What Makes The Perfect Hallmark Christmas Movie, According To Writer

 Hallmark holiday logo.
Hallmark holiday logo.

It’s nearly the most wonderful time of the year, as people are already starting to prepare for the festive season. And part of that involves them watching their favorite yuletide movies while drinking hot chocolate. The Christmas movie lineup for this year is massive, and Hallmark is definitely bringing it. Kicking off with the annual Countdown to Christmas event, the network's schedule is filled with festive flicks and holiday favorites. Amid the excitement over that, Samantha Herman, who wrote one of the productions viewers will see this year, got candid about what makes the perfect Christmas movie for the channel.

Samantha Herman is no stranger to Hallmark and its Christmas lineup. Ironically, the writer has written eight total holiday movies for the company. With that in mind, she has an idea of how to bring the magic of the holiday from script to screen. Herman, whose most recent feature is Christmas Island, spoke to ET and provided some keen details regarding the process of making one of the network's signature, cheesy Xmas flicks, and there's certainly a science at play here:

I think you have to have a great meet cute. It doesn't matter if they're former friends, former lovers, already know each other, or a new meetup, but that moment has to hit. You have to have the leads clash, and then come together, and pull apart, just to keep that momentum going and keep that tension going, instead of having it just all be smooth. I think that's important. You have to have a couple fraught moments of chemistry -- chaste chemistry -- but still keep that tension going. I love to have a midway kiss if they'll allow it.

Those are tropes and story beats that are prevalent countless Hallmark movies and, while that's the case, it seems to be effective more often than not. What Samantha Herman is describing here is essentially a formula and, in all honesty, those can get stale in some cases. So it's truly amazing that this media company has managed to make it work for so long.

Of course, aside from the fluff, there actually has to be some substance present within a story, and it needs to be grounded to a degree. The Mingle All The Way writer went on to describe another element of her creative approach that she finds very important -- realism. She aims to make the stories feel as tangible as possible and, as she laid out, that provides several key benefits story-wise:

[I try to] just make that situation a little bit more realistic, a little bit more dynamic. I've been guilty of going back to the well of the misunderstanding, or the overhear and misinterpretation, and we're just trying to diversify that and make that more exciting. And just make the leads themselves more realistic, less cookie cutter, more quirks, more flaws, just more grounded, real people with more interesting backstories.

So with all of that in mind, fans should look forward to seeing those storytelling sensibilities in Christmas Island. Starring Rachel Skarsten and Andrew Walker, the film sees a pilot’s private flight to Switzerland getting upended, causing those aboard to end up on the eponymous locale during a snowstorm. Desperate to land the full-time gig as the pilot of the family she's carrying, she joins forces with an air traffic controller in an attempt to make it happen.

Of course, there are many more films heading to Hallmark in the coming weeks that will get viewers into the holiday spirit. The network has a whopping 40 films on its 2023 Christmas movie slate, so fans will be well fed. Additionally, Lacey Chabert has begun promoting her own films now that the SAG-AFTRA strike is over, and it wouldn’t be surprising if fellow stars followed suit.

Now, that Samantha Herman has offered us a peek behind the curtain regarding the making of the movies, viewers may want to play closer to the elements she mentioned. I know I will be. You can check out Christmas Island when it premieres tonight, November 11, on Hallmark Channel at 8 p.m. ET as part of the network’s Countdown to Christmas slate.