It's been a rough year, folks. When all movie and TV productions had to shut down back in March, it was pretty easy to imagine that we wouldn't be getting new versions of any filmed entertainment at all this year. One beloved TV tradition that was also impacted heavily was all of the Hallmark Christmas movies which go into production every year, but, luckily, the network was able to ramp things up again in time for dozens of potential new favorites to hit our screens by late October. Now, we're hearing about all the changes Hallmark made while filming during COVID-19.
The Hallmark Channel is known for nothing if not its seasonally themed made for TV movies, and at the apex of that are its yearly Countdown to Christmas (Hallmark Channel proper) and Miracles of Christmas (Hallmark Movies & Mysteries) movie slates, which take us into the next year with new holiday romps. Obviously, filming this year was a challenge, and Michelle Vicary, Hallmark parent company Crown Media's executive vice president of programming, spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about the changes to filming that were necessary. And, some things will be pretty familiar to all of us:
There's fewer crowd scenes. There's fewer people at the Christmas tree lighting. You can see that in some locations people are further apart. And, so they just got really smart about how to make it look like a regular Hallmark Christmas, not a COVID Christmas.
Ahhh, a regular Hallmark Christmas (only now with more LGBTQ and brown people!)...isn't that the only thing we all want from our entertainment this year? While it's very important to keep everyone on set safe as they film, and we've heard some of Hallmark's stars talk about quarantining in preparation for going back to work, that also translates to how scenes are handled during actual filming. Michelle Vicary and everyone else at Hallmark could have had actors wearing masks on screen, but that wouldn't really have offered up the pure romantic escapism that fans look forward to.
As Vicary said in her interview, this meant that they had to take steps to keep people apart as much as possible even while on camera, so scenes like the one in the photo above will be populated with fewer folks than in years before, and take place less frequently. But, if you've been watching Hallmark's films this season, you'll know that none of these protective efforts have dampened the romance or joyful holiday feeling.
Vicary also mentioned the famed "Hallmark kiss," and when asked how that was handled in the movies this year, noted that some of the methods which have been used by other productions (kissing through plexiglass, using the real life partners of actors, or even having them make out with mannequins), were also right up Hallmark's alley this time around:
We've done all of that. And we have had a couple of movies where they didn't kiss. We just know that they have found their love partner and it's a happy Hallmark ending. Her head leans on his shoulder and away goes the Christmas carousel.
Well, I've already watched a lot of these films this year, and have yet to come upon one where the leads didn't get their kissy-face on. But, considering that they tend to only kiss once in any given movie, it's not a huge hardship to not have that moment at all, especially in service of keeping people safe. So, give us those heartwarming head-on-shoulder moments if you need to; we'll take them!
Hallmark is rolling out new movies every week through December 20, but you can also catch around the clock repeats of some of the network's most popular previous holiday movies as well, so be sure to check listings for times. If you'd like some other viewing options, be sure to check out our guide to fall TV and see what's coming up in early 2021!