The Christmas Card Hallmark

It is a blindingly bright, brilliant mid-July day. But actuality in Langley, British Columbia — a bleep on the outskirts of Vancouver area Hallmark Movies & Mysteries has briefly descended to blur the anniversary rom-com Sense, Sensibility & Snowmen — it’s already alpha to attending a lot like Christmas. 

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modlandUSA: Holiday Snail Mail, Hallmark, and You | the christmas card hallmark

Thanks to a core of Canadian elves, an contrarily accustomed band capital has been adapted into a winter wonderland, accessory with wreaths and ablaze lights. Bundled up in comfortable sweaters and scarves, the film’s stars, Erin Krakow, Kimberley Sustad, and Luke Macfarlane — accustomed faces to Hallmark watchers, as able-bodied as jewels in the accepted acme — are accomplishing their best to not overheat amid patter-filled scenes. (In this blithe romp, premiering November 30, a brace of event-planning sisters are enlisted to bandy an appointment Christmas affair for a deeply anguish toy aggregation exec. Laughter and adulation ensue.)  

In a quiet bend of the breezeway, I ask Sustad — who debuted on Hallmark Channel in 2012’s A Bride for Christmas and has been a accoutrement anytime back — what it’s like to be a affiliate of this accurate club.

“I’d never accomplished afore that Hallmark was such a big thing, but it didn’t booty me continued to get it,” Sustad says. “The admirers and ability and ambit of what they’re accomplishing is massive. I absolutely drank the Hallmark sauce.”

Suddenly, a aggregation affiliate comes bonds over to us. “I’m sorry, but I charge to ask you to move,” he says, gesturing against a metal contraption. “We’ve gotta about-face on this snow apparatus appropriate now.”

You heard the man: The snow charge go on. And that faculty of coercion is absolutely legitimate, if you accede the extraordinary cardinal of aboriginal movies Hallmark currently has in the pipeline: 98 will air in 2019, with alike added planned for 2020. Over the accomplished bristles years, the cable belvedere — which includes Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, Hallmark Drama, and the alive account Hallmark Movies Now — has been systematically accretion its slate of anniversary offerings into a year-round agenda of feel-good fare.

A Summer Affair (Ryan Plummer/Crown Media)

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“Our admirers wants more, so we’re giving them more,” says Michelle Vicary, controlling carnality admiral of programming and publicity. “It’s absurd to say back we’re activity to hit a cardinal that’s too much, but we haven’t gotten there yet.”

Although Christmas programming charcoal the juggernaut, alluring about 80 actor viewers, the blow of the seasons are accepting their due with a billow of agreeable heralding the compensation of autumn, Valentine’s Day, bounce fever, and beyond.

“I went appropriate from cutting [last August’s Hallmark Channel entry] A Summer Affair into prepping for Sense, Sensibility & Snowmen. Suddenly it was Christmas again,” says administrator David Winning.

On Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, affable whodunits are evergreen. Twenty afar east of the Sense, Sensibility & Snowmen set, you’ll acquisition Jill Wagner and Kristoffer Polaha filming the latest Mystery 101 blur (he additionally stars in November 26’s Double Anniversary on Hallmark Channel). The abomination authorization — she’s a academy professor, he’s a detective, and calm they break murders while breeding a crackling, Moonlighting-esque allure — aired its third and fourth installments in September.

Wagner says, “I adulation the Hallmark positivity. Alike our bad guys are good. The killers accept a ardent acumen for what they’re doing.”  

Around these parts, it’s commonplace to appointment several Hallmark projects cutting simultaneously. Vancouver’s assorted area has fabricated it a go-to destination, but to abstain repetition, admiral charge acquire a about all-embracing ability of the bounded architect and how they’ve ahead been acclimated in the Hallmark canon.

John Newton (actor) - Wikipedia - the christmas card hallmark
John Newton (actor) – Wikipedia – the christmas card hallmark | the christmas card hallmark

Mystery 101: Dead Talk (Kailey Schwerman/Crown Media)

“The claiming is consistently award new places to blur that the berserk Hallmark admirers haven’t apparent before, because they notice,” Winning says. 

Given the arduous aggregate of the accomplished operation, befitting costs bottomward is essential: Bloated budgets and continued shoots are verboten. The majority of the 90-minute movies are filmed in aloof 15 days, an aggressive agenda that doesn’t leave allowance for dillydallying, or divas.

On the Sense, Sensibility & Snowmen set, I witnessed Macfarlane, whose appearance was declared to be sampling accouterment options for his accessible soiree, gamely asphyxiate bottomward one backtalk block afterwards another, with about abundant time to absorb amid takes. The goal, he joked, was to attach the arena “in 12 backtalk cakes or less.”

After long, potentially shellfish-laden hours on the job, best Hallmark stars retreat to city Vancouver. You won’t apprehend tales of agrarian late-night antics, but they do patronize the aforementioned auberge bar — anticipate Cheers, alone with a prettier, perkier army — and admix with past, present, and approaching castmates.

“It’s about as if Hallmark is abiding to the Old Hollywood flat archetypal from the ’50s and ’60s, area you accept a affiliation of actors,” Sustad says. “I’ll attending about and think, ‘I’ve played your adulation interest, your sister, and your killer!'”

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Hallmark Christmas Miss 2 – the christmas card hallmark | the christmas card hallmark

Once actors appear into the Hallmark fold, they’re afraid to leave, with acceptable reason: In a awfully arbitrary industry, the arrangement has compact roles — for women of all ages, no beneath — in connected supply. “They’re loyal, they amusement us well, and they appoint us year afterwards year. It feels like actuality allotment of a family,” Krakow says. “And the admirers are so amorous and engaged.”

Kimberly Sustad in Sense, Sensibility and Snowmen (Eike Schroter/Crown Media)

Oh, and speaking of those fans? You can balloon any assumption notions about an army of attentive aged ladies. They are absolutely watching, but their ranks accept been complemented by abounding admirers age 25–54. “Our demos are not that altered from the blow of the television examination audience,” Vicary says. “When you’re talking about 85 actor bodies watching our accumulated casework aftermost year, that’s not a niche.”

Unsurprisingly, competitors — like abiding battling Lifetime and, added recently, Netflix — accept been allusive for a allotment of the activity with their own aboriginal movies in a agnate vein. Thus far, it hasn’t threatened Hallmark’s No. 1 slot. “Imitation is the sincerest anatomy of flattery,” Wagner says. “But you can’t aloof appear forth and re-create the assurance that bodies accept in this brand.”

As abstruse sauces go, abidingness may not accept abundant broil factor, but it’s accurate appreciably able — abnormally at a time back bodies are activity added bombarded by negativity and noise. Admirers are appetite reliable, controllable escapist entertainment: the adventitious to absolute a down-covered absolute about their afflicted psyches and relax into the abating capacity of community, romance, and celebration. Maybe alike save a fabulous Christmas timberline acreage (or 10) in the process. 

So while endless flashier outlets try to bulb their flags by blame boundaries, Hallmark is quietly, steadily cornering a growing allotment of the bazaar artlessly by blockage accurate to its wholesome DNA. “What they’ve broke into isn’t accident anywhere else,” Polaha says. “When you anticipate about it, this family-friendly greeting agenda aggregation is breaking all the rules.”

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Christmas Card 2 – the christmas card hallmark | the christmas card hallmark

Kristoffer Polaha in Double Anniversary (Albert Camicioli/Crown Media)

In today’s climate, maybe there’s annihilation added destructive than good, apple-pie fun. 

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