Passionflix is premiering an original Christmas movie, Mr. 365, today, December 15, 2018. The streaming service, co-founded by Tosca Musk, Elon Musk’s sister, is already gathering quite a following despite only being around for a couple of years. Mr. 365, a unique story about a man who celebrates Christmas 365 days a year, is Passionflix’s second original Christmas movie and their singular original for 2018. The movie was written by Gary Goldstein, who has written many scripts including Hallmark movies, and based on a novel by Ruth Clampett, a USA Today bestselling author. Goldstein and Clampett talked with Heavy about Mr. 365 before the movie’s release.
Mr. 365 Is About a Man Who Celebrates Christmas 365 Days a Year
Reel One Entertainment produced Mr. 365 in connection with Passionflix. The movie stars Chelsea Hobbs as Sophia and Christopher Russell as Will. If you haven’t heard about Passionflix yet, you’ll likely be hearing more and more about the service in the future. It’s a newer premium romance-on-demand streaming service that offers original movies, including original Christmas movies. It was founded by Tosca Musk, Jina Panebianco, and Joany Kane in 2016.
Here’s part of the synopsis for Mr. 365: “When reality show producer Sophia (Chelsea Hobbs) is assigned to convince Christmas fanatic Will (Christopher Russell) to be on their holiday special, she imagines him to be an oddball Momma’s boy wearing a reindeer Christmas sweater. What she doesn’t expect is the handsome, mysterious man who captures her attention, and seems determined to win her heart. Their attraction is undeniable, and as charming Sophia convinces Will to work with her, she slowly unwraps the mysteries of his past that make this determined and soulful man still yearn for the childhood he never had.”
Clampett Said a Reality Show & Her Love for Christmas Inspired the Book
Ruth Clampett, the author of Mr. 365, is the daughter of legendary animation director Bob Clampett. She’s a USA Today bestselling author and has published nine books. Her books infuse humor, drama, and passion into the romantic lives of strong heroines and heroes and their counterparts. She’s a graduate of Art Center College of Design, and her careers have included graphic design, photography, teaching photography at UCLA, and being Vice President of Design for Warner Bros. Studio Stores.
Clampett told Heavy that it was her love for Christmas and a reality show her daughter watched that inspired the book.
“I’m a self-professed Christmas nut and decorate my house to the nines every year,” she said. “Then one holiday season my daughter, who loves reality TV, started watching a show about Christmas fanatics that made my decorating look low-key. From there I started imagining a behind-the-scenes love story during a reality show.”
Her favorite reality shows, she said, are the ones about houses that are fixed up and then sold.
“So don’t be surprised if I write a story in that world one day!”
Clampett told Heavy that she first got started writing after a friend introduced her to a website where authors were posting one chapter of their book at a time.
“I found the medium very inspiring and became an active author and was posting for a few years when the indie publishing market exploded,” she said. “I had friends who encouraged me to take the leap with them and I’ve never looked back.”
Goldstein Said Writing ‘Mr. 365’ for Passionflix Let Him ‘Push the Envelope’ More than He Could for Other Christmas Movies
Gary Goldstein, who wrote the script for Mr. 365, has written more than a dozen produced telefilms, including comedies like Hitched for the Holidays and The Flower Shop Mystery set of movies. He wrote the feature film Politics of Love, which was released in 2011, and If You Only Knew, starring Johnathon Schaech and Alison Eastwood. He’s sold half-hour comedy pilots to NBC and Warner Bros Television, and has written a string of episodic TV credits. He also has numerous LA stage credits too.
He told Heavy: “Because it’s a subscription service with a decidedly ‘passionate’ bent, there was the freedom to write a film that pushes the envelope more than your typical watch-at-home Christmas movie. That also helped me draw on more of the novel, which is very sexy and fun and authentic, than I might’ve otherwise been able to. I’m not writing anything else yet with the network but would love to; it’s been a really great work experience.”
Goldstein said one of his favorite scenes to write in the movie takes place when Will welcomes the reality crew into his home, which is essentially a Christmas wonderland. Goldstein told Heavy: “Will so hates having to do this until Sophia finds a way
to make him more comfortable for the camera–and he nails it. I was inspired, of course, by the scene from the book, but also just knowing how awkward it can be to be in front of a camera when you’re not prepared for it. The moment also made Will
realize, maybe for the first time, how Sophia had his back, which was an important step for them.”
Chelsea Hobbs & Christopher Russell Had Amazing, Authentic Chemistry in the Movie
The movie stars Chelsea Hobbs as Sophia and Christopher Russell as Will. Chelsea Hobbs has been on series such as UnREAL, Make It or Break It, and Hallmark movies like June in January and The Nine Lives of Christmas. Christopher Russell has also been on UnREAL, and he’s also appeared recently on Van Helsing, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Star Trek: Discovery, and quite a few Christmas movies himself.
Goldstein said the two actors’ chemistry was amazing and authentic. Hobbs plays a reality TV producer who’s shooting a show about Will (played by Russell) who celebrates Christmas 365 days a year. Will is a mystery man in the movie who’s wary, while Hobbs’ character is driven and ambitious. They fall for each other, but reality TV is getting in the way.
“You don’t always know these things when you first cast actors but they turned out to have an amazing chemistry,” Goldstein said. “They’re both really attractive people, but in a natural, accessible way, so it’s easy to see how they’re drawn to each other —emotionally and romantically. Both Chelsea and Chris brought an honest, everyday quality to their characters that I think made them enormously likable and relatable.”
Clampett Advises Aspiring Writers Not to Give Up
Clampett had some advice to share to aspiring writers.
“The advice I would give aspiring fiction writers first of all is to keep writing, no matter what, and stay true to your voice and write what is meaningful to you without paying attention to trends,” she said. “The market in publishing is changing at a fast pace so if your goal is publishing you need to invest time in learning about the indie and traditional markets and what the opportunities are. I also recommend joining a community of writers in your genre either online or in writers’ groups where you can support each other and share information.”