ROCKPORT — ZDF, a German television company, is back once again in Cape Ann to shoot two films this season, one of which is currently underway.
For the past six years, the network — through its U.S.-based production affiliate Van Wormer International — has shot a series of German-language films in the area, most of which are loosely based on the works of British romance author Katie Fforde.
"(The producers) really like filming in gorgeous locations and beaches," said Josh Schneider, the location manager for the shoot. "Originally the films were shot in upstate New York, but after a while they found it's much nicer here. They started writing original scripts for the North Shore."
"Katie Fforde presents: Hotel Mama," the film currently being shot, is one of those original stories. Helen, the protagonist, is a single mother who left medical school to raise her son, Louis. Now that Louis is an adult, she's ready to leave her drugstore job behind and go back to school. In addition to dealing with her ill-tempered professor and a new love interest, Helen has to find a way to convince the homebody Louis to move out on his own.
The film crew shot in town in Rockport last week — three days on Main Street and one day on Dock Square.
"We shot at an empty storefront on Main Street," said Schneider. "Our art department brought in all sorts of furniture to make it look like a drugstore." The final result was so convincing that "people were coming in and asking when we were opening."
Starting this week, the film will resume shooting at Conomo Point in Essex. Other upcoming filming locations include Danvers, Lawrence and Haverhill. Over the past six summers, various locales on Cape Ann have appeared in the series.
Although "Hotel Mama" doesn't have a premiere date, Schneider expects it to air sometime next spring. It will be available to stream on the ZDF website sometime after its initial broadcast.
The second movie, which is currently under wraps, will begin shooting in Gloucester this August, according to Schneider.
Michael Cronin may be contacted at 978-675-2708, or firstname.lastname@example.org.