Solvang stars in ‘A Very Charming Christmas Town’
There’s nothing fake about the setting for the movie, “A Very Charming Christmas Town,” a holiday movie showing on the Lifetime channel through Jan. 3.
It actually was filmed in Solvang last December during the annual Julefest celebration.
“The scenes of the Christmas tree lighting and the parade were done during the actual events, and businesses like The Mole Hole gift shop, Ingeborg’s Danish Chocolates and Mortensen’s Danish Bakery have starring roles in the movie,” said Daniel Lahr, film liaison for the Solvang Conference and Visitors Bureau.
He was contacted in the summer of 2019 by Autumn Federici, producer, and Jake Helgren, writer/director, of the movie which stars Natalie Hall and Jon Prescott.
Natalie plays the role of city girl Aubrey Lang, a lifestyle blogger, who is assigned to write a travel story about the most Christmassy town in the United States.
When she arrives in Solvang, she thinks it is nothing but a tourist trap and plans to write a critical review about the town which has gained a nationwide reputation for being what it is.
But Jon Prescott as Sawyer Larsen, a handsome shop owner, shows her the town, she starts to feel the magic of Solvang’s Christmas spirit.
“When Autumn and Jake came to Solvang, I gave them a tour of the city, and since I was also special events coordinator for Julefest for three years, I also told them about the various holiday festivities. They became very excited about making a Christmas movie in Solvang,” said Mr. Lahr, who ended up playing a small role in the movie as the husband of Ms. Federici, the producer who is also an actress.
“They don’t call it a cameo role. I was a featured extra,” he said with a chuckle.
As executive director of the Central Coast Film Society, Mr. Lahr was helpful in rounding up several hundred extras to fill the background of the busy streets of Solvang.
“I used my social media contacts to find them. Some are from Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. They were very excited, and many of them have their name in the film credits, which is very unusual,” said Mr. Lahr, who grew up in Solvang, graduated from Santa Ynez Valley Union High School in 2001 and earned his bachelor of fine arts degree at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco.
After working on projects in the Los Angeles area, he returned to the Central Coast in 2017 with his wife, Amberly Lahr, and their two young children, Amelia, 5, and Jeremiah, 3, who now live in Arroyo Grande.
“As a 10th generation Californian, I can’t say enough nice things about the production company. They captured my love and passion for Solvang in the movie. They kept what is the true essence of the community,” said Mr. Lahr.
He is also hoping that the movie will attract visitors to the town which depends heavily on tourism and was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“According to The Hollywood Reporter, Lifetime Christmas movies will get at least one million views for each film,” said Mr. Lahr.