Chemainus is now known as Windward, Washington during filming of The Baker’s Son.
The Hallmark movie is being filmed by Minute-Road Production Limited until the end of the week in a portion of the downtown core on Willow Street between Victoria and Mill Street.
Changes to the Chemainus landscape have sprung up, with McBride’s taking over as the name of the Willow Street Cafe which is the primary shooting location. Ironically, as local residents know, McBride’s is the name of the community’s iconic service station but its alter ego has the reputation for being “the best coffee in town” according to a sign outside the establishment.
Banners reading “Welcome To Windward, Washington,” a place apparently established in 1830, line the street. There’s also a Windward Realty office next to McBride’s.
The other obvious change to that part of town is the presence of American flags at the entrance to the Western Forest Products Chemainus sawmill for the backdrop to the movie.
Underneath all the window dressing, it’s still Chemainus and folks can look forward to seeing the familiar town sites in the finished product.
“We selected it because it’s so great,” said Steve Kinghorn, the location manager. “It’s a very pretty small town.
“We were scouting around for the last month.”
There is a real Windward High School in Bellingham, Washington but the fictional Windward is pegged as a coastal town in Washington state for the movie.
After shooting wraps up in Chemainus at the end of the week, the scene shifts for two days to Cowichan Bay – Monday at True Grain Bread and Tuesday at the dock – before wrapping up in Victoria for eight days. Filming ends on April 1.
“This will probably be on the air by late spring – I would say by June,” said Kinghorn.
“For people trying to look out for it, a lot of our movies show up on the W Channel.”
The exact story line is being kept under wraps, other than Kinghorn saying “it’s a romantic comedy. This is a little bit more of a comedy than the love story.”
People who’ve never seen a movie being filmed before will quickly discover it’s a painstaking process. Each scene requires several rehearsals and then numerous takes.
Such things as an ambulance siren in the background, a helicopter flying overhead and even the sun coming up and going back behind the clouds required delays in the process Monday to get all the scenes just right.
Otherwise, it was an ideal day to begin shooting except for a chilly start until the sun broke through for most of the day.
The film brought a large influx of personnel into the community with cast and crew.
“Probably 50 here plus the background extras and the cast,” noted Kinghorn.
“Everyone’s been very welcoming,” he added.
Kinghorn said four productions, including the Baker’s Son, are expected to be completed for Hallmark by the middle of May amid a busy shooting schedule.
Like every other industry, it’s been a different time for movie productions.
“We’ve got very strict COVID protocols in place,” Kinghorn indicated. “The industry opened up after about a three-month hiatus. We opened up about the first of July.”
The benefits of the attention the film will bring to town are considered significant once full-fledged tourism returns.
“This is the best thing that could happen to Chemainus and put them on the map internationally,” said Don Goodman, co-owner of the Willow Street Cafe, who also lives upstairs and has a bird’s eye view of the filming.
Willow Street Cafe closed for the week, with the movie’s cast and crew taking over the building.
“They’re decorating to their taste,” noted Goodman. “They’ve even got curtains on the windows.”
“This is a natural location,” he added of Chemainus as a whole. “Every year there should be something.
“I think we could use a college of the arts to support the theatre and the jobs.”
The Baker’s Son is being directed by Mark Jean.