EXCLUSIVE: ‘Lights, Camera, Christmas!’ Writer Shares Behind-the-Scenes Look

Lights Camera Christmas

Gary Goldstein/Hallmark Lights Camera Christmas

Perhaps one of the best Hallmark movies this holiday season, “Lights, Camera, Christmas!” gives a humorous behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like to film a Hallmark Christmas movie. It’s a very meta tale, where one of the leads — the “King of Christmas movies” — makes a romantic connection with a talented, small-town local. There are lots of eye-wink moments, mixed with a vulnerability that leaves us really rooting for the stars.

Screenwriter Gary Goldstein wrote the script for this endearing film, and he sat down with Heavy to share some behind-the-scenes moments from the movie, along with his future creative plans.

Note: There will be minor spoilers for “Lights, Camera, Christmas!” in this story.

‘There’s So Much We See in Front of the Camera That Isn’t Happening in Real Life’

Lights Camera Christmas

HallmarkLights Camera Christmas

Goldstein said he was intrigued by the idea of exploring what goes on behind the scenes when magical holiday films are made.

“It’s just so interesting what goes on behind the camera versus in front of the camera, especially for Christmas,” he said. “There’s just so much that we see in front of the camera that isn’t happening in real life behind us. And if you shoot in an actual town, how they undergo such a giant transformation…”

He added that telling the story through the lens of the movie premiere’s Q&A was particularly fun. Each act begins with a question at the premiere, which is answered by flashing back to when the movie was being made.

“It’s a bit of a juggling act,” he admitted. “You’ve got to keep the timelines in order. But I think it’s a really fun way to tell it… There’s something very magical about movie premieres, particularly one that’s set at Christmas.”

He said framing the movie this way allowed him to explore the concept without getting too bogged down.

“I think it feels very real and brings the viewer into the whole process in a fun way without overwhelming them with the minutiae of movie-making,” he said.

Sustad & Brotherton’s Approach to Comedy ‘Was Just So Different, But Complementary’


The movie stars Kimberley Sustad as Kerry and John Brotherton as Brad. Goldstein said the two stars matched what he had pictured while he was writing the script.

“As a writer, you picture certain types of actors in your head … and certain kinds of voices,” he explained. “And it’s so fascinating for any movie to see who’s ultimately cast. These two were really just so much like how I imagined the characters… They did a great job and brought the characters to life in a very real, funny, charming, and accessible way. And I love seeing characters change on screen. They leaned into that so well and had fun with it.”

The movie had a lot of funny moments, and Sustad and Brotherton’s different comedic styles blended perfectly.

“Their whole approach to comedy was just so different, but complementary,” Goldstein said. “They did really well together.”

He added that their portrayals also sold a message he had in mind: that relationships aren’t about two people being the same, but about two people learning from each other.

“It’s like real life in so many ways,” he said. “What makes a relationship work? It’s not two people being exactly the same and having all the same interests, the same approaches. It’s two people who are different but complementary to each other, growing because of what they’re learning from each other.”

He also loved the side story with Caleb and Jill.

“We have the second relationship between Caleb and Jill — the creators of these movies,” he added. “And how making this movie has brought them back together. So you’ve got this little parallel between the main relationship and the second relationship that I think really kind of rounds it out a lot.”

‘One of the Hardest Things for Any Creative Person is Finding the Way to Pursue Your Art & Make a Living at It’


Kerry had a fascinating backstory grounded in a situation that many people can relate to: chasing a dream while also facing a financially uncertain future. Goldstein said much of that was inspired by his own experience.

“Where Kerry is concerned, when you’re trying to pursue a creative endeavor, you have to find a way to balance a life, how to make a living, how to pay your bills, and how to put your art out there,” he said. “…I think one of the hardest things for any creative person or artist is finding the way to pursue your art and make a living at it, without letting the need for money stop the progress of your art… So I drew on some of my experience in that part of it… I think that’s a very real concept. And I think that was probably my inspiration for her.”

The Christmas Dinner ‘Is That Moment in the Movie Where the Dynamic Shifts’

HallmarkLights, Camera, Christmas

He said the scene where the two leads first meet is one of his favorites in the movie.

“I love the scene where he takes her phone and he’s so wrapped up in his head that he doesn’t even realize he’s walked away with it,” Goldstein said. “In those first meet-cutes, you want to have something that’s a little unique but gives a snapshot into those personalities. So you see he’s so self-absorbed with his agent … And then for her, not even knowing who this guy is…”

He added that a Christmas dinner scene with Kerry, her mom Nancy, and Brad was another one of his favorites.

“That’s a really sweet scene,” he said. “It’s that moment in the movie where the dynamic starts to shift between Kerry and Brad, where you see the real person who talks about what his Christmases were like growing up.”

Goldstein’s New Novel Also Explores Family, But in a More Serious Way

C/o Gary Goldstein

Goldstein’s new movie premieres just a few weeks after his second novel, “The Mother I Never Had,” was released. His first book, “The Last Birthday Party,” was published in 2021. This new book marks a big shift in Goldstein’s writing. 

“Most of what I’ve written have been comedies — romantic comedies, high-concept comedies, family comedies…” he said. “But I haven’t written a lot of straight-on dramas… ‘The Mother I Never Had’ is a serious book. At the same time, when my book editor first read it, she sent me a note and said, ‘What I loved about the book was how you found so much humor in the dark moments.'”

He explained the book’s concept, which is about a 30-year-old man who discovers a family secret after his dad dies.

“After the father’s gone, he discovers a secret about his life — that he had a mother that he never knew existed…” Goldstein shares. “He thought his mother died in childbirth, when in fact, that turns out not to be true. And the father is gone, so he has no way of verifying this.”

The book, he said, is about picking up your life when your idols fall.

“It’s about what you do when your idol falls,” he said. “He loved his father deeply and he’s a great dad… But he found out that his idol had lied to him his entire life… It covers a lot of really significant topics.”

He said that people who’ve read this book see it through the lens of their own family experience, whether it’s divorce, a parent who died, or something else, and they find unique takeaways from the novel.

The novel was just released and you can learn more about it on Goodreads here.

READ NEXT: Hallmark Reveals Countdown to Christmas Lineup

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