The Smithers Merchants put on Christmas in the Valley in late November, 2018. Stores were open late, sleigh rides went down Main Street and Santa Claus made an appearance. (Marisca Bakker photo)

COLUMN: Light holiday movies, filmed here in B.C.

How is it possible to come up with so many holiday-themed movie scripts each year?

Now that the downtown lights and holiday displays are in place and the tree is set up, it’s time to continue the festive spirit with an assortment of seasonal movies.

Each year, movie studios produce plenty of light-hearted movies with holiday themes, designed to help set the mood for the season.

And many of these movies are filmed here in British Columbia, helping to showcase our province to the world.

There’s no shortage of holiday movies, especially movies made for television. Hallmark alone produces more than 30 holiday-themed movies each year, and there are other studios producing their own films each year.

READ ALSO: Okanagan a hot spot for film industry

READ ALSO: Okanagan film industry brings in $32 million

How is it possible to come up with this many holiday-themed movie scripts each year?

If the task involved creating new, unique scripts, it would be difficult if not impossible. But many of the seasonal made-for-television movies follow one of two story lines.

In one story, a woman must choose between the successful man she is dating and a newcomer with a heart of gold who shows up just in time for the holiday season.

(As a variation on this theme, instead of meeting a newcomer, she reconnects with her long-lost childhood sweetheart and a rekindled romance is reborn.)

In the other story, the woman must win the heart of her true love, while a longtime bitter rival also has designs on the same man.

READ ALSO: It’s Christmas in July on many B.C. movie sets as Hallmark boosts production

There’s a lot of room for variation within these two story lines.

Perhaps the heroine runs a small bakery, specializing in cupcakes. Maybe she’s a fashion designer who also a small boutique. She might be a freelance photographer or writer, or a blogger with millions of followers.

Whatever she does, it will be a dream job. She won’t be a mechanic, an accountant, a janitor or the successful owner-operator of a septic tank cleaning service.

Her love interest could be a doctor, a teacher, a ski instructor, a software designer or an artist. He won’t be a bus driver, a welder or the regional vice-president of sales for a chain of big box stores.

Perhaps he also volunteers his time as a Big Brother, a youth worker or even the coordinator of the local toy drive.

The story must be set in a small town, or it must end up there.

It might include a subplot where a community works to save a small local business or prevent a huge corporate conglomerate from setting up in the town.

In other words, the stories show perfect people falling in love in idyllic small towns.

Because these movies are set during the festive season, they need to include several holiday-themed scenes.

These could include picking out a tree, decorating the tree, having a snowball fight, making a snowman or a snow angel, shopping at a toy store, skating at an outdoor rink, baking cookies or sitting together in front of the fireplace.

And sometimes, for an added bonus, some of the characters will have Christmas-themed names like Chris, Rudolf, Holly or Ivy, or perhaps last names like Snow or Winter or Frost.

And of course there’s snow for Christmas.

In the end, the happy couple finds love and the small town keeps its spirit of the holiday season. Everything is picture-perfect.

And many of these heart-warming stories are filmed here in British Columbia — even if our scenery is used as a stand-in for rural Washington, a resort in the New England states or a small town in the Midwest.

Identifying the filming locations can be as much a part of the holiday season as sipping eggnog while the snow gently falls outside.

As for the light-hearted and cheesy story lines, well, there’s nothing wrong with some pleasant holiday entertainment during this time of the year.

John Arendt is the editor of the Summerland Review.

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