will be featured in a movie later this year after Michigan-based crews completed filming several scenes inside and out this month.
The film, Christmas Grace, is the story of two competing toy stores—one a small, independent store and the other a large, corporate store—and how the owners eventually become friends and help each other in business.
Written, produced and directed by Keith Perna, president of Bright Horizon Pictures, the story has a Christian theme and includes scripture verses. Executive producer Daniel Knudsen, of Crystal Creek Media, said they crew enjoyed working in Grosse Pointe and described the community as cinematic.
Village Toy owner Ellen Durand said she was approached last summer by Perna about using her store for the movie. She took his business card and immediately checked out his company online, she said, only to call him back and agree to allow the filming.
The crew did a bit of filming last year and then spent a couple of weeks here this month, shooting specific scenes. Perna's family provided dinner to the cast and crew, which sometimes included upward of 25 people in the store at one time, Durand said.
Different actors and actresses came according to scene appearances and the filming schedule but the entire experience was pleasant, Durand said, saying they were extremely nice to work with.
The film crews generally began setting up shortly before Village Toy closes and most filming happened after closing. The store is being portrayed exactly as the small indepently owned store, which it is, and the set up worked well for the crew.
Durand recently expanded a portion of the store she's named El's Boutique that features items for pre-teen and teenagers—this is the location where the actors and crew members hung out to be out of the way of the filming happening on the toy side of the store.
A trailer Knudsen recently released announcing the film shows several shots from Village Toy and along Kercheavl Avenue showing the rest of the Village.
The crew used locations throughout southeast Michigan for filming. The interior of another local toy store in Berkley was used and is being portrayed as the big, corporate toy store. The outside of in the Village will be used as the outside of the big toy store, however.
Durand said the filming was fun and she had a few inquires about what was going on while the crew was there but mostly it went unnoticed because of the hours they were present.
"It's something fun," she said. "It's something positive in a time when there is a lot of bad news."
The crew is likely to return for a few more shots this summer and the movie is expected to be released later this year. Updates about the film are being shared on a Facebook page established for it called Christmas Grace.