Madison native’s Hallmark movie begins countdown to Christmas, November 26


MADISON – It takes a lot of work to produce a wellness vacation romantic comedy for Hallmark Channel.

At 45, filmmaker Matthew Brady had a lot of homework to do on his latest project. As executive producer of the upcoming Hallmark movie, “An Unexpected Christmas,” Brady watched about 30 hours of Hallmark movies to learn the format.

Part of Hallmark’s Countdown to Christmas, “An Unexpected Christmas,” airs Friday, November 26 at 8 p.m. on the Hallmark Channel.

Unsurprisingly, Brady can’t wait to see the finished movie on TV. “Oh yeah, Friday should be fun !!!” he said in a text.

The film stars Bethany Joy Lenz, who played Haley James Scott in “One Tree Hill” and is currently involved in the iHeartRadio podcast “Drama Queens”, and Tyler Hynes, who has starred in other Hallmark films such as “Roadhouse Romance” and “Sweet Caroline.

Hynes portrays Jamie, who returns home for Christmas without telling his family that he and his girlfriend Emily (Lenz) have broken up, according to Hallmark. Emily also arrives in town on a business trip, and the two reconnect when Jamie offers her a deal: he helps her with her work project while she masquerades as his girlfriend on vacation.

Brady said this film differs from most other Hallmark productions in that it is more from Jamie (Hynes) ‘s point of view, as Emily (Lenz) is at home with her family. Most Hallmark films are made from a female perspective.

“It’s something we don’t see a lot at Hallmark and we’re excited to try something new,” said the Madison native.

“I actually found the project, took it to Hallmark and developed it for three years,” he said. “It took a long time.”

Additionally, Brady was proud to include a lesbian couple in this movie.

“We have a little love affair with the sister in the lead role and she has a girlfriend,” he said. “Hallmark strives to be inclusive so we were very excited to develop a little gay subplot in this one.”

Her mother, Eloise Brady, spoke about how she has seen Hallmark change over the years.

“It’s so exciting because you can see how Hallmark has grown over the years and they are so inclusive now and make you feel great,” said the Old Lyme resident.

Brady spoke about what he loved most about working on this movie.

“I love the idea of ​​doing a romantic comedy,” he said. “These are the movies I love: ‘My Best Friend’s Wedding’ and ‘Love Actually’.”

“’Love Actually’ is a wonderful example of incredible Christmas romance,” he said. “It stands the test of time and that was really my goal – to do something wonderful, but one that could also be shown year after year.”

As a Hallmark fan, Eloise Brady is thrilled that her son is working on this film.

“I just think it’s fantastic,” she said. “He’s been involved in so many different companies with his professional life and it’s so much fun.”

She added that during COVID, she and her husband, Michael, indulged in the Hallmark films.

“We had to watch one a night,” she said with a laugh. “Well, maybe not that many, but we’ve watched a lot of them and we’ve already started watching them this year.”

Although she doesn’t have a favorite Hallmark movie, she has stated that “An Unexpected Christmas” will be very special to watch on her debut.

For this film, Brady worked with Front Street Pictures, based in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Working on this project was a change from what he usually works on through his company, MRB Productions, Inc.

Since its inception in 2001, MRB Productions, Inc. has produced the ESPY Awards for ESPN at Marvel’s Hero Project for Disney +. Brady’s work has spanned genres and digital platforms.

He compared “An Unexpected Christmas” to his 2020 documentary, “Escape from Extinction,” which focuses on the work of zoos and aquariums working to save animals around the world.

“It was a lot more creative,” he said.

“Doing comedy is very different,” he added. “It’s all about the timing and if you mess up the timing for even a beat or half a second you lose the whole joke and it was really important to us that we had the right comedy.”

Then it came down to shooting the movie and working quickly in post-production, Brady said.

“It just got faster and faster and we got the green light this year and we got there,” said 1995 graduate Daniel Hand.

Shooting the winter movie in British Columbia in the summer, Matthew Brady remembers how hot it was during the 15 days of filming.

“The Pacific Northwest experienced this incredible heat wave,” he said. “It was pretty hot and then we have to film all the actors in their winter jackets and scarves and hats and of course there is a lot of snow in the film as well. Sometimes it was 90 degrees.

Then it was back to Los Angeles for post-production.

“They get things done really fast at Hallmark,” he said. “It’s really exciting, I’ve never really made a movie like this. They shoot them very quickly; they edit them very quickly.

“So we actually finished filming in September and we’re airing on November 26,” he added. “Most movies take three or four months to prepare, then about a month to shoot, then three or four months to post and it’s truncated.”

“It’s amazing,” he said. “They have this formula that really works there and it was fun to plug into it.”

Brady spoke about preparing for production on the film and watching some 30 Hallmark films with boyfriend and daughters Javier, 9, and Bryce, 6.

“It was just the perfect programming for the kids and for us to watch together,” he said. “I didn’t know what to expect and they were really cute movies, but also my kids really liked them and it’s really something you can do with the whole family.”

Brady is very excited about his latest project.

“It’s really cute the way it turned out,” he said. “The actors just took it out of the park and it looks like a really well put together project.”

“It was the most fun job I have ever had in a job because I did so much that I felt like a real triumph when we were done,” he added. .

“An Unexpected Christmas” will air Friday, November 26 at 8 p.m. on the Hallmark Channel.

Contact Sarah Page Kyrcz at [email protected]

Nicole Funaro contributed to this story.