[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]
Saturday night on Hallmark Channel, Kimberley Sustad and John Brotherton co-star in Lights, Camera, Christmas! In the holiday romcom, Kerry (Sustad) is a dress shop owner and clothing designer who lands a costume designer gig on a Christmas movie shooting in her hometown and befriends Brad Barton (Brotherton), the movie’s famous and charismatic leading man who has his own designs (sorry/not sorry) on switching up his career.
Laura Soltis, Veronica Long, Matthew Kevin Anderson, Leila Harrison, and Kallie Hu co-star as Kerry’s mom, Nancy; Brad’s co-star Mariah; the film’s producer/directing pair and ex-spouses, Caleb and Jill; and their assistant and mediator, Jamie. David Weaver directs a script by Gary Goldstein, and I caught up with Goldstein this week to talk about the film.
“I think I may have come up with the title of the movie first. I love titles and I often come up with titles out of the blue and then realize I like that title, maybe there’s a story attached to it. Then I realized what we could do with Lights, Camera, Christmas! I don’t think I had ever seen a Christmas film about the making of a Christmas movie, the movie within a movie kind of thing,” he explains.
“Having been to so many of these Q and As with the cast and crew after a screening, they’re really entertaining and they have their own sort of vibe to them. And I thought it’d be fun to transfer that to this movie. The audience asks questions, we flash back to the story within the story and in relatively chronological order, are able to get everybody’s perspective and what really happened during filming. It was a really fun, unique framing device.”
In the film, Kerry and Brad are in fairly set stages of their lives, but meeting each other propels them to explore the paths they haven’t taken. “What’s important in this story and most of the stories you tell, is if you catch people at the moment in their life that they’re ready to change, and somebody comes into their life who is also ready to change, whether they realize it or not, they can help each other change and move forward and then also get together,” Goldstein shares.
“I think there comes a point in everybody’s life, like with the Kerry character, and sometimes it happens sooner, sometimes it happens later, where you’re ready to move on and maybe even ready to move on for a while, but you don’t quite know how. There’s a comfort level to being where you’ve always been and living with the people you’ve always lived with and all of that. Especially when you have parents or family, friends, people you love, it’s very hard to extricate yourself and move away from all of that. And yet, for some people, ultimately it becomes a necessity, to move on with their life.”
“We catch Kerry at the moment where she’s closer to actually making a change in her life than she realizes. And when this completely unexpected thing happens to her, and having that experience and having her horizons broaden so dramatically in such a short time and being honored for it and to succeed at it, it really opens her eyes with the possibilities and the fact that yes, she can do it…giving her the confidence that she needs to really move on and follow her dream, within the world of what she expected, but completely different. And her mother is ready to move on with her life, too. They both need some independence from each other.”
“Brad is somebody who’s been working in the Christmas movie business for a very, very long time and been very successful. And that’s great, but what else do you want to do? Are you happy staying out in one lane or do you want to expand your horizons?”
“And he’s wanted to, but really hasn’t had the confidence and the ability, the wherewithal, the opportunity to work different parts of his acting chops. With the encouragement of Kerry, who comes into his life and realizes that there’s more to him than meets the eye, he’s able to make this change. It comes down to catching people at the right time.”
I always say you can come of age at any age. My first novel, “The Last Birthday Party,” was about a man who turns 50 and completely changes his life the day afterward. I call that a ‘coming of age at any age’ story. And I think it’s a very similar process. You come of age [when] you become ready to make the change. You exercise your independence, your strength, your happiness at various points. And everybody reaches that at a different point in their life. And sometimes people reinvent themselves, too, which is what happens in this movie. I think it’s just a very natural personal timing thing.”
The ensemble aspect of the story was also appealing for Goldstein, especially the story of Caleb and Jill. “I’m always very interested, whether it’s in real life or in writing, what brings people together romantically and what splits them apart. I’m always fascinated by that and I love exploring that. And I think what happens in relationships so often is that the things that bring you together are also the things that split you apart,” he points out.
“With Caleb and Jill, the strength that they had as a filmmaking team became competitive, and the upsides became the downsides for them. They had to go back and remember what it was that made them such a great team, both creatively and romantically. I do love that part of the film because it is definitely a second chance story within the story.”
Goldstein’s foray into writing novels began with a Tweet. “I’ve been a big reader my whole life. I love books and I’m always in the middle of reading one book or another. I’ve always wanted to write a novel, but between screenwriting and TV writing and all the work that I’ve done over the years, there’s just not always the time to really hunker down and write a novel when I’m doing everything else,” he says.
“If I write a screenplay or a TV pilot, or a TV movie on spec, I know what to do with it. I know where to go with it. I have [that] access to get it seen. But [I didn’t with] a book. [I thought], ‘I’m gonna write a book, and then what am I gonna do with it?’”
“I read this thing on Twitter at the end of 2019, a screenwriter that I follow said, if you were a screenwriter and you’ve always wanted to write a novel, but you feel like you don’t have the time, look at it this way–if you wrote one page a day, starting January 1st, by the end of the year, you’d have the first draft of your novel. And no pun intended, [I thought], ‘That’s not such a novel idea.’ But it just spoke to me.”
“I realized I could break this down into the most manageable parts. There was a story that I had wanted to tell, I just didn’t know what the venue would be for this thing. [The idea of what happens] when somebody’s life is turned upside down over the course of 24 hours and how they make their life work even better than ever as a result of it. So I said, ‘I’m gonna do this.’”
“I didn’t really have an outline, but I did know who my main character was gonna be and what was gonna happen to him. And so I just started writing. I wrote a few pages a day. I never missed a day. And by July, I had the first draft of this novel. The upside of that period from a work point of view was that the business had shut down quite a bit [because of the pandemic].”
“I wasn’t in the middle of any particular project at the time. So it was a perfect time to write a book and just explore the process of writing. There’s a learning curve to it, too. For as much as I’ve written, writing a novel was a little bit different. And so it worked out really well.”
“I was ultimately signed to a publisher by the end of that year. At which point my screenwriting work had picked up again, so I had a little less time to write, but I learned so much from writing the first book that I said, ‘I have to amortize this for a second book, immediately.’”
“In January 2021, I started another idea which became “The Mother I Never Had,” which just came out. And that was based on a real tiny seed of an idea that I’ve had with me for years and years, which is the loss of a parent. and what happens if you find yourself, as an adult, with a parent in your life that you never knew? How do you deal with that in life? How do you integrate and manage this? What is your future gonna be like?”
Goldstein explains that the main character in his book loses his father at 30, the same age he was when he lost his mother. “We were very close and it was a real loss for me and my sister. I’d be sitting in my car and I’d see women around my mother’s age crossing the street and [I’d muse], ‘What if she was back?’ I just missed her so much that I always felt she was with me,” he shares.
“I really missed that maternal relationship. I thought], ‘What if there was another mother out there for me?’ It’s just something that I thought about. And then it just faded away as life went on. But I always kept that idea of what if a mother shows up in your life that you never knew was actually your mother at a point where nobody is there to tell you the truth.”
“[In the book, Nate’s] father died and he finds out that he has a mother that was not who he was told was his mother his entire life. So he’s juggling the pain and anger toward his father, who he loves so much, and the suspicion and just general curiosity about this person who says that they’re actually his mother and wants to be in his life, but does he want her in his life after these secrets and lies that have brought her to this moment? It’s a complicated family story. But it was just something that hit me to tell. So I wrote it last year.”
Lights, Camera, Christmas! Premieres Saturday at 8 pm/7c on Hallmark Channel in the United States and W Network in Canada. Here’s a sneak peek. “The Last Birthday Party” and “The Mother I Never Had” are out now.
Photos courtesy of Hallmark Media and Gary Goldstein. Video courtesy of Hallmark Media.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
Maahra Hill Talks The Irrational
I’m a Jesse L. Martin stan back to the OG Mothership Law & Order (pour one out for Lennie Brisco, y’all), although I admittedly tapped out on The Flash at a certain point. This season, Martin has been back in his old NBC stomping grounds with The Irrational, a different,…
George R. Olson, Tim Rozon, and Sarah Levy Talk the SurrealEstate S2 Finale
[Spoilers for the SurrealEstate Season 2 finale.] How’s everyone doing after the finale? As we close out the second season of SurrealEstate, some of our merry band of misfits are scattering to the winds–Zooey to law school, Phil to the Vatican, and Augie back to his think tank with Rochelle,…
Previewing SurrealEstate Season 2 Finale + Revisiting the Season with George R. Olson
[Warning; General spoilers ahead.] Strap in, SurrealEstate fam, because we’ve arrived at the Season 2 finale, and it’s a doozy. As we saw in the closing moments of last week’s episode, Susan is back. But because we have one more episode left, it’s not as simple as all that, as…
Tyler Hynes Talks Through His Eight-Film Hallmark Holiday Library
Things you realize when you have to re-record your shows on a new DVR – just how many Hallmark movies your people have done. Fan favorite – and one of ours – Tyler Hynes has done eight Christmas movies for Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries since 2018. Alongside…
Spencer Creaghan Talks About Creating SurrealEstate’s Signature Sound
SurrealEstate is winding down its second season, with two episodes left, and just as in Season 1, Spencer Creaghan’s music continues to be a character unto itself. And every week, he shares tidbits with the fans via his s social media channels, something he started to help give them an…
Andrew Walker Talks Christmas Island and the Magical Hallmark Community
[Warning: Spoilers for Christmas Island.] Now that the Screen Actors Guild strike has been resolved, we’re able to resume regularly scheduled programming and interview our favorites and yours. Up first, earlier today, I spoke with Andrew Walker about Christmas Island, which premiered last weekend and encores tonight and through the…
George Olson and Danishka Esterhazy Talk SurrealEstate “I Put a Spell on You”
[Warning: Spoilers for the episode.] Tonight’s fun new SurrealEstate found Luke caught up in an especially bewitching woman, Kay, played by Tara Yelland, Susan trapped in her house, and Zooey learning the ropes. In the next part of my conversation with showrunner George R. Olson and producing director Danishka Esterhazy,…
Danishka Esterhazy Talks SurrealEstate: “The Butler Didn’t”
[Warning: General spoilers for the episode]. Tonight’s new SurrealEstate, “The Butler Didn’t,” follows the team as they investigate the years-earlier mysterious death of a woman whose ghost now reenacts her hanging by dropping over the banister from the second floor to terrify anyone on the landing or at the bottom…
Scott McCord and Elizabeth Saunders Talk the From Season 2 finale
[Warning: Spoilers for the season finale.] How’s everyone doing after that finale? While we wait and wonder and hope for a third season announcement, soon, here’s what Scott McCord and Elizabeth Saunders had to say about their parts of the finale, and where they hope they get to go next….
Scott McCord and Elizabeth Saunders Talk From Season 2 + A Season Finale Preview
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] It all comes down this, #FROMily. As Sunday’s episode wraps up Season 2, we begin with the aftermath of the terrifying onset of seemingly simultaneous attacks on Julie, Marielle, and Randall, which accelerate the “We gotta get out of this place” of it all. Sara comes…
What They Said: Three Revealing Conversations from Survivor’s Remorse “Closure”
WARNING: Spoilers for Survivor’s Remorse “Closure” The latest episode of Starz’s Survivor’s Remorse featured conversations that showed characters really digging deep into their thoughts, emotions and motivations.
Two Takes: The Catch “The Knock-Off”
Who can you trust? If this episode of The Catch was any indication, the answer is just about nobody. Betrayal was running rampant as Felicity (Shivani Ghai) arose from the dead to seduce-con Margot, Gretchen (Maria Thayer, Gotham, The Mindy Project) played gold-hearted Alice 2.0 before swindling Ethan, Tessa jumped…
What They Said: Top 3 Quotable Moments from Preacher “El Valero”
Both Quincannon and Jesse refuse to give up on what they each think is rightfully theirs. While Jesse is struggling to face the consequences of his actions, Quincannon has laid his past demons to rest and is hellbent on moving forward and putting Annville on the map again. Despite a…
What They Said: Favorite Quotes from Supergirl “Worlds Finest”
Oh, Supergirl. That ending was cold. But I can’t hate on you because the latest episode has quickly become one of my favorites.
What They Said: Top 4 Quotable Moments from Black Sails “XXIII”
The dialogue in “XXIII” is phenomenal. It’s always a fun ride when Black Sails carries its viewers along without giving them the chance to catch their breath. When an episode moves at this unforgiving pace, there is no chance for a breather nor is there a respite from the information…
What Lucifer Said: Favorite quotes from Supernatural “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”
Supernatural episodes are almost always funny but thanks to the dialogue and a certain man speaking said dialogue, I laughed a lot during “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” You know, when I wasn’t busy fearing for Sam’s life or wondering what in the world was going on with Dean and…
What They Said: The Flash, “Legends Of Today” and Arrow, “Legends Of Yesterday”
Two nights of Arrow +Â The Flash = what more could we ask for?! I don’t know what it is about blending these shows, but I canâ€™t help but feel that every time they come together, they somehow become greater than the sum of their parts. And thatâ€™s saying a lot…
What they Said: Top 4 Quotable Moments from Graceland “Little Bo Bleep”
Shoot outs. Fake outs. And long-awaited revelations. “Little Bo Bleep” was a jam-packed episode that wrapped up some loose ends and totally frayed others. Â It finally gave us one Sarkissian in jail and pulled back the curtain on Briggs’ master plan, but it also set up Jakes for a world…
What They Said: Favorite Quotes from Poldark “Part 4”
â€œWhat have I told you, I don’t require my wife to crochet and sip tea, but I do require her to remember she’s not a beast of burden.â€ No, Iâ€™m not talking about The Rolling Stones! I have to admit though, just for a second, the lyrics popped into my…
3 Moments of Goodness from Brooklyn Nine-Nine “Johnny and Dora”
The most satisfying part of this season’s finale has to the Jake and Amy kiss. Well, they kiss three times but the last one is the best one — and it means something. The Charles and Rosa dynamic was also great. I love how she’s convinced he doesn’t know anything…