By Richard Duckett
Worcester Telegram & Gazette Staff
April 19, 2019
WORCESTER — “Christmas a la mode” is one of the entries in an ice cream flavor contest to raise money to save the family farm in the indie movie “A Sweet Romance,” which is scheduled to begin filming next week.
Shooting movie scenes in Worcester and the surrounding area is also becoming “a la mode” as recent visitors have included the pending “Honest Thief” starring Liam Neeson.
But “A Sweet Romance” won’t be just a flavor of the month. Its writer and director, John Stimpson of Princeton, said, “We do a lot of movies here.” Stimpson has made more than 15 movies, almost all of them set in Massachusetts/New England, and has an office in the Printers Building, 44 Portland St.
Worcester will double for New York City when filming for “A Sweet Romance” is scheduled to begin April 24 with shooting taking place at Bay State Savings Bank, 28 Franklin St., and People’s United Bank, 120 Front St. Other area locations in the coming weeks will include Robbie’s Place Ice Cream and More at Crystal Caves in Auburn, Whittier Farms in Sutton and a farmhouse in Boxboro.
The cast will include Kate Leclerc, who was one of the stars of the TV show “Switched at Birth” (ABC Family/Freeform), and Ryan Cooper (MTV’s “Eye Candy”). Leclerc can be heard on the Brett Davern Show featuring Katie Leclerc streaming live on idobi Radio (idobi.com) at 10 a.m. Mondays-Fridays.
“A Sweet Romance” is described as a family-friendly, romantic comedy set on a dairy farm at Christmastime.
Stimpson said the plot centers around Emily (played by Leclerc), a young dairy farmer who made a promise to her dying father that she would keep their farm afloat and in the family. But the bills are piling up, and Emily’s sister Dorothy, who lives in New York City, appears one day and wants to sell the farm. Charlie (played by Cooper), a NYC investment banker, will handle the deal. Charlie, however, has a fondness for family businesses and for ice cream. He helps Emily devise a crowdfunding plan and the ice cream flavor contest to raise the money to save the farm. Charlie also develops a fondness for Emily.
“Romance blossoms,” Stimpson said.
“I’ve done a couple of Christmas movies. They’re fun. People love them.”
He also noted that people in New England love ice cream, consuming more of it than anywhere else in the country. “People still eat ice cream even though it’s cold outside.”
A former president of Harvard’s Hasty Pudding Theatricals, Stimpson has been directing film, television and commercial projects in Massachusetts for 25 years. In 1999, he had his directorial debut with “The Gentleman from Boston,” released internationally as “Beacon Hill,” starring Michael Landes, Wendy Benson, Grainger Hines and Drea De Matteo of “Sopranos” fame. Inspired by a local ghost story, he wrote and directed “The Legend of Lucy Keyes” (2004), starring Julie Delpy, Justin Theroux and Brooke Adams. Other films include “A Christmas Kiss,” “Sexting in Suburbia,” “A Deadly Obsession,” “Last Hours in Suburbia,” “The March Sisters at Christmas,” “Betrayed” and “Sins of the Preacher.” His films have been shown on platforms such as cable/satellite TV (Lifetime Channel and Lifetime Movie Network, as well as ION), direct online screening, DVD and through international deals.
For “A Sweet Romance” Leclerc and Cooper were cast out of Los Angeles. The local supporting cast includes Jennifer Ellis (Dorothy, Emily’s sister), Kathy Harum (Susan, Emily’s mom), Caroline Keeler (Gloria, the loyal farmhand), Nick Verina (Trey, Dorothy’s high school crush), Tom Kemp (Mr. Blanchard, Charlie’s father), Celeste Oliva (town woman Mrs. Carlson), Erin Cole (reporter) and Charlie Van Eman (real estate developer Edgar Samuels).
The film has previously put out a call for extras (unpaid). People interested and available should respond to AlamodeFilmExtras@gmail.com and include in the subject line: “Extra.”
Stimpson said he’s been talking with the Strand Theatre in Clinton about a local premiere run for “A Sweet Romance” with a goal of the film being seen over the holidays.
“We’ll see where we go,” he said. “It’s an indie film. I don’t know where we’re gonna go yet, but we’re hoping to be one of the lovely holiday pictures people eat up.”