How a springtime shoot in Nevada set the scene for a St. John's director's Christmas movie


While some may have reservations about celebrating Christmas on Nov. 2, it's the day Deanne Foley will get to see her labour of love come to life on the screen.

Christmas Reservations — a movie she directed starring Melissa Joan Hart, Michael Gross and Ted McGinley — is debuting Saturday on the Lifetime channel in the U.S.

The St. John's director spent two months in the Nevada mountains last spring, shooting the latest in a long and famous series of Lifetime holiday movies.

"It came out of left field," she said of the opportunity. "

It was totally out of the box and fun for these Christmas movies."

Foley had just celebrated the debut of her film An Audience of Chairs — a serious look at mental illness — when she was interviewed about potentially directing a Christmas movie.

Deanne Foley/Twitter
Deanne Foley/Twitter

Five days later, she was offered the job.

Filming began in April, with warm weather taking a toll on the natural snow the production had wanted for a natural winter feel.

"The snow was melting really fast," Foley said. "There was a lot of panic about losing the snow. The production team were literally shovelling snow and bringing it in from various places."

'We just had a lot of fun'

Snow problems aside, Foley said the process was a joy. The cast consisted of experienced actors like McGinley and Hart, as well as a complement of new actors looking to learn and improve.

"These actors want to work," she said. "I found all of them wanted to elevate the material, and just really were engaged and happy to be there. Honestly, we just had a lot of fun."

Lifetime Christmas movies are in the same category as Hallmark — they follow a format, and there's not a whole lot of surprises.

Foley said the love interests are clearly identifiable within the first five minutes, but the story evolves with the interactions between characters.

"With a Christmas movie, you know what you're getting," she said. "Everyone understands the tone. Nobody was coming in [saying], 'We're going to reinvent the wheel.'"

While the movie debuts Saturday in the United States, a Canadian release date has not yet been announced.

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