GRAFTON, Mass. – The "Orchard House" camera crew arrived at Grafton Common Friday, using movie magic to turn a humid August day into winter and fall.
The film, a modern day adaptation of "Little Women," has been shooting in Grafton over the past two weeks, keeping most of the action inside a historic home in the center of town. With most of the film completed, the crew from Moody Independent moved to the more complicated outdoor scenes at One Grafton Common and the Grafton Country Store.
"They told me they had planned to go to Concord, but they decided to stay right here in town," said Tina Sontag, owner of the Grafton Country Store. "Several of our regular customers are actually extras in the scene here. It's really exciting."
The store's cafe was decorated for fall, and later for Christmas, by the movie crew for scenes featuring Julie Berman, best known for "General Hospital," who plays Jo March. Sitting at tables nearby were Grafton residents Barbara and Erika Smith and Jen and Devon White.
"We read they needed extras in The Daily Voice and my daughter sent them an email," Barbara Smith said. "It's not every day you have a movie come to your town, that's for sure."
The last time a major production was filmed in Grafton was in the 1930s, when the Grafton Common bandstand was constructed for "Ah, Wilderness."
Like the Smiths, the Whites spotted the casting call on The Daily Voice.
"Devon's interested in acting," Jen White said. "When they responded, they asked her if her mother might want to be in it, too. So here we are."
With the Country Store on a corner, the call of "quiet on the set!" extended to almost all of the Grafton Common area. Grafton Police stopped traffic during the scenes to prevent noise from interfering.
Moody Independent shot exterior scenes outside of One Grafton Common in the evening, despite rain threatening the show from going on. The former Grafton Town House was bedecked with Christmas lights, trees and Santa Clauses in preparation for the scenes. Peggy's Place switched its front window from summer dresses to winter attire to suit the season.
Co-producer Andrea Ajemian said the film will be wrapping up its Grafton scenes and leaving the town Sunday to begin shooting in Worcester.
"Keeping cool has been a little tricky," she said. "That's what happens when you decide to shoot a Christmas movie in the summer."
The film's actors include, in addition to Berman, Kaitlin Doubleday ("Waiting," "Accepted"), Melissa Farman ("Lost," "Temple Grandin"), Molly Kunz ("Battleground"), Charlie Hofheimer ("Mad Men," "Black Hawk Down"), Justin Brueining ("All My Children," "Ringer"), Mark Famiglietti ("Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines") and John Shea ("Gossip Girl," "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman").
A release date has not been set since, as an independent production, it will need to be picked up by a distributor.