CLEVELAND — The movie ‘A Christmas Story’ has found a place in many hearts and homes over the last 30 years, and one of FOX 8’s own has an especially personal connection to the film.
Anchor Stefani Schaefer will tell you she was “just an extra,” but the experience made quite the impression on her as a child.
The talent agency to which she and her brother belonged sent their pictures to the producers, who approved and invited them to be in the movie.
She remembers starting the project right after school one day. She was in sixth grade at the time.
“And when we went to the costume folks who were getting us fitted for costumes they said, ‘I love that skirt, would you wear that?’ So I actually wore my Catholic school skirt as the dress and then they fitted me with a little light blue beret with a light blue jacket,” Stefani said.
Her parents ended up in the movie, too.
“The producers said, ‘Hey, we love your look and you’ve gotta drive the kids to be extras, so do you guys want to get paid too and be extras?’ So my parents went, ‘Why not?’ So all four of us were extras in the movie,” Stefani explained.
At one point in the filming, Stefani was positioned right next to the star, Peter Billingsley, in the scene with the iconic slide in Higbee’s.
But what Stefani expected would be a big moment was just the opposite. The director thought her costume looked too prosperous for the time of the film. He moved her to the back of the crowd.
The experience was still invaluable.
“You learn, especially at a young age, what the making of the movie is about,” Stefani reflected. “We shot that scene of all the kids up on that stairwell going to see Santa for a long time, and when you finally see the final production of the movie, it’s not on there that long. You learn that you have to be patient, that work takes a long time, especially something like that; that a lot goes into something, but it was just a great experience for us, and we all got little checks at the end so it was great!”
And the relationship with the rest of the cast made it even more special.
“You know something that I remember so much about the movie is Peter Billingsley, obviously the star of the movie, but he was so nice to everyone,” Stefani said. “My brother and I, we were just extras, but we filmed for several days. (Billingsley) was so nice to all of us. We would play games together; we would hang out together during breaks; we would eat together. He never seemed like he was the star, and like was he was untouchable.”
Like many families, Stefani’s family watches ‘A Christmas Story’ every year.
“It’s always so fun to sit with my kids now and watch it and point out everybody and talk about the day when we used to shoot,” she said. “It was just such an incredible experience. We never ever dreamt at the time it would be such a big movie and so many years later so popular.”
Watch the video above as Stefani Schaefer shares more memories from her experience.