Lights, Camera, Harlingen: Local artist helps produce Christmas horror film in town

HARLINGEN — Melissa Vega is usually on the other side of the camera — acting.

But this time she’s helping produce a movie in town, and she even created the movie’s villain.

“I created the elf for this film,” Vega said.

She didn’t make one of Santa’s little helpers. She created a sinister looking elf doll that comes to life and terrorizes the main characters of the movie with its evil powers.

Vega, a Rio Grande Valley actress, has participated in local independent films that have had national and international distribution.

“It was exciting to see her artistic creativity that she put into it,” Justin Price, the movie’s director, said about Vega’s creation. “It’s something unique.”

The film’s working title is The Elf. It is a Christmas horror story in the same vein as “Krampus” — a 2015 Christmas comedy horror film — and “Gremlins” — a family-friendly 1984 comedy horror film.

The movie focuses on the elf, which has been handed down to the main character.

Price said the biggest challenge making the Christmas movie was creating snow during the summer in Harlingen.

“We have the elf chasing people around and freezing people,” Price said.

The movie ended filming in the Valley a week ago and is planned for its debut around Christmastime on Direct TV, according to the movie director.

“I did what I could with the time I had because they needed to start production,” Vega said about the task of making the elf.

“I did OK, and I know what to do for the next time.”

Vega, a recent fine arts graduate from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, begins work on her master’s degree in the fall.

She said the elf gave her a scare several times while she worked creating it between finding movie locations for filming.

“The first thing I thought of was Downtown Jackson,” Vega said. “It’s so beautiful here.”

The main part of the film takes place inside the Jackson Street Antiques store posing as a toy store left to the main character of the movie.

“It fit everything we were looking for in the script,” Price said.

He said it’s very difficult to find this kind of location for a movie and this is one of the oldest buildings in town, which will make the movie more unique.

“It’s really a fun project and we couldn’t be more excited working with the talent we have filmed,” Price said.

Price said the movie will be a Direct TV exclusive during the Christmas season.

“We try to cast a lot of local talent as much as we can,” he said. “This will be our third film shot here in the last year.”