Look out, Hollywood - two new Vancouver Island stars are born.
A pair of 14-month-old Qualicum Beach twins will share the spotlight alongside Chesapeake Shores actor Robert Buckley in a Hallmark Christmas movie this holiday season.
The Christmas House 2: Deck Those Halls, filmed in Victoria, follows the story of Mike Mitchell (Buckley) and Brandon Mitchell (Johnathan Bennett) as they compete to see who can decorate the best Christmas house.
Mother to the twins, Erica Horsfield Woodruff, said her daughters (Baylee and Charlee) share the role as Bennett’s newly adopted infant daughter.
“Babies only get 15 minutes maximum on set at a time – with a total work day of four hours, allowing for nap times, feeding times and all that,” said Woodruff. “That’s why they use twins predominantly, so that one twin can come for the first four hours and then the other twin comes in for the second four hours.”
She said the production company, Front Street Pictures Inc., was very good at allowing her daughters the time and space they needed while on set.
Although Baylee and Charlee are twins, they are not identical.
“They look nothing alike, believe it or not. But apparently, in movies that’s OK,” their mother said with a chuckle. “One of them has a bit more hair, but they’re in toques most of the time because it’s Christmas. And I thought they might not want my kids because one of them has more hair than the other, but no.”
Woodruff learned that on some film sets, multiple and sometimes unrelated babies are hired to play the same character.
The Christmas House 2 shoot took approximately six weeks in September and October, and the twins were on set for about seven days.
“They absolutely loved being on set,” she said. “At first I thought, ‘oh, it’ll just be a fun story for them when they’re older, I’ll tell them they were in this movie. And then they fell in love with it.”
She said her girls seemed to enjoy the hustle and bustle of an active set, but especially the all-day yogurt and muffin snacks provided. And although the twins were not required to perform a special skill while on-screen, their good behaviour was appreciated.
“The director came up to me and said: ‘I don’t think your kids are real! They haven’t messed up a shot with crying – whenever we put a camera six inches from their face for a closeup, they’re just all smiley and happy,’” said Woodruff.
The hardest part for their mother, however, was keeping the girls busy off-screen.
“Being a mom of twins is busy and difficult on its own, but the most challenging part was making sure they’re napped and fed,” she said.
Woodruff first learned of the casting callout after being tagged in a Facebook post and she then sent a background actor casting agent photos of her daughters. However, by the end, they were hired as principal actors.
With the roaring success of their first film behind them, Baylee and Charlee will also appear in the sequel to Lifetime’s The Bad Seed, filmed in Langley for approximately four weeks in November and December. Given that they were on set for nine days, Woodruff imagines her twins will get more screen time in their second movie appearance.
From The Bad Seed sequel, Vancouver talent agency Twins Plus Talent recently signed Baylee and Charlee, allowing for more possible acting opportunities in the future.
“Who knows what they’ll want to do when they get older. But we’re totally open to it. As long as they keep enjoying it, we’ll keep supporting it,” said Woodruff, adding that all the money her daughters make gets put into a savings account for college. “They’re just working for themselves to do whatever they want to in the future.”
The Christmas House 2: Deck Those Halls premieres Saturday, Dec. 18, at 5 p.m. (PST) on the Hallmark Channel and W Network.