Haylie Duff
1st Full Length Feature Film

 

Haylie's Movie
Filmed in Houston, TX
Summer of 1999

 

 

 Reflections!
I remember when it all began.  Carolyn Clark sent me the script for "Dreams in the Attic".  I went through it and marked it all up and put suggestions in the margins and on the back side of various pages.  It was fun.  I liked the story because it was wholesome and clean and about kids.  It was a project I wanted to be involved in.  She wanted to shoot it in Houston, and already had a local production company lined up to film it. 

Carolyn invited me to the first casting call.  That is where I met Haylie, Hilary and Susan Duff for the first time.  This was in the summer of 1999.  Hilary had not landed the "Lizzy McGuire" role at Disney yet. Looking back at this now, I can see how much like "Lizzy" Hilary was when I met her.  Off camera she has the same quick, bubbly personality as displayed in her on-screen character. 

The casting process took some time, but finally the cast for "Dreams in the Attic" was assembled.  There was one exception though.  The part of the movie's "Mom" had not yet been cast .  At Susan Duff's prompting, Carolyn contacted Mary McDonough (Waltons).  She was shocked when Mary said that she would accept the role.  Carolyn worked to arrange the shooting schedule so Mary would only have to be in Houston for three days.

Many locations were used in and around Houston, but several stand out in my mind because I visited those sites during the filming.  Two were in Galveston, Texas, which is an island city (a bridge connects it to the Texas mainland) about 60 - 70 miles Southeast of Houston.  One was a candy store in an area of Galveston called the "Strand"  It had the look of a malt shop so was ideally suited for Haylie's big scene where her character's (Jessica), "Dream" was fulfilled..... which was to have the coolest guy at her school be her steady boyfriend.  Later, she finds out that the boy is dishonest & a total jerk.

 

Filming at the Candy store had to be done at night because the store was open during the day for normal, non-movie business.  I remember seeing Susan Duff working hard at 2:30 am in the morning to arrange the food tables for the cast and crew.  Talk about a humble heart!  I think I went home about 3:30am, but the rest of them were there till after the sun came up.

The other Galveston location was at an old, but very well stocked Costume shop.  This is where Jessica (Haylie) was employed by her Aunt Nellie (Shelley Duvall) , the shop's proprietor.  It was also the place that had the magical trunk in the attic that produced the costumes that would whisk those that wore them to the fulfillment of their dreams. 

It was August, and very hot outside.  The "attic" was actually a small storeroom on the first floor that was cooled by a window A/C unit.  Every time the camera and sound recorder would roll, the A/C had to be shut off because of the noise.  You can imagine how hot it got in this small space with the actors and all the crew members and no air conditioning!

Another location was at the Duff's home here in Houston.  I don't remember where the rest of the Duff family was at the time, but Haylie was apparently house sitting while they were out of town.  The production company virtually took over the house.  A number of scenes were shot there in various rooms in their house.  This included the kitchen, the family room, and both Hilary's & Haylie's rooms upstairs.  A local TV station even showed up to tape some news footage about the movie and a brief interview with Mary McDonough.

At one point between takes, I asked Haylie about the "Zappy" electric scooter that she had told me about at the first casting call.  I just wanted to see what the scooter looked like.  Haylie led the way out to the Duff's garage.  There were actually two Zappys in their garage.  One was her sister Hilary's and the other was her's.  She gave me a few minutes of instruction, and the next thing I knew, I was zipping down her driveway and out into the street on Hilary's scooter.  Haylie was in the lead on hers.  It was a little scary, but a whole lot of fun!

By January of 2000 Carolyn had edited the film, found a distributor, and was ready to take the film to NATPE in Los Angeles.  NATPE is a huge gathering of film producers and buyers from TV, cable and satellite program providers.  In other words, she was going there to sell the film.  Carolyn and her husband invited me to come along.  One of the highlights of the 4 days that we were there, was a private, by invitation only, screening of the movie for potential buyers.  Mary McDonough was there for the screening. It was the first time I got to see the actual finished product. The film was quite a bit different from the original script I had seen, and it was kind of a "rough" edit.  It probably should have been a bit more "fine tuned" before it was shown to potential buyers.

We also saw Susan Duff and Haylie on a number of occasions while we were in L.A.  We had dinner with them our first or second nite, and spent additional time with them on our last day having lunch and browsing some of the shops on famous "Rodeo Drive" in Beverly Hills.  Susan also stopped by NATPE one afternoon to visit us.

One of the days we were in L.A., I had the privilege of accompanying Carolyn to the Disney Channel Building in Burbank to drop off a copy of the film.  Can you imagine the thrill of riding the Disney Channel elevator to the 21st floor, and stepping out into the reception area of Ann Sweeney's office (person in charge of the Disney Channel at that time)!  That was a blast!  Of course I never got to see Ms. Sweeney, but it was still exciting!

Well, the sad thing was that all these efforts never resulted in the film being sold to anyone.  Carolyn told me that generally Independent Producers rarely sell their first movie efforts.  So I guess we shouldn't feel bad that this one didn't sell.  A lot of people put a lot of effort into the making of "Dreams in the Attic", including Haylie and her Mom.  We did learn lot from the experience though. 

Carolyn went on to produce a syndicated show called "Teen Talk" which featured Haylie in one or more of the pilot episodes.  I was not involved in that project.  However, I was invited to watch a taping session for the first pilot.  I did get to speak to Haylie for a few minutes afterward.  And that was the very last time I spoke with her.  I think that was in the summer of 2000 or 2001.

Hope you enjoyed these "Reflections" and insights into a little known phase of Haylie Duff's life.  I took some snap shots during the production phase of the Movie, and while I was in L.A. with the Clarks that you can view by clicking the "Dreams Movie" link at the top of this page.

 

-Bro Bob

Disclaimer:  1.  Haylie Duff is not accountable for, nor accepts no responsibility for the contents of this website. 2. This website has no provision for receiving e-mail correspondence for Haylie Duff.  3.  "Reflections" above are based solely on the personal experiences, observations and opinions of Bro Bob. 4.  Animated GIF courtesy Microsoft Corporation On-Line Clips.   5.  Movie poster courtesy Clark Productions   6.. Thank you for visiting !