Christmas at the Chateau

December 18, 2018

Written by Rachel McCoy | Photographs submitted by Jason Hudson


DEFINITION: pertaining to or suitable for a feast or festival; joyous; merry.

Soon, the amazing architecture, one-of-a-kind local businesses and laid-back community feel that makes St. Joe so uncommon will be shared in living rooms and imaginations across the country (and/or the world). Following formal distribution of the locally-filmed movie “Christmas at the Chateau” in 2019, it’s likely that many watching from home will say “Where did they film this? This place is amazing.”

As of December 2018, several thousand locals already have an excited answer to this question. Local film producer Jason Hudson will release his movie “Christmas at the Chateau” just before the holidays at a special weekend-long launch at the historic Missouri Theater. Filmed entirely in St. Joseph, the movie uses the Shakespeare Chateau Inn and Gardens on legendary Hall Street as its central location. Other film scenes include aerial views of downtown, scenes inside cafes like Brioche and shots inside the beautiful downtown St. Joseph Public Library. More than 200 locals participated as extras to help tell the tale of three sisters who must try to save a family-owned historic inn from corrupt bankers at Christmas (complicated by the romance between one of the sisters and a handsome banker). Hudson says the movie has a feel like “Sleepless in Seattle” or “You’ve Got Mail.”

Filming took place across much of 2018, including a perfect snow that covered the downtown set with an iconic natural sparkle. If you’re thinking Hallmark movie, you’d be thinking like a lot of St. Joseph residents and the producer himself. The movie’s theme, setting and overall appeal is in line with much-loved Hallmark Christmas movies. Hudson says official distribution across 2019 will include connections and conversations at many levels – as well as streaming and DVD – but that the community will need to wait in anticipation to see how the story unfolds.

Viewers will recognize several familiar faces as extras and many will know the lead female, St. Joseph-born actress Kinsey Leigh Redmond. Most of the additional cast members are also from the area. The creativity and community spirit of many area entrepreneurs and residents shines through, including the fact that the Chateau remained functioning and open as a bed and breakfast even during filming. For months, the “talk of the town” has been that the movie is a beautiful way to appreciate and share many of the people, places and distinct ambiance that make St. Joe so special.

A full weekend of celebration is planned for Dec. 21-23, 2018. On Friday evening, Dec. 21, it’s a red-carpet actors’ limo arrival at the Missouri Theater followed by the premier movie showing. (Built originally as a silent movie house in 1927, the Missouri Theater is a true national gem and returns to its roots with the movie premier.)

On Saturday, Dec. 22, a noon showing includes an official introduction and giveaways, followed by an hour-long Q and A panel with the actors. The evening showing features another pre-show event with actors’ arrival, and a “behind the scenes” special event. Following the 6 p.m. showing, guests will enjoy an actors’ meet and greet.

On Sunday, Dec. 23, two more showings will bring guests into the story. There’s an introduction and giveaways before the 2 p.m. presentation, and then a final farewell and more giveaways just before the 6 p.m. show. For those wanting to see the awe-inspiring Shakespeare Chateau Inn and Gardens first-hand, there’s an open house to the public to tour on Sunday December 23, from 12 to 4 p.m.

Can’t wait for the show? You can have a behind-the-scenes peek right now with this Q and A with Jason Hudson:

How did you start in the film industry – and – where would you like to go in the film industry?

I’ve been working in the film industry for over a decade. Projects include the classic movie about basketball legend “The Pistol: Pete Maravich Story,” a military Christmas movie called “Last Ounce of Courage” released in 1,400 theaters nationwide and sold at Walmart, Redbox, Netflix, Hulu and Amazon; a mini documentary called “Saving Middle America,” and this year we finished “Christmas At the Chateau” premiering at Missouri Theater. Are you from this area? What’s your background?

I’m originally from Kansas City. I made little funny movies with my friends in high school. I took every art class available. I moved to St Joseph in early 2000s and started in video production and advertising. I’ve worked on hundreds of video projects, short films, and commercials over the last 18 years. But my passion is telling stories. Love it.

When did you get the vision for the movie – and who has helped you carry it to fruition?

We started with people who said “Yes.” Before developing the story, we had asked several of our favorite St Joseph locations and top actors from Kansas City if they’d be interested in a Christmas movie. So we wrote the story around the people and places that said “Yes.” And now they’re all in the movie.

Why St. Joe for the film?

Why St Joe? I love this city, its history and its beauty. And it helps that I live here. (Note: Hudson is a native of Kansas City. His wife grew up in St. Joseph and now they choose to call it home with their family).

Why is the Chateau the right choice as a main setting?

Our goal with this movie was to showcase St Joseph to the outside world … to show off what we have here. The Shakespeare Chateau is one of the most iconic and beautiful historic locations in St. Joseph. And since the mansion is so valuable, it was the perfect location for a Christmas story about three sisters trying to save it from foreclosure.

What are some other filming locations in St. Joe?

We centered the movie around five historic locations to showcase a glimpse of St. Joseph’s architectural beauty: the Shakespeare Chateau, the Downtown Public Library, Brioche Cafe, the First National Bank Building, and of course the city’s downtown area.

Has St Joe been friendly and easy to work with for the project? Is there anything that’s unique to St. Joe that has helped bring this to fruition?

This community completely embraced and supported this movie from start to finish. We had over 200 locals show up to be extras. Tons of local businesses let us film in front of or inside their facilities, and we’ve already sold more than 2,500 tickets for the premiere. This just shows that St. Joseph is proud to be a part of movies like this.

After the Missouri Theater debut, what happens to the film next?

There are several fun events planned for the debut weekend. There’s an official red carpet event with limos for the actors and several special events across the five showings. This entire event is going down in St. Joseph history and will be remembered and cherished for years.

We’ll release official information on distribution once it becomes available, but the movie will for sure be on DVD and streaming.

What about this project is especially exciting to you?

Honestly, I’m most excited to see people’s reactions to the movie. To see people laugh, cry and feel good at the end would be the best reward for me. People who love Christmas classics like “You’ve Got Mail” will love this movie.

I encourage people to continue supporting the local film arts. We want to continue telling stories in and about St Joseph, but we need the community to team up with us like they did on this movie. If you’re a filmmaker, writer, actor or just want to help out … please let us know!

Stay tuned for news and updates of the premier of “Christmas at the Chateau,” a creative and festive snapshot into what makes St. Joseph uncommon.


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