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Nikki DeLoach Talks Love to the Rescue

Love to the Rescue

Nikki DeLoach joined the Hallmark family in 2015 and here at TV Goodness, we’ve regularly covered her films and talked with her tribe of co-stars (Lisa Durupt, Andrew Walker, and Luke Macfarlane), so it only seemed fair to finally chat with her, too. Saturday night DeLoach returns to Hallmark Channel for the premiere of Love to the Rescue, a really sweet, kind story about two single parents, animation creative director Kate (DeLoach) and department of transportation planner Eric (Michael Rady), whose children fall in love with the same dog, Bruce, at their school’s adoption event.

Put in an awkward spot made even moreso when Eric ropes Kate into helping with the spring carnival, they agree to time-share Bruce for a month to see who gets to keep him. Over that month, they become friends who bolster each other’s professional ambitions and discover that Bruce isn’t the only one whose life can be changed by an open heart.

Love to the Rescue

I spoke to DeLoach this week about the new project, and next month’s Hallmark Hall of Fame, Love Takes Flight, which she’s filming now in Savannah, Georgia–where Love to the Rescue was also filmed. We’ll have more on that ahead of the movie’s premiere in April. In the first part of our chat, we talk about Love to the Rescue, working for Hallmark, and producing her own projects.

DeLoach’s first Hallmark Channel movie was 2015’s Christmas Land, and it opened the door to new opportunities and a new perspective from her fandom. “My first movie was just an offer and I’d never had the opportunity to work with them before. It was in Utah, and it was such an incredible experience,” she recalls. “Hallmark took care of me in so many beautiful ways. My family got to come with me. The next year they came around again and I had another great experience.”

She says she saw the Hallmark effect first hand when Christmas Land premiered on Christmas Eve. “I remember being in my church in my hometown of Blackshear. The pastor got up, and everybody in my hometown are really big fans of Hallmark,” she says. “I remember [him] saying, ‘We’ve got to get out of here early because the movie’s going to be on.’ And everybody went home and watched it.”

“I thought it was really cool to be part of content that an entire family can sit down and can watch and it makes them happy. This was really special. You can turn it on and don’t have to worry about the content. Everyone of all ages can watch it.”

“Aside from my own positive experience, there was this beautiful feedback I was getting from people in my life. I’ve been in this business 30 years and it was like nothing in my life had mattered before that.”

“I’ve [worked] long enough to know you don’t get treated like this at every network. I can call up [the Hallmark executive team] and talk with them. It is a family and they take care of you like you’re a part of their family. That’s not the norm.”

“It meant a lot to me and to my family, how kind and supporting and loving they’ve been. I really appreciate it. I value it. I love working with them and being part of the Hallmark family.”

Love to the Rescue marks the third time DeLoach has worked with director Steven R. Monroe, who directed The Perfect Catch and Reunited at Christmas, which DeLoach produced. He’s also directing Love Takes Flight. DeLoach says at this point they’re a package deal whenever possible. “Steven and I love working together. There’s definitely a shorthand. Even today, he was asking me [to make a change] and I already knew [what he wanted],” she explains.

“When I first worked with him on The Perfect Catch, I was early on in my pregnancy and we were doing a spring baseball movie where we had to be outside on the diamond for a substantial percentage of the movie. It rained, sleeted, snowed, and hailed every day of filming except the Saturday we had off,” she laughs.

“He kept his cool, and we made our day and he got the shot and he figured it out. I had never worked with a director who was under so much pressure and who stayed kind and got the job done and delivered a movie and you can’t even tell it was raining.”

“I knew when it came time for my movie I was producing, I wanted the guy who’s going to be kind to people [when] our backs are up against the wall. He’s just a good human being and a great husband and a great father. Our families are very similar. I’m obsessed with his wife. Now we’re like, ‘Can we work on all the movies together?’”

DeLoach was thrilled to develop and produce Reunited at Christmas,and says it’s something she’s been driving toward since the beginning of her career. “I love producing. From day one, it was not just acting for me. It was about storytelling and being a part of the whole process. I love taking the seed of an idea and building something around that,” she shares.

“I took time off after the first season of Awkward and worked as a creative exec at a production company, It’s one of those things that I’m striving and moving toward. Making a movie is just figuring things out.”

“There were days on Reunited at Christmas where we would get to set and the snow machine would break down, and we’d have to [fill the time] until we had snow or a prop was ready. That’s what life is. Not everything is going to go your way. You have to figure it out and look at your options. You make it work. Nobody wants to hear excuses. They just want solutions.”

Love to the Rescue

Love to the Rescue tested the old adage about working with kids and animals, and DeLoach says the kids—newcomers Michaela Russell, who plays Kate’s daughter, Sophia, and Max Ivutin, who plays Eric’s son, Owen, were awesome, but the dog, Zip, need a little time to get used to working on camera. “The kids were on point. They knew not just their lines but everybody’s lines,” she says.

“We had a dog who didn’t do any of the things in the script that he was supposed to do. He was the cutest dog on the planet, and I was like, ‘This is going to be great!’ and he didn’t want to sit on camera.”

“It was really tough to figure out how [we were] going to do a movie where 2/3 of it is a dog and he doesn’t want to work on camera. At the end of the day, he was the perfect dog for the movie. In my opinion, it’s the equivalent of when you rescue a dog. That’s what the movie is about.”

Love to the Rescue

“It’s about using your love to rescue an animal or another human from their pain. You don’t give them back because they don’t do the things you want them to do and they’re not perfect. You lean into it. That’s where you need more love and more support. By the end of the movie, he was really getting it. He would sit and fetch and play sad. He was in there and he was getting it done.”

Sarah Montana wrote the film, and has a role as one of the animators who works for DeLoach’s Kate. DeLoach loved the script, and as she learned more about Montana, she loved her, too. “I’m going to brag on our Sarah. She’s gone through some really tough things in her life. She lost her mother and brother when she was 21 at the hand of a person that knew them,” she explains.

“She does this incredible, beautiful TED talk on the subject of forgiveness. She dives deep into the science of forgiveness and what we think it is [vs. what it actually is]. I’ve sent it to so many people because its genius is remarkable and so moving. Everyone needs to make time to see it. She’s a star and a brilliant writer and now she’s a really dear friend.”

“I’m so fortunate to know her and we’re so lucky to have her as a writer. I read these movies all the time and [when] I read her script, I didn’t have any notes. I didn’t know [who she was] and then I met her and [learned her story] and watched her TED talk, and I said, ‘I’m never letting you go.’”

“[This movie] was such a love affair. I got to work with Ashley Squires, [a producer] at Hallmark who’s one of my favorites. Michael Rady was such a revelation as an actor and human being. I really loved working with him. It’s one of my favorite times on a set.”

Love to the Rescue

Love to the Rescue premieres Saturday at 8 pm/7c on Hallmark Channel. DeLoach plans to live Tweet during the film. You can also find her on Facebook and Instagram, and through her lifestyle blog, What We Are. Here are a couple of sneak peeks of Love to the Rescue. Check back in April for the second part of our interview!

Photos and Video Courtesy of Crown Media.

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