Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Town That Christmas Forgot

 Here's one of my Hallmark movies, just in time for Christmas. It's showing from today till Sat 11/14. I thought maybe some of you would like to know how I wrote it.

Many writers make up stories but I find that my stories, which come from real life, are far more entertaining. Once again, the script was made up from real-life. A lot of people said I should write a spec screenplay for Christmas as there's always a good market for Christmas movies. It took a few days to come up with something from my real life and came out in three separate parts.

The story is about a rich family who get trapped in a small town in the mountains when their expensive car broke down and they had to stay overnight as the vital car part had to be brought it. They were stuck.
1. So... the idea of a car breaking down came from a trip I made with my ex-partner and her three kids. We were driving from Eugene, Oregon back to Canada after Christmas holidays with her parents. Somewhere near a town called The Dalles her Ford Maverick suddenly ripped through the car hood.

I couldn't remember how we were rescued but a tow truck came along and took us to a small town where we realized we had to stay overnight so the garage mechanic would fix it. This meant overnight and the tow truck driver was extra friendly, telling us where to stay, where to eat, etc.  My partner's daughter was in a frenzy as she realized she'd be late for New Years while the boys just hung out. Next day it was fixed and we drove on.

2. The next part was the town itself and it came from two sources. First of all, I needed a dying town and this came from a documentary I was filming years ago. My director friend and I stayed in a small coal-mining town that was dying, people moving out, all that.  I also grew up in a small town (539 pop.)3. 

3. And the 3rd part was from my childhood in a very small town where every Christmas we had a big talent show which, in a town of 539 people, had some surprising talent singing, dancing and our finale, the Grade 6'ers would put on a tumbling act.

So this would become the basic idea of the story and I called it Christmas In Nowhere.

That's the whole idea. 

Now I had to change some things;

First, we didn't have an expensive car and we weren't rich but I had to create that family so that they were strangers to the town and they had a different take on it. I also created the townspeople from my own memory of 539 people. Easy.

Secondly, I created several characters who lived in the town and who would interact with our rich people. Then I had to take out one of the real kids and my ex, because three would be too many. So I settled on the 12-yr old girl and 10-yr old boy.

And of course, an old man who looked like Santa and was angry at the town mayor. 

Then I needed more conflict so I decided to copy those talent shows from my home town. But I needed one more thing.

The town mayor said they can't have a Christmas show. But his wife is set on having one.

And that's where the rest of the outsider family enters. 

The wife is on the mayor's wife side.
The husband helps the mechanic.
The daughter finds a nice looking 13-yr old boy.
And the 10-yr old boy discovers that the old Santa and mayor had a bad past.

And so the out-of-town family, because they're more objective, help the town to finally end with the big show.

The script hung around for nearly five years until an exec development person read it and it was made. Someone at the network changed the title to The Town Christmas Forgot.

Here's the list of screenings starting today.

The Town Christmas Forgot (4 days) - Thursday 11/5 (8pm)
                                                                      Friday      11/6      (6am)
                                                                      Friday      11/13    (2pm)
                                                                      Saturday  11/14 (8am) * PST times


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