Calgary director debuts new Hallmark Christmas film made during pandemic

·3 min read

Every year, a new crop of Hallmark Christmas movies comes out, and this year one of them will be by a Calgary director.

David Winning says his new movie, Time for Us to Come Home for Christmas, airing Dec.12, was made during the pandemic.

"The whole film business just kind of started rolling again in July and August, but we're we're happy to be back and obviously there's all sorts of incredible safety protocols underway," he told the Calgary Eyeopener.

"But we need escapist entertainment more now than ever."

Winning's film has an interesting history. The director says it's actually based on the Blake Shelton song, Time for Me To Come Home, which was later turned into a Christmas book by Shelton's mother.

"Hallmark got a hold of them and I directed the first movie, Time for Me To Come Home, in 2018. And then they've done one every year."

Hallmark Channel & Crown Media
Hallmark Channel & Crown Media

He says the theme of the films follows someone coming home for the holidays during a time that they're dealing with grief. They then find a way to overcome that feeling so they can celebrate Christmas.

Winning says that even though there are COVID-19 protocols behind the scenes, the Christmas film will not allude to the pandemic.

"The whole point of these movies is supposed to kind of take people away for 90 minutes and to have a good time. There's a lot of security in a good Hallmark movie, and whatever the season, you always know that things are going to work out," he said.

"And as simple as it sounds, I think that's what people need."

However, some of the COVID-19 protocols have changed one crucial Christmas movie scene: kissing.

"The kisses are shorter," said the director. "Now they have a kind of an antiseptic mouthwash that the actors take just before they kiss you, which is a little anti-romantic."

"But I mean, I think it's great that we're able to get back out and trying to make movies to cheer people up at Christmas."

Winning already has a lot of experience directing films, and says his newest one will be his 17th Hallmark movie in the past five years.

Given his Calgary roots, he says he hopes to eventually direct a Hallmark movie in the Alberta city at some point in time.

"I'm always trying to find places to shoot that are different because, you know, there's 85 million people that watch these movies on the Hallmark Channel and all of those fans are very specific and picky," he said.

"They have a very critical eye for where we are, but we're trying to give them some new places to see every year."

"Time for Us to Come Home for Christmas will debut in Canada on the W Network on Dec.12.

Have you already started watching Christmas movies this year? Tell us your favourite in the comments below or tweet us at the @CBCEyeopener.

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.