The movie version of author Philip Craig’s “A Beautiful Place to Die,” the first in his 22-book Vineyard mystery series, will air on the Hallmark Channel on Sunday, Jan. 12, at 8 pm. (The Edgartown library will screen the movie that night, but seating is limited to 100 people.)
Craig’s family — wife Shirley, son Jamie, and daughter Kimberlie — are looking forward to watching. After stops and starts with other production companies, Shirley Craig optioned the first four books in the series to a Hallmark production company, with a second contract that the Craigs’ son Jamie serve as consultant. Jamie, full-time with the Edgartown Police Department since 1996, earned a degree in motion picture and television production, and is a member of the Writer’s Guild of America. Filming today, he said, is definitely different from when he was at it years ago. When he went to film school, movies were shot on, well, film.
“Nobody knows what that is anymore,” Jamie laughed. “It’s all digital … they’re shooting eight tracks of sound, using three cameras; they aren’t burning through film, and they capture a lot at any given time.”
Most of the filming for the TV movie took place in Victoria, B.C., with Jamie traveling there for a short visit, but doing the lion’s share of his work remotely. He said he could view the raw footage that was shot that same day. He has seen what is likely the closest version of what will air on Sunday, Jamie said. He’s been involved in the production process and editing the scripts, so he’s seen several iterations along the way. The entire Craig clan watched the same version together over the holidays. Since Jamie was involved, the company agreed with his suggestion that some scenes be shot on the Island.
“I followed them around one day while they were here, and it was really interesting,” Shirley said. “Jamie knew what pictures needed taking and from what angle. They noticed he knew what he was doing.”
She said she was glad to see Jamie so immersed in something he enjoys so much, and that Philip would have definitely enjoyed the process. She said she recently reread “A Beautiful Place to Die,” something she hadn’t done in 30 years.
“I thought it was incredibly well-plotted, reading it for the second time 30 years later,” Shirley said. “I have a feeling Phil is up there laughing at all this, but I’m sure he’d enjoy the ride.”
Shirley and Jamie both said that parts of the story will be altered a bit, because the book is three decades old and because it will be tweaked to fit the Hallmark model, and they both noted that Philip Craig knew that was part of the deal when a book is made into a film. He even taught a class at Wheelock College, Jamie said, where students compared the book and film versions of stories.
“I think it’s interesting that all these years later, people are still reading his books and still interested,” Shirley said.
The Craigs hope to show the film on-Island so that the community can watch it together. “The Vineyard is a character in those books,” Shirley said.