Thanks to classics such as Love, Actuallynot to mention a seemingly continuous stream of confections from Hallmark and Lifetime Channelsromantic comedies have become for many a tradition during the holiday season. This year, a Los Angeles-based and lesbian-owned production house hopes the woman-centric rom-com Season of Love will become a new Christmas staple.
The film is directed by Christin Baker, who is founder and CEO of Tello Films, which operates both a streaming network and a production and distribution company. In late 2018, Baker and a colleague at Tello decided that the company's next project needed to be a holiday movie and announced an open call for pitches.
"We basically just went out to the community and said, 'We know you've been wanting a holiday rom-com, so why don't you just send us your pitches for what you'd like to see?" added Baker, who was a longtime Chicago resident. "We had a ton of just amazing pitches come to us from all over the place."
Baker as well as her colleagues whittled the entries down to a final three, eventually selecting an ambitious pitch from writer Kathryn Trammell.
"It hit all the notes with what we wanted to make," Baker recalled. "It had three storylines. It had the vibe of Love, Actually, which seems to be a thing that people watch every year. We wanted to use some of that [energy] so that we can make something that people will also watch every year. … We just loved the variety of characters."
Season of Love interweaves three storylines about developing romantic attachments in the days leading up to Christmas: Lou ( Jessica Clark ), in the throes of preparing to open her new microbrewery, becomes attracted to her welder neighbor, Kenna ( Sandra Mae Frank ); Iris ( Emily Goss ), left standing at the alter, takes comfort from her ex-fiancee's sister, Mardou ( Laur Allen ); and Janey ( Janelle Marie ) prepares to make her once long-distance relationship with musician Sue ( Dominique Provost-Chalkley ) permanent.
Tello moved rapidly, by film industry standards, to get the film together. Its call for pitches was in November 2018, and Season of Love was in production by the following May. Baker and her colleagues in the cast and crew were faced with trying to recreate Christmas in the midst of a Southern California spring.
"Even though it was May and June, it was overcast and chilly in that time," Baker said. "We asked the actors to wear jackets and they were legitimately chilly. While we couldn't do Christmas like we wanted to with our exteriors, with our interiors, we said, 'Let's do Christmas and play it up all over.' It was funny to have to get Santa hats, Christmas sweaters and Christmas trees then."
A neighbor at one of the filming locations did provide some yuletide color though.
"We had some shots of some Christmas lights on a cactus, and Christmas lights in a treethat was someone who hadn't taken down their Christmas decorations at the house next door to us," Baker recalled. "We asked our location manager, 'Can you go next door and see if they'll turn these lights on for us?'"
Tello now has another holiday movie on their docket, as well as a project about the Storyville red-light district in New Orleans, she added. "Tello's been around as long as Netflix [streaming] and Hulu, and we've always been focused on the queer female community."
Season of Love is now available to be digitally rented or purchased at www.tellofilms.com/products/season-of-love .