A couple of weeks ago I applied to be an ‘extra’ in the movie “Love Finds You in Sugarcreek Ohio”, a romantic mystery/suspense drama set in Sugarcreek Ohio, also known as “The Little Switzerland of Ohio”. The movie, based on the book of the same name, was written by Serena B. Miller of Portsmouth, Ohio. The movie was filmed entirely in the Sugarcreek Ohio Amish country area. I’d never been an ‘extra’ before so I thought it would be quite interesting to be on location during filming. As it turns out, I had a great time and found the film-making process quite interesting. The movie is directed by Terrence Cunningham with prominent roles played by Kelly McGillis (Top Gun, Witness), Sarah Lancaster (Chuck, Everwood, Scrubs), and Tom Everett Scott (That Thing You Do, Southland), and a five year old boy, Thomas Kapanowski.
I applied as an extra on Saturday, September 14th, and was on site with four other extras the following Monday morning, the first day of filming. We got checked in at the staging office, went to wardrobe, sat around for a couple of hours, and then proceeded over to the cuckoo clock in downtown Sugarcreek. One of the crew asked which one of us wanted to take photos, so I immediately volunteered. I was assigned to be a tourist taking pictures of the world’s largest cuckoo clock, which sits on the square in Sugarcreek. Three weeks earlier I had been at the very same spot photographing the famous clock for an article I am working on.
The movie’s baseball game was filmed on Friday of the same week, at the Garaway High School baseball field. There were quite a few extras for those scenes; I arrived a bit late, but it was no problem. I looked around for any familiar faces and spotted Elsie Hershberger who works at the Swiss Village Bulk Food Store in Sugarcreek. She informed me that some scenes for the movie were also shot inside the bulk food store. I also saw Paul Stutzman, a local author and traveller. He has written three great books, which I have read, and is working on another. I chatted with both Elsie and Paul while we were waiting for directions from the crew. In my conversation with Paul I discovered that he is currently working on another book that he is co-authoring, with none other than Serena B. Miller, who was also on site. I had Paul introduce me to her and so we chatted for some time about her book “Love Finds You in Sugarcreek Ohio” as well as the book she is working on with Paul. Serena has a cameo role in the movie as a clerk at a bulk food store.
In short order, we were positioned in the stands, as fans watching the baseball game. The game was between the Sugarcreek Fire Department (the older guys) and the Garaway High School baseball team (the teenagers). It was fascinating to watch the filming process with all the scenes and takes. One thing that impressed me, was the fast pace of the process. It takes a lot of people to make it all happen; I immediately saw that the cast and crew knew how to execute well. They go very quickly from one scene to the next. The director, Terrence Cunningham, was very casual, but focused on getting the scenes done the way he wanted them.
During the baseball game scenes I got to see the director, the crew, and three of the show’s stars in action, Tom Everett Scott (Joe), Sarah Lancaster (Rachel), and little five year old Thomas Kapanowski (Bobby). In the story, there is a budding romance taking place between Joe and Rachel. Bobby is Joe’s son. In the baseball game Joe is one of the players on the Sugarcreek Fire Department team. Rachel and Bobby are in the stands (with all the other fans) watching the game and cheering for Joe and the fire department. The fans for both teams were quite exuberant and having a great time of it.
During a break time for the extras, I saw a friend of mine, Steven Miller, standing by watching the action. I went over and chatted with him for a while. He told me he was hired by the production company to tutor little Thomas Kapanowski for the three weeks that the movie is being filmed. I guess not even young actors are exempt from going to school.
On Thursday of the following week, we were taken to the site of the Ohio Swiss Festival in Sugarcreek, where the ‘Steintossen’ was filmed. Steintossen is a German word meaning ‘stone tossing’. It is a Swiss sport and attraction at popular festivals in Switzerland. As far as is known, it can only be seen in this country at the Swiss Festival, which is held annually in Sugarcreek, Ohio, the last weekend of September. Contestants hurl a huge stone weighing 138 pounds. There are cash prizes awarded to those contestants who throw the stone the longest distance.
At breaktime, I again chatted with Steven Miller. I also got to talk with John Erb, a member of the Sugarcreek volunteer fire department. In the crowd scene I sat beside Terri Petrella from Kent, Ohio. During our afternoon break I met one of the extras, Steve Korba, a photographer who took photos and wrote some articles for several Reader’s Digest publications, including Country Magazine. I met Vernon and Effie Miller who own the home near Farmerstown, Ohio that is being used as the inn of Rachel’s three Amish aunts in the story.
This was a great experience. I enjoyed watching all the goings on, and meeting new people. The comments that I have heard in the community, and by the extras, about the crew and cast, have all been very positive. It was great to see that there will be a lot of area folks in the movie including the fire department guys, the Garaway High School baseball team, and a lot of extras. This is one movie having to do with the Amish that has been well received here in Ohio’s Amish country, home of the world’s largest Amish community. I can’t wait to see the movie. It’s slated for release next summer.
For info and reviews on the book see: LOVE FINDS YOU IN SUGARCREEK OHIO.
Mission Pictures International, the producer of the film, is a foreign sales, finance, and distribution company that specializes in high quality family and faith-based entertainment for mainstream audiences worldwide. UP TV is also a values-based company. Their mission is to inspire, uplift and entertain. The movie is projected to have millions watching the first viewing on UP TV, and it will continue to draw viewers through that network until it is distributed to others (Fox, Amazon, etc). Stories about the movie will also be featured in a publication and website called Guideposts, which is dedicated to providing hope, encouragement, and inspiration to millions across America and the world.