Film Crew Holds Up Pine Traffic

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A film crew making a commercial for Honda of Canada backed up traffic Sunday in and around Pine. Directors Film Company of Toronto drove south to the small mountain hamlet to film commercials for two of the company's car models -- the Civic and the Accord.


The company picked the Rim country because its Pine covered mountains look like the Canadian landscape and the weather promised to stay sunny, senior art director George Gilewski said. A 60-person film crew descended on the Rim country last week to shoot three 30-second commercials, Department of Public Safety Sergeant John Whetten said.


DPS aided the film crew by closing highways 260 and 87 for 15-minute periods for filming and performing crowd control to keep cars moving as drivers rubbernecked to see what was going on. The cameras, lights and actors drew plenty of attention.


These are public-use highways, Whetten said, and with the right permits, companies can shut them down.


Film crewmembers estimate that $20,000, less than 10 percent of the company's filming budget, was spent in Payson and Pine to produce the commercials.


Two store fronts in Pine also were used in the commercials. The small building that houses Sharon's Hairlines and Berge's Interiors at the south end of town was transformed into a quaint French ice cream shop with just a sign change.


The old Fuller gas station also was used as a backdrop for the commercial.


The company added a few antiques to the front to make the building look like a quaint village antique store.


During filming, a happy couple emerged from the "store," first to put mannequins in the trunk of a shiny gold Accord and later to stow a copper-green weather vane in the trunk.


The company hired four primary actors, two for English versions of the commercials and two for French versions. The foursome huddled together in a van for warmth between shots.


"We thought we were going to the desert, to warmth," Stane Archambault said. Archambault and his partner Marie-Christine Labelle, who are both from Quebec, were amazed to find pine trees in Arizona. The pair appear on the sit-com "Four-and-a-half" in Canada.


Kathleen Kelly and Tim McCraken, who played the parts of the English-speaking couple, both hail from New York. Passersby thought Kelly looked like Jessica Lange or Sybil Shepard.


Although Pine residents got the chance to watch the commercials being filmed, they probably won't get the chance to see the finished products. The commercials will air only in Canada.

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