A Hallmark Christmas movie: Behind the scenes


The Catalyst / Photo courtesy of hallmarkchannel.com

Christine Conradt (left) was hired to rewrite the treatment for Hallmark’s new movie, “Open by Christmas”.

Watching Hallmark’s infamous Christmas movies is a tradition held by many during each holiday season. The cute, cheesy movies are a beloved way to bring families together and help them sit back and relax as they enjoy the wholesome love stories unravel.

While watching a movie, most viewers do not think about the work being done behind the scenes. Like any other movie, Hallmark movies take a lot of work and skilled people for the product to be finished and ready to be aired.

Hallmark releases about 40 Christmas movies per year and typically creating a movie can take up to ten months. The process starts as early as January or February, with writers beginning to create plot points, and “meet cutes” for the characters.

Christine Conradt is a screenwriter, producer, director, and script consultant, thus having worked very closely with Hallmark. Most recently, she was hired to rewrite the script to one of Hallmark’s new movies, “Open by Christmas”. Conradt was a very skilled asset to the creation of this movie, which premiered on the Hallmark Channel on November 12, 2021.

Since Conradt was a writer for “Open by Christmas”, she dealt with a lot of the pre-production work. Hallmark hired her to create a brand new treatment for the movie and so, she was in charge of writing the structure of the story itself, including the summary and the character’s descriptions.

“I did maybe three drafts of the script if I remember correctly, before they were ready to go into production,” said Conradt.

Creating a film is a very collaborative process, with about 40 to 50 crew members working on the film. Unlike writing a book, a writer receives comments from various different people such as producers, executives, and or the head of the network.

“The writer’s job is to take everybody’s ideas, everybody’s criticism, and rework the characters in the story,” says Conradt. “And to make it all work together so that every draft gets better and better.”

One of the benefits that comes with the job of writing for Hallmark is the end product. After all the time and dedication that the writers, producers and actors put into the movie, it is definitely a proud feeling to see their work appreciated by so many people in Northern America.

“There are literally millions of people watching it at the same time. And they’re watching characters that you wrote and you created, and the dialogue you write. You know what’s going to be said next, but they don’t. That part is a lot of fun,” reflects Conradt. “And it still kind of blows my mind, just the sheer numbers of the people that see these movies.”

With all of the work that goes into Hallmark movies, sometimes they are under-appreciated. The purpose of the movies is to highlight the positive moments in life and create a story that successfully pulls at the viewer’s heart strings.

“They definitely serve a purpose. And I think it’s an important purpose, especially during the pandemic,” stated Conradt. “You know, Hallmark will tell you they create movies that you can watch with your eight-year-old kid, or your 80-year-old grandmother, which means they’re for everyone, right?”

Especially in the current world with COVID-19 and the many other pessimisms that surround day to day life, it is always nice to take a break for a couple hours to forget and escape into the world of Hallmark.