Nova Scotia

Mahone Bay café owner says film shoot unexpectedly cost her 2 days’ business

A café owner in Mahone Bay, N.S., says many business owners were caught off guard in recent weeks when the town’s main thoroughfare was shut down for two days to accommodate a film shoot by a local production company. 

Danielle King, the owner of Eli & Trix on Main Street, told CBC Radio’s Information Morning Nova Scotia that while the crew were kind and professional, poor communication left businesses in a tough spot. 

On April 30 and May 1, the town’s main thoroughfare was closed to outside traffic as the cast and crew of Christmasland filmed scenes in the area.

Many businesses lost revenue, while others were forced to close down for the duration of the shoot, said King.

“The town really handled this poorly,” she said. “I really think that there should have been some kind of public engagement, and we should have known right then and there that there were going to be disruptions of that scale, and unfortunately that’s not how it played out.”

Although the town did announce the disruptions on Facebook in the week leading up to the shoot, King said she believes the information could have been better communicated.

King said while she was told initially there would be some traffic disruptions, she didn’t know the main drag would be closed to outside traffic until just days before filming began.

As a popular locale for film and television shoots, Mahone Bay should include business owners in discussions ahead of productions, said King.

In an email, Mahone Bay Mayor David Devenne said his staff are in talks with stakeholders about the issue at hand to determine if a “more concise policy on using the town and its assets for future productions is required.” 

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He said citizens, business owners, and the Mahone Bay Tourism & Chamber of Commerce will be given the opportunity to provide input during this process.

Production company apologizes

David Keefe, a producer with Christmasland Productions, told Information Morning Nova Scotia that his company never intended for its shoot to impact small businesses.

A still from Christmas Island, a Hallmark Channel film shot in nearby Lunenburg last year. (Courtesy of Corus Entertainment)

He said he’s since reached out to King and apologized.

As a way of making amends for the disruption, Keefe said his company donated to several local charities.

“Immediately after our conversation, we made donations to the Father Christmas Festival, the Mahone Bay food bank and the Mahone Bay district fire department,” he said.

Keefe said the company has also started a working group with Mahone Bay, Screen Nova Scotia, and the town’s chamber of commerce “to make sure the next production goes a little smoother.” 

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