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Creating California in the North Okanagan

Producers were blown away by the resort's unique architecture and had to film there—even if it meant contending with the snow. Pictured is the flashy BMW convertible the two leading ladies arrive to the resort in.
January 28, 2014 - 12:12 PM

VERNON - Aside from the snow, production crews aren’t having too much trouble transforming a rural North Okanagan resort into a northern California oasis.

Sparkling Hills Resort—normally reserved for peace and quietude—was a flurry of activity Monday as a 60-person crew began day one of filming Mother's Day Off,  Hallmark Channel’s Movie of the Week to air this May.

Executive producer Ira Pincus says it’s a treat to have so many of their locations—hotel, restaurant, spa—wrapped up in one package. It means crews can spend their standard 12 hour day in one place instead of several. 

“We searched a ton of hotels and this by far blew everyone away,” Pincus says of the resort.

The crew is doing their best not to invade the tranquility of the resort, even setting up a pretend restaurant so as not to disturb operations. 

The film is expected to take three weeks to shoot, and day one began with an array of spa treatments for the movie’s leading ladies—former college roommates on a getaway from their regular routines.

“I wish I was an actor today,” Pincus says.

Instead, the Los Angeles producer is out brushing snow off the Sparkling Hills Resort sign with mittened hands alongside a film crew turned snow removal team.

But other than that, the weather has been on their side. Too sunny and the film gets hotspots on it, Vancouver producer Darcy Wild says.

“If it’s like this with cloud cover it’s all muted and the sun is diffused. It’s a really nice light to work with,” Wild says.

The movie will include sweeping shots of the view from Sparkling Hills’ vantage point over the valley and Okanagan Lake, but Wild isn’t worried about the dusting of snow. Because the background is in the distance, he says the viewer won’t be able to tell if it’s snow or sand, if they can see it at all. The majority of the scenes will be filmed inside the resort at the spa, restaurant and penthouse suite. 

The quick production turnaround means jam-packed days for the crew. Larger budget films (this one is around $2 to $3 million) typically translate one page of script—which equates to around a minute onscreen—per a day. Behind the scenes of Mothers Day Off, crews will cover more like seven pages a day.

It takes about an hour to film the mothers arriving at the resort in their rented BMW convertible. With their hair flying in the cool winter air and big sunglasses shielding their eyes, the women look out of place driving up the icy Sparkling Hills driveway.

Then it’s into the hotel lobby where dozens of extras are milling about, posing as hotel guests. Janet Anderson of Lake Country, and Tracy Seeger of Penticton stand at the ready on the staircase.

“Apparently we get to make our way across the foyer to the counter,” Seeger says.

Both women have done a mix of theatre and onscreen acting, and both jumped at the opportunity to act in Mothers Day Off.

They’re right out of a spring catalogue, floating down the staircase in skirts more appropriate for California than winter in the Okanagan.

“They suggest what you should wear and we bring about three outfits. They have back-ups as well,” Seeger says.

They’re enjoying pretending to be guests at the hotel, and just might check in for Mothers Day themselves.

“I’ll drop that hint to my husband,” Anderson says.

To contact the reporter for this story email Charlotte Helston at, call (250)309-5230 or tweet @charhelston.

Crews prepare to film the arrival of the movie's leading ladies at the resort.
Crews prepare to film the arrival of the movie's leading ladies at the resort.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
InfoTel News Ltd

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