RANTOUL — When plans were made to have a live reindeer included in a scene for a Christmas movie being shot in Chicago, organizers wondered how safe it would be.
Not to worry. Not when Jingles, one of the main attractions from Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch in rural Rantoul, is one of the co-stars.
“One of the crew members ... told me when they had looked into renting a reindeer for a scene, there was concern about having a reindeer face to face with one of the cast,” said Jenna Musgrave, daughter of Mark and Julie Hardy, who run the reindeer ranch. “To them, a reindeer is a wild animal. There was concern how close they could get.”
They didn’t realize giving kisses to Jingles is one of the attractions at the ranch.
“Jingles was probably the highlight of the shoot for the crew,” director Ari Golan said.
It took a while to start the shoot because all of the cast and crew were wanting to feed the reindeer.
“Jingles was giving everybody a reindeer kiss for reindeer cookies,” Musgrave said. “I think they were very endeared with her.”
Then Jingles was ready for her closeup.
Musgrave, who helps at the ranch and serves as its social-media manager, said Jingles, who is 6, frequently makes public appearances because of her temperament.
When the call came in to Hardy’s inquiring about hiring a reindeer, Mark Hardy said two hours is the maximum time she would be available. Otherwise, Jingles turns into a diva and tires of all the attention.
On the set, there were lots of takes and various shots, some of which included artificial fog rolling in. Musgrave said her concerns that Jingles would be skittish were unfounded.
“It didn’t bother her at all,” she said.
The made-for-TV movie stars Claire Van Der Linden and has a cast of 15.
Golan said the film, the name of which he didn’t release, “is your typical Christmas movie where the female lead is a businesswoman from Chicago who hates Christmas and is ordered to take a mandatory vacation by her boss.”
She goes to the country and meets the man of her dreams played by Kyle Patrick but has to win over his 10-year-old daughter.
No, it’s not a Hallmark movie, but very much that type, Golan said. It will be domestically and internationally distributed, and most likely will have a limited theatrical release as well.
Golan said Hardy and Musgrave “were great to work with. Jingles was probably the most behaved member of our cast.”
Said Musgrave of her father: “When we were done filming and getting back in the trailer, Mark said, ‘The other reindeer aren’t going to believe her when she tells them what she did today.’”