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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Bourbon

Writing A TV Christmas Movie?


PHOTO- Hallmark, CHRISTMAS IN LOVE


Happy June! I'm writing this post because it keeps coming up in writing groups that I am in with writers-if you are writing a TV holiday movie, you are writing a ROMANCE, not a rom-com--well, most likely.


Let's clarify the distinction between a 'rom-com' and a TV holiday movie. The latter, especially those for Hallmark and GAC, are primarily driven by romance, not comedy.


Romantic Comedy is a subgenre of COMEDY, not romance.

This means it is a COMEDY FIRST, and then a ROMACE.


Hallmark movies (and the like) are ROMANCE first and then comedy.

I was in a workshop with STORY SUMMIT that was dedicated to writing TV holiday movies, and a big-time producer from Hallmark explained that TV holiday movies are 90-99% ROMANCE and only 10% comedy, if any.


The reason I'm bringing this up again is so you are pitching your film correctly. I literally just heard two writers call their TV holiday movies, rom-coms.


HERE ARE SOME PRO TIPS if you are writing for Hallmark/GAC/Lifetime/UpTV etc.

  1. WATCH HEAPS of these movies. Live and breathe them, and read scripts.

  2. STUDY the genre of ROMANCE and understand the difference between romance and rom-coms.

  3. Study the TV holiday movie structure. There are a few great books on the subject as well as courses.

  4. FOLLOW the formula.

  5. Keep up with what the networks are looking for, and understand that it's always changing.


PRO TIPS If you are writing a ROMANTIC COMEDY.

  1. WATCH HEAPS of these movies. (Note: they are not TV holiday movies, though some of them have been rom-coms; LOVE HARD is one example, but the majority are not; see above) WATCH CLASSIC rom-coms, HOW TO LOSE A GUY IN TEN DAYS, GROUNDHOG DAY, BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY, WHEN HARRY MET SALLY, YOU'VE GOT MAIL, THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN, etc.

  2. Read lots of romantic comedy scripts.

  3. Study the craft of writing comedy. I recommend Steve Kaplan's courses and books.

  4. Study romantic comedy.


I hope this clears this up. It's frustrating to see that everything is lumped into rom-coms because it's not correct to say "chick-flicks" anymore because that was a driving genre of films that were made for a specific audience, woman-18-50s, and that's why they were called that.


It's not cool to say that so everything that is romance is now called rom-coms, even by executives, but those reading your scripts will know the difference and look for COMEDY if you label it that.


Also, just know that some networks like Hallmark (currently 2024) are looking for heavy on the ROMANCE, so if you label it a comedy, it might not get read.


Please do your homework and understand the genre you are writing.


Happy writing and watching movies!!!

Here is a list of some of my favorite TV Holiday movies that are not rom-coms.

CHRISTMAS IN LOVE

A GODWINK CHRISTMAS

CHRISTMAS TOWN

THE SWEETEST CHRISTMAS

A CHRISTMAS PRINCE (series)

A NOT SO ROYAL CHRISTMAS


Here is a list of some of my favorite rom-coms

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING

GROUNDHOG DAY

HOW TO LOSE A GUY IN TEN DAYS

LEGALLY BLONDE

YOU'VE GOT MAIL

WHEN HARRY MET SALLY

BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY

ABOUT A BOY

THE HOLIDAY

LOVE ACTUALLY


XO Stephanie








Stephanie Bourbon is a writer and story consultant. Find her on social @stephobourbon

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