Movie scenes shot at local landmarks – Times News Online
Dan Roebuck, a native of Bethlehem, returned to the Lehigh Valley in August to begin filming “The Hail Mary,” his third project shot entirely in the area.
The actor and director said he loves the Lehigh Valley for many reasons.
“The place, its beauty, the art, the food – but above all, the people here are special,” Roebuck said. “And Northampton, with the Alliance Seminar, Restaurant and Bar, had everything I needed.”
Filming for the film began July 20 and is scheduled to wrap August 20 at various locations across the valley, but the lion’s share took place at Mary Immaculate Seminary, 300 Cherryville Road, Lehigh Township.
“The location was all encompassing. We did our outdoor scenes, our classroom scenes, our cafeteria scenes, it was all there. It was so perfect,” said Beth Clausnitzer, producer and extra casting director on the project.
Other Northampton locations included Alliance Fire Company, 717 Washington Ave., for the bar scene and Northampton Diner and Family Restaurant, 1205 Main St., for the restaurant scene.
“Northampton have been amazing, I say that for sure. They have been more than generous,” Clausnitzer said.
Tony Pristash of Northampton, who met Roebuck three years ago at a Phantoms hockey game, acted as borough liaison. He said he was happy to help because Roebuck is “just the nicest guy in the world. It makes you feel like a million bucks.
Roebuck said he had some history with the seminary as a student attending Bethlehem Catholic High School. He remembers going there for “about four hours two afternoons” and being impressed by its beauty.
When he learned the site was available for filming, he announced “The Hail Mary” in March 2020 at the Roxy Theatre, 2004 Main St. Northampton. A few days later, the state was shut down due to COVID-19.
He was afraid of losing the location, referring to owner David Jaindl’s plan to turn the seminar property into a spa, resort and events center, but it turned out that COVID-19 brought everything to a halt, including including Jaindl’s plans.
Instead of letting the pandemic stop him, Roebuck shifted gears to start working on a much smaller local production called “Lucky Louie,” which he said was manageable even with all the restrictions. He credits St. Luke’s University Health Network, a sponsor, for keeping him safe during this shoot.
As of summer 2021, the seminar was still available.
“The Jaindls have been great to work with,” Roebuck said.
Thus began the month-long shoot of the highly anticipated “The Hail Mary.”
The film is about a redeeming man who is convinced by a nun at an all-boys school to start and coach a school football team. Roebuck’s production company hires many local cast and crew members, including the 26 boys who are the soccer players.
“Most of them are film or theater majors who have never even put on a football helmet before, but I’m so proud of them! They’ve become a team and look pretty good there -down,” Clausnitzer said.
“I kind of took them as my children,” she continued. “I’ve been with them for a month, answering their questions and being a kind of mother to them.
“It was difficult; the days were very long, sometimes 12 hours a day,” Clausnitzer said, “so they were very busy and very tired, but they were pleasant to work with. They are wonderful children.
She said she told them they would be happy in the end and asked them when would they have another opportunity to work on a feature film.
“The Hail Mary” is the second film produced by A Channel of Peace, Roebuck’s Bethlehem-based nonprofit faith-based production company. They were formed out of Roebuck’s alarm at the level of violence coming from Hollywood. He felt it was time to return to something healthier that the whole family could enjoy, that didn’t preach the faith and included a little humor.
A Channel of Peace usually hires locals and encourages everyone to apply.
“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” said Mike Roy, a behind-the-scenes photographer. “We can teach you to do anything, but you have to be a perfect match with the rest of the crew. Dan will interview you personally to make sure you fit in.
“The Hail Mary” is slated for release in 2022 or 2023. In the meantime, Roebuck is already working on his next idea.
“I will always find something to film here,” Roebuck said, “as long as I have the support of the people of the valley.”
PRESS PHOTO BY MJ KORSAK Bethlehem-born actor and director Dan Roebuck shares his thoughts while filming ‘The Hail Mary’ at the Northampton Diner and Family Restaurant, 1205 Main St.
Beth Clausnitzer, producer and extra casting director on the project, keeps filming of “The Hail Mary” running smoothly at the Northampton Diner and Family Restaurant, 1205 Main St.
PRESS PHOTOS BY MJ KORSAK Elaine Espeland, Roebuck’s mother, is on set as part of the ‘Prayer Team’ which traveled six hours from Washington, DC, for moral support and to act as extras.