If you recently watched a made-for-TV Christmas movie and thought some of the scenes looked familiar, you may be right.
Christmas Wedding Planner, which was made by Newmarket-based Brain Power Studio and is available on Netflix, was partially filmed in Bradford West Gwillimbury.
It is one of many of holiday films the media production company has made that were filmed in Ontario, mostly in the region between Newmarket and Barrie.
“These feel-good romance stories — a lot of them take place in that small-town, picturesque world,” said Beth Stevenson, executive producer and founder of Brain Power Studio.
Much of Christmas Wedding Planner was filmed in or near Bradford “just because of how pretty is was,” she said. “(Local viewers) probably would recognize a lot of stuff.”
The film follows wedding planner Kelsey Wilson (Jocelyn Hudon), who is planning her first event. Conflict builds as the bride’s ex-boyfriend (Stephen Huszar), now a private investigator, shows up and wants her help to investigate the groom.
Joey Fatone makes several appearances in the movie as a restaurant owner, the filming for which was done at The Goulash House in Newmarket, said Stevenson.
One transitional shot between scenes shows downtown Bradford on Holland Street, with the Village Inn (signs removed) and the Simcoe Road sign clearly visible. These types of transitional shots are reused in other movies, Stevenson said.
The main street where Hudon and Huszar’s characters often interact in the movie was also filmed in Newmarket, she said, and some of the skating scenes were done in Riverwalk Commons.
“It was all done locally,” she said.
Christmas Wedding Planner was filmed in 2017 and acquired by Netflix, which just recently added the film to its holiday content.
The film had a “very big” release last year, with copies for sale in about 4,000 Walmarts in the U.S., and it played on networks worldwide and on M6, also known as Métropole Television, in France, Stevenson said.
Brain Power Studio produces four to five Christmas movies a year and films throughout the year depending on the location they are trying to emulate, she said.
“We don’t do a lot of fake snow and blankets,” she said. “We’re trying to dress November Ontario for May in Alaska.”
Stevenson said there are several other Christmas movies filmed in the area, including Love, Alaska (Barrie, Thornton and Creemore), Christmas With a View (Barrie and Horseshoe Resort), and A Very Country Christmas (Alliston). A sequel to the latter — A Very Country Wedding — also wrapped up this fall.
As well, the Ponysitters Club TV series is filmed at farms in the Mount Albert and Newmarket area.
Brain Power Studio bases all its films on Harlequin novels, of which 100 new titles are produced every month, Stevenson said.
Many of the studio’s employees are also from Ontario, including a writer from Barrie and editors from Orangeville, which adds to the enthusiasm for finding the perfect locations, she said.
“There’s an excitement around movie making than if we were downtown and everyone was jaded,” she said. “We’re (an) original romance industry right here in Ontario.”