Park City actress enjoyed filming ‘The Christmas Project’
DVD is now available
Park City resident and actress Pam Eichner has portrayed many different types of characters throughout her independent film career.
She’s walked down the dark path of depression in Shelly Brandon’s “Undertow” and explored the challenges of being the wife of an unfaithful spouse in Rob Diamond’s “Sacred Vow.”
“It probably sounds really corny, but all the roles have special places in my heart,” Eichner told The Park Record. “I really enjoy the roles where there is some depth to the character, where there is something going on other than what you see. I like characters that are way different than I am.”
Eichner’s most recent film, Michael Buster’s “The Christmas Project,” which was released on DVD last month and is a top seller at Deseret Book, sees the actress as an elementary school teacher named Mrs. Honeywell.
“The Christmas Project” is a family-friendly story about two brothers who decided to fight back against a group of bullies during the Christmas season, Eichner said.
“It’s the sweetest movie,” she said. “It’s one of those feel-good films that is perfect for the season.”
Mrs. Honeywell was a fun character for Eichner to play.
“She’s very dedicated to and involved in what she’s doing,” Eichner said. “Not only does she like the kids she teaches, she sees quite a bit of what goes on with them.
“A lot of times, students don’t really think about their teachers as a person, because they see them as people who materialize in classrooms every day,” she said. “But through the voice over in the film, the main character does realize that his teacher knows more than she’s letting on, and that there is a reason she is doing what she’s doing, as she helps a troubled kid in the class to find his way.”
Although the film is a feel-good film, it does address the issue of bullying.
“Bullying takes many forms and it can have a profound effect on kids, their home lives and their school careers,” Eichner said. “At its core, this movie shows a behind the scenes glimpse of factors that may lead one child to bully another and it shows how compassion can play a role in turning the situation around.”
Eichner, who was recently asked to be the Utah Ambassador for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, knows how lucky she was to land the Mrs. Honeywell role.
“There were only three adults who were cast in the film,” she said.
Initially the Mrs. Honeywell character was supposed to be younger.
“They had named her Miss something or another,” Eichner said. “Then I got called in for and audition and then got a call back.”
After Eichner was cast, the character was changed to Mrs. Honeywell.
“Everyone kept teasing me and calling me Honey Badger on set,” Eichner said with a laugh.
The joking showed how fun the shoot was.
“We shot it last winter in Mapleton at Mapleton Elementary School,” Eichner said. “It was a sweet little town and a gorgeous setting, with a mountainous backdrop.
“However, that provided some treacherous driving because it’s an hour away from Park City,” she said. “You finish shooting at two in the morning and there was a lot of snow on the ground.”
The script, written by Sally Meyer, was based on the books “Bullies in the Headlights” and “Chicken in the Headlights” by Matthew Buckley.
“I had worked with [Sally] in another Christmas film, ‘Christmas for a Dollar,’” Eichner said. “She’s brilliant.”
“The Christmas Project” was directed by Michael Buster, known for his acting in “The Summer House,” “Saints and Soldiers” and “The Yankees.”
Buster’s son Jacob played Matthew Buckley, the lead in the “The Christmas Project.”
“Jacob is unbelievably talented to the point where it’s scary,” Eichner said. “In fact, the whole is carried by a cast of incredible kids.”
The quality of actors made the shoot run smoothly and efficiently.
“When you’re doing a film, you have so much work to do in such a short amount of time: especially with independent films,” Eichner explained. “You need to get things in the can to keep it all on budget, and that creates a tight environment and close atmosphere for all those involved. You get to know people really quickly.”
That’s the best part of any project, she said.
“Also, every day is different,” Eichner said. “It’s not like a play where you do the same thing every night. When you shoot a film, you may go to different locations and work with different actors.”
Eichner is thankful for the opportunity to appear in a Christmas film.
“I love the movies that I have done are family friendly and that my kids are welcome on the set,” she said.
“The Christmas Project” is available on DVD at Deseret Book and Amazon.com.
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