[Warning: General spoilers ahead/]
Although it’s 90 degrees as I write this, the calendar and the TV are turning toward fall, and Hallmark Channel is launching its Fall Harvest lineup this Saturday with the premiere of Follow Me to Daisy Hills, starring Cindy Busby and Marshall Williams (Amazing Winter Romance) as long-ago sweethearts thrown together to save a small-town treasure.
Busby is Jo, who stayed in her hometown and took over the family’s general store, and the matriarchal role for caring her dad, Duke (Paul Essiembre) and younger sister, Sofi (Jade Michael) after the death of her Mom. A few years down the road from that life-changing event, she’s settled into an easy rhythm and a happy life, but the store itself is struggling, so Duke reaches out to Blake, Jo’s former sweetie, who’s now a New York financial consultant, for guidance on how to turn things around.
He neglects to tell Jo, and when Blake shows up unannounced, things go a bit sideways. I chatted with Busby this week about the film, her third this year on Hallmark, after Love in the Forecast and Love in the Air.
Busby shot the film last fall in Winnipeg, in her first trip to the city, and she loved the experience, and discovering the Francophile population. “I always get very excited whenever I get to shoot someone I’ve never been before. I try to take as much time as possible to enjoy my time,” she shares.
“It’s like one of those hidden gems where there’s so much art going on within the city, there’s so much music and so many artists. A lot of sports players, specifically hockey players, and actors come from Winnipeg. There’s a great theater there. A lot of really beautiful native art.”
“It’s a really special place. It has one of the biggest French communities in all of Canada, which I had no idea [about as a] French Canadian myself. So that was really cool. We had a lot of French-speaking crew members [and] English was their second language. It was a great place. The people were so lovely…just really nice and good people, but man, is it ever cold. Holy moly.”
The store featured in the film was actually a real standalone building and not a set. “They found that location about 45 minutes outside of Winnipeg in a little small town. I think it was a store, but this man who lived there inherited the building and he wasn’t really using it,” she explains.
“[It was] literally perfect for our movie and it was so cute. It had so much character and we all hung out in between scenes and in the upstairs portion of the house. It was nice [to] shoot in one location for a big portion of the movie, because you all get to huddle together, hanging out in between scenes rather than just spending a lot of time in your trailer by yourself.”
“Those moments are always really special because it makes the bonding part even easier and better. And then that chemistry just really shows up on camera, which makes a big difference, rather than just going into your isolated space.”
In addition to Hallmark regular Williams, the cast includes familiar Hallmarkies Essembrie and Adrian McLean and new-to-the-network faces and first-time Hallmark director, Séan Geraughty, and writer, Guy Cohen. Busby enjoyed that new energy onset. “I feel like I’m learning more from them than they’re learning from me, in a way, because there’s just something really beautiful about getting to work with people that are sometimes really new [to Hallmark],” she says.
“Paul, who played our father, Duke, and Sharon [Bajer], who played Carol…are really big stage actors, and even Erik [Athavale]. There’s something really special about working with stage actors. That’s how I started acting, as well. They’re grounded in [their] characters and they just show up and they’ve got that groundedness, but still bring a quirkiness to it. And there’s just a different vibe going on that I don’t normally get to work with or that has happened in a long time.”
“They just really cared a lot about these people and where they came from and why they were there and what they wanted. And it was just nice to work with different styles of acting. I’m all about learning from each other, being together, working off of each other, taking the time, even in the off moments, to work out the take. And that was really nice to work with.”
In the film, Jo rediscovers her purpose beyond the life she fell into, and that and the ensemble aspect of the film turn out to be a bit prescient about where we find ourselves now, navigating responsibility, purpose, and self-care. “Jo takes on the store, takes on a lot of responsibility from the time that her mother passes away. She takes that role and takes care of her father and her sister and the store,” Busby points out.
“And [she] forgets about herself and just jumps in head first. And as she starts to work with Blake and lets him help her. and lets herself not be so independent anymore, and allows herself to learn things and grow and not be so stubborn, the store starts to flourish, as does she. There’s a really nice metaphor in that for the community, for the store, and for her life, as well. They’re all interlinked.”
“I always love the romance storylines and having those one-on-one scenes with your love interest in these movies, but there’s something really special about having a movie where there are so many varying characters within the story that bring such a beautiful flavor. And that it’s not just about me in the movie, but it’s about all these people coming together, [which is] a really nice metaphor for what we’re going through right now…coming together in these hard times.”
“It’s having those support systems and having a community, especially in hard times, because life can be a little bit isolating sometimes. And that’s what I think a lot of people will walk away with from this movie.”
Images and Video Courtesy of Crown Media.
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