Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Film crews shoot the movie A Friggin' Christmas Miracle at the Norcross Station Cafe Wednesday.
NORCROSS -- Gwinnett has been reeled in as the backdrop for another movie.
The comedy "A Friggin' Christmas Miracle" was shot outside of the Norcross Station Cafe from 4 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday. The movie stars Robin Williams, Joel McHale, Lauren Graham, Oliver Platt, Ryan Lee and Candice Bergen, who play a dysfunctional family during the holidays.
Crews reconstructed the exterior of the restaurant to create a winter wonderland with fake snow, pink, purple and white Christmas trees and an area to meet Santa Claus -- complete with a waiting line.
When the city of Norcross was first approached by the production team's location manager Kai Thorup a few weeks ago, he asked if he could strip the leaves from the trees to make the set look chillier than it was. After negotiations, it was decided the film would shoot lower on the trees to get the same effect.
"They really wanted to shoot here in the downtown area, but we wouldn't let them touch the trees," said Tixie Fowler, Norcross' public relations and marketing manager. "But it all worked out and this crew has been great to work with -- very professional."
During the day, people were able to watch scene changes, caught a few glimpses of McHale, Graham and Platt (who was dressed as "Hobo Santa"), and kept quiet when the cameras were rolling. Williams and Bergen weren't on the set.
Other than that, Norcross functioned normally. All of the stores and restaurants throughout downtown were open during regular business hours, and the streets let traffic through except during the actual shooting.
"Actual shooting will only take up 10 to 15 minutes of every hour we're working on Wednesday," Thorup said in a release. "The rest of the time, it'll be getting ready for the next scene. After about 12 hours of shooting, we'll have about 10 minutes of footage when it's all edited together."
Several people came out to watch the filming process, including Shelly Dollar, assistant manager of Vargas and Harbin Studio Gallery located across the street from Norcross Station Cafe. She's hoping the experience brings more people to the city.
"I'm hoping this brings a lot of exposure to Old Town Norcross," she said. "It's a gem in Atlanta and I've seen so many people here today who came specifically because they read that there would be filming here and while they were here, we've talked about (events) in Norcross. I'm thinking this will be a boost for this town."
Folks from outside of Gwinnett traveled to the Norcross after hearing the news of celebrities visiting to film.
"We brought the kids down to the park and had to sneak a peek," Allison Johnson of Roswell said. "I'm excited about knowing it was filmed here because I will pull out my cell phone and show off all the pictures that I took of behind the scenes."
Recently, the cast had been spotted while filming at the Smokerise subdivision in Stone Mountain at a couple of homes, one off Gunstock Drive and another off Old Rosser Road.
The movie is slated to release by the end of the year.