There's a reason why you don't see many snow scenes.
Nothing quite says ‘tis the season like your DVR filling up with all of your favorite Hallmark Christmas movies. This year, the channel will air 33 original Christmas movies with titles like My Christmas Love, Enchanted Christmas, and The Sweetest Christmas starring Mean Girls’ Lacey Chabert as a struggling pastry chef who gets her big break in a gingerbread competition and may find love and a little Christmas magic along the way. Hallmark started airing their Christmas line-up on October 28 and they will run through Christmas to give families plenty of holiday movie night fodder between now and then.
Two recent stories, one in the Wall Street Journal and the other in Business Insider, take fans behind the scenes of their favorite holiday films and it turns out there’s a lot of method behind that tinsel-and-snowflake-fueled movie madness. For starters, the movie sets are run like a “boot camp” according to Chabert, who has starred in several of Hallmark’s Christmas movies. “It’s intense— It’s hard to make a movie in 15 days,” she told Business Insider, adding. “They know what they are doing.” That mentality means your favorite Hallmark film may have been made just a month before it airs. While that sounds like an incredibly tight deadline, Hallmark director Ron Oliver told Business Insider that he always remind people that “they shot Casablanca in 18 days.”
To make their movies in a timely manner, the filmmakers work efficiently, getting the Christmas movie down to a science.
Like most of us around the holidays, per the Wall Street Journal, the filmmakers have a Christmas checklist to get through to make sure the films stay, well, Christmassy. To do that, their movies have to include scenes featuring classic Christmas activities like wrapping presents, picking out a Christmas tree, or baking Christmas cookies. One holiday activity the movies can’t include, though, is anything involving too much snow. The movies are made on a strict budget of around $2 million, which sounds like a lot, but in Hollywood terms is about the cost of a single television episode.
According to Business Insider, snow is out of the question, because at around $50,000 a pop, it simply costs too much to make. The producers are willing to shell out for some snow, of course, because for many of us, snow is integral to the holidays, but not too much snow. Why is snow so costly? Because in another cost-saving measure, many of the movies are filmed in Vancouver in August when there’s no natural snow lying around. Instead, production crews bring in ice and add as much white to the set as they can to make the film look wintery, despite the August heat.
There’s a funny side effect of so many of their films being made in Vancouver, though—they are running out of picturesque towns to film in! “Every movie wants that small, cute town and there's only so many small, cute towns within driving distance of the film zone," Jamie Lake, production manager for Front Street Pictures, told the Wall Street Journal. Perhaps they should consider filming in the South, instead. If Steel Magnolias could make Natchitoches look wintery in August, so can Hallmark.