Train Depot is Site of Final Filming Day - TribPapers

Train Depot is Site of Final Filming Day

Sailors at right eye a lady walking by, as extras get into character for scenes filmed in front of the train depot. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

Hendersonville – Hollywood came to Hendersonville all day on Friday, Jan. 27 as the month-long filming of A Biltmore Christmas concluded with scenes shot at the Historic Train Depot near Historic Seventh Avenue.

The family film A Biltmore Christmas co-stars Bethany “Joy” Lenz (Good Sam) and Kristoffer Polaha (Wonder Woman 1984). Both have acted in prior Hallmark holiday films. They mingled with onlookers between some scenes while on set. About 30 extras were there for most of the day.

“You’re all going to love this movie!,” Lenz stated on her Facebook page, after the last day of shooting.

Lenz portrays Lucy Collins, a screenwriter. Lucy scripts the remake of His Merry Bride!, which was originally filmed at Biltmore Estate in 1946-47. When touring the estate, Lucy accidentally knocks over a magical hourglass. That takes her back to 1946, the year after World War II ended. Lucy is suddenly immersed into the original filming of His Merry Bride!

This sets off a chain of life-changing events and threatens the original film production. Lead actor Jack Huston (Polaha) falls for Lucy. Does she continue to rebuff him, to keep matters as they were? Or will she pursue their romance?

Marcy Holland wrote the script for A Biltmore Christmas. John Putch directed.

Extras, Depot

Dozens of movie extras wore circa-1946 clothes. There were a handful of sailors, two porters who handled train luggage, and various train passengers.

An interesting special effect is due to get created in post-production, according to a source close to the film. The train tracks that are behind and eastward of the depot will instead appear to extend in front of the depot and its main entrance. That is where the extras were filmed, on the edge of Maple Street. Thus, they can appear to enter or exit the train from there.

The back door of the depot opens to tracks that actually still exist. On the other side of those tracks is a smaller depot-related structure. The main depot houses the Apple Valley Model Railroad Club’s impressive, elaborate model train layouts. Depot entrances lead to a railroad historical display and a small meeting space.

The movie stayed on schedule. A Biltmore Christmas is due to be on television’s Hallmark Channel in the holiday season, ideally in November. Filming was over 19 days, from Jan. 9-27.

Filming did not inconvenience motorists or Seventh Avenue businesses. Hendersonville Police Capt. Tracey Cox was among officers who handled security. Cox said that he had to temporarily close Seventh Avenue vehicular traffic merely three times all day on Friday. He did that to allow safe crossing of the film’s extras. The film crew set up its base at St. James Episcopal Church.

Maple Street from Fifth to Seventh avenues was closed all day on Friday. The street runs in front of the depot and also Hendersonville Rescue Mission, which is across the road. The mission’s longtime CEO, The Rev. Anthony McMinn, and his wife Kimbela walked over to the set to watch some of the filming and returned smiling.

The weather cooperated. There was no rain in Hendersonville on Friday. It was chilly. Temperatures were in the twenties in early morning when the shoot began, but reached the mid-forties in the afternoon. The sun was often out. That overlit the depot scene. So the film crew put up giant blue screens to shield direct sunlight and provide more even lighting.

The production company reached out to local people to work as movie extras, and in the crew if they had prior experience. About one-third of the crew came from the Asheville area, with many more from film hubs Charlotte and Wilmington, the set manager said.

Onlookers were east and north of the depot, and out of camera view. Local resident Elizabeth Johnson took her sister Glory Everson and their father John Everson on a walking tour of town, as part of their visit from northwestern Ohio. They saw the small crowd on the edge of Seventh Avenue, checked out what was going on, and stayed to watch filming of the depot scenes.

Biltmore Estate

The depot shots followed nearly a full month of filming A Biltmore Christmas at Biltmore Estate, the film’s primary site. Tours of the Biltmore House were still held, but with some rooms off limits since they were used for the film’s interior shots. Some visitors noted rearrangement of some of those rooms’ furniture.

The film’s producer, Andrew Gernhard, calls the 8,000-acre Biltmore Estate a “gorgeous place” to film a movie. In an interview on WLOS-TV, Gernhard praised the 255-room Biltmore House’s architecture and its lovely gardens and mountainous backdrop. “The land is beautiful,” he said. “You can almost aim your camera in any direction, and get a beautiful shot.”

Even when it snowed that was a blessing for shooting “exteriors,” Gernhard told WLOS. “The weather got freezing cold and snowy, which works perfectly for a Christmas movie.”