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Christine Conradt watches a monitor as the scene unfolds in front of her.

The camera pans across with a living room filled with colorful, crumpled wrapping paper and a Christmas tree to a man and woman sitting on a couch.

Suddenly, a little boy runs across the room and hops on the couch, handing the man a gift. The man unwraps the present, which is a calendar, and the boy points out his birthday.

Soon, the scene is over, but it will be repeated a couple more times. Conradt appears happy when they have two good takes before the crew heads out for lunch — at 7 p.m.

Conradt, a former Fremonter, is the director and writer of “12 Days of Giving,” which was filmed in different locations throughout the city this month. The family oriented Christmas movie is about a man who becomes a town’s Secret Santa and befriends a boy who has lost his father.

Filming, which began Feb. 2, concluded on Friday. Cast members included about 20 main actors and an estimated 120 background actors. There were between 35 and 40 crew members, said Kevin McMahon, location manager and former Fremont resident.

The California-based Expression Entertainment is producing the movie and plans are to have the film out at Christmas 2017.

Where the movie will appear hasn’t been determined.

“It could be in the movie theaters,” said Producer Boris Isaac. “It could be on TV. We don’t know yet. One of the things that we do with the film is literally sell it. You go to the distributors.”

In the meantime, there was work to do Thursday evening, while the crew was filming at a house on Maxwell Avenue.

Ashley Jones, who stars as Pamela Collins in the movie, was excited after filming the Christmas scene in the living room with actors David Blue as Baxter Billings and Jax Connolly as Westin.

Standing in the kitchen, Jones told what she’s enjoyed about the movie.

“I think it started with the script. I loved the script,” Jones said. “I’ve always wanted to do a Christmas movie my whole life. I think a lot of people want to do something their whole family can watch together.

“This movie has such a particular spirit that I think our world needs right now,” Jones added. “I like the pay-it-forward theme — hence the title.”

Conradt’s idea for the script came from something that happened about eight years ago when an anonymous donor paid off layaway items. The goodwill gesture spread to about five states.

“That’s where I got the inspiration of creating a character who would do something like that,” Conradt said.

Conradt, who lived in Fremont for a year, grew up in Lincoln, then moved to California to go to college. She’s been excited to return to Fremont.

“People have been wonderful,” Conradt said. “Everything you would expect people of Fremont and Nebraska to be, they have been.”

McMahon said Conradt and the film’s producers came to scout out the area in December.

“They liked the look,” McMahon said. “It’s a cute, picturesque, little town and every location they had in the script, they could see it here.”

Producer Chris Goodman spoke favorably of the community.

“There’s a cool energy in this town,” he said.

The independent movie was filmed in various locations, including Fremont Mall, Fremont Family YMCA lodge and lake, the Corner Bar, the Seventh Day Adventist Church and at private residences.

Isaac enjoyed filming on location.

“You get to come to a brand, new state, learn about their culture,” the producer said. “You get to film on locations that you’ve never seen before. One of my favorites was at the Platte River. That was super fun. There’s so much history behind it.”

McMahon enjoyed filming at Fremont Mall.

“We had a lot of space and the mall was very, very good to us,” he said.

Conradt will remember the filming at mall and the number of people, who weren’t even booked, but came out to be in the background.

“They just wanted to be in the movie and they were as professional as any background person you’d get in Hollywood,” Conradt said. “You would think they were professionals. They were great. We used all of them and we featured many of them.”

Former Nebraska first lady Sally Ganem was among the background talent at the mall. She was instructed to take a change of clothes for a two-day sequence.

“The best part is meeting all the other extras and I got a chance to meet one of the stars. That was fun,” Ganem said, adding, “I think it’s so cool that Fremont is working to bring the film industry here.”

Looking back, Conradt also commended Angie Wyle of Sidner Ice Arena, adding that the place is a wonderful location and has terrific production value.

Saying farewell can be a sad thing for a cast and crew when the filming on location is done.

“Oftentimes, we spend so many hours on the set every day, it’s almost like we adopt a new family and then you say goodbye to your new family,” McMahon said.

Yet people who get to be part of a movie are fulfilling a dream and feel a sense of accomplishment.

“Getting to actually do what you’ve dreamed of is a wonderful thing,” McMahon said. “And it’s even more wonderful when you get to do it in your hometown.”

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News Editor

Tammy Real-McKeighan is news editor of the Fremont Tribune. She covers news, features, religion stories and writes the weekly faith-based, Spiritual Spinach column.

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