Austinite writes the movie Hallmark Christmas
This summer, there are inns to save and sprigs of mistletoe waiting to welcome a kiss.
Starting this weekend, the Hallmark Channel will present a “Christmas in July” marathon of its cinematic holiday confections made for television, beloved (and perhaps sometimes vilified) for their kitsch embrace and the tropi of tropes. Series premiere at 8 p.m. Saturday: “Crashing Through the Snow”, starring Amy Acker (known for her televised roles in “Angel” and “Person of Interest”) and written by Tamar Laddy, a resident of ‘Austin.
Laddy, a senior lecturer in the Department of Radio-Television-Film at the University of Texas, is a pro in the TV scriptwriters’ room. She cut her teeth in soap operas like “General Hospital” and racked up credits like “Hart of Dixie”, “Pretty Little Liars” and “The Lying Game”.
“Crashing Through the Snow” is her first Hallmark Christmas film, although she is not a newbie in the genre.
“I’ve watched so many,” she said. “And not just the Hallmark ones – I tend to get sucked in by the Netflix ones. They really have my number.
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Laddy first met the Hallmark team in February 2020. They spent the last year writing the screenplay for “Crashing Through the Snow”, and it was given the green light for production earlier this year. The movie is set in Austin and Aspen, but it was shot in Winnipeg and Banff, Canada “to catch the snow,” Laddy says.
In the movie, an Austin single mom named Maggie (played by Acker) is closely co-parented with her ex-husband (played by Kristian Bruun), and they always have a habit of sharing vacations together. When Jeff starts dating a woman named Kate (played by Brooke Nevin), they decide to bring the kids to Colorado to celebrate Christmas with his family. Maggie ends up crushing Christmas – there it is – and yes, there is romance in the snow.
“It was really, really enjoyable, during the dark depths of the pandemic, to write a Christmas movie full of joy, comedy and fun,” Laddy said.
So, put away your red, white and blue decoration if you haven’t already. Let’s move on to December. We caught up with Laddy last week to talk about evoking the magic of Christmas from deep in the heart of Texas, as well as what makes a perfect Hallmark holiday movie. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
American-Statesman: What made you want to bring a little Austin to this Hallmark Christmas movie?
Tamar Lady: I really felt a part of the place and wanted to highlight it. I haven’t seen everything that (Hallmark has) done, but I haven’t seen too much happening here. I think Texas occupies a very important place in popular culture. People have all kinds of ideas about Texas and what it is, and I just thought it would be nice to give a slice of life here.
What were the inspirational threads that you used to create this story?
The inspiration was really my sister-in-law – not that something happened to her like that, but she’s a single mom. I just watched her over the years, her Herculean efforts to make her son’s life as wonderful and magical as possible, despite the circumstances of not always being able to be with him for the holidays.
This is something that a lot of people are likely to identify with.
I mean, (when) I grew up, my parents were divorced and remarried, so we definitely dealt with a blended family dynamic. I think there may be challenges.
Branded films have some of the same romantic elements as soap operas. They’re not serialized, but the stakes are often higher, let’s say. They have truly become a cultural institution. I know this is the first Hallmark Christmas movie you are writing, but what do you think makes it a good one?
I think a lot of it is a question of ingrained emotion and characters. So the characters are going through something really relatable. And also, I think there’s definitely been a trend in the last few years… you would watch them, and women would uproot their lives by the end of the movie. … I turned to my husband and said, “Oh no, at the end of this movie, she’s going to give up her career to move to this other city with a man she just met. Because inevitably with these Christmas movies you have people who come from different places and meet somewhere. We will have to rethink what will be the vision of their life afterwards.
I think it’s totally offbeat, and it’s changing. I think the best are, as I said, more grounded in real emotion. They will always have some kind of fun fantasy element going for them, and there will always be those about the woman who is to marry the prince. But for me, the ones I answer the most are the ones about people and their lives, who have something amazing going on.
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There has been talk of the Hallmark Christmas films, in particular, making strides in portraying more diverse stories. Last year in particular, they had their first gay romance, and they produced more black stories. What do you think of this seismic change in this very traditional TV tariff?
I think it’s going in the right direction for sure, and the more representation we can have the better, because all kinds of people fall in love, and all kinds of people watch and love these movies and should be. see represented in it. . I should say that my movie, “Crashing,” doesn’t have that element or that component in it, but I’ve certainly worked, or am working, to present them more stories that do.
Why do you think these types of made-for-TV vacation movies have carved out such a niche for themselves over the past few years?
Oh, it’s all about the happy ending. At the very start of the pandemic, Hallmark had a Christmas marathon. It was just, you know, that’s what we need right now – a little positivity and a little Christmas in our lives. I think people yearn for this. We think of Christmas, we think of tradition, of family and of the heart. It sort of conjures up a lot of that to people. But I think that’s the happy ending, that these movies end at a time when things are resolved.
Which is really different for me from TV shows. I teach TV series at UT … where you really try to come up with storylines that are very messy at the end, and you don’t want to wrap it all up in a neat arc because you need something to say during the week. next, such as ongoing conflicts. So it was a really different experience writing this and tackling what was going to be a closed story.
It’s so funny, because (those movies) were my guilty pleasure. I would sit and watch them sometimes with my 7 year old son. … The more people I talk to, the more people come out and say, “Oh yeah, I love these movies. And I think that’s because they’re so uplifting. I don’t think they have to be a dirty little secret.