With Anne Wheeler in the director’s chair, ‘Friends & Family Christmas’ narrates the story of two friends who are pushed into a pretend relationship due to parental pressure, but become enamored with each other. Amelia is a New York lawyer who has recently broken off an engagement with her partner. She was planning to skip Christmas celebrations when her concerned parents called to ask about her plans. In an argument with her father, she spontaneously makes up a story about dating her photographer friend, Dani, unbeknownst to her.
When the two meet Dani’s parents for Christmas, word has gotten around, and Amelia has to quickly take her friend into confidence, lest her scheme falls apart. Initially awkward about the pretend relationship, the two soon become much closer to one another than they had thought possible and find romantic feelings stirring. The holiday-themed romance grows amidst jubilant Christmas cheer and family celebrations, leaving us wondering if shooting for the Hallmark movie really took place in the city that never sleeps.
Where Was Friends & Family Christmas Filmed?
‘Friends & Family Christmas,’ was filmed entirely in Langley, British Columbia, and not New York City. Principal photography was carried out in September and October of 2023, with the filmmakers rejoicing at their historic accomplishment of creating the first Hallmark movie with a female couple leading it. Let us take a closer look at the sites used for lensing the milestone production.
Langley, British Columbia
The Christmas romance was shot in Langley, particularly on the film backlot, Martini Town. The location is named after Gemma Martini, CEO and Founder of Martini Film Studios, and is part of a 16-acre outdoor plot that has become renowned among filmmakers for its picturesque facades, buildings, and streets. What makes the location truly stand out though, is its striking resemblance to a classical New York City neighborhood, complete with narrow back alleys and red-bricked buildings.
The lot was only created as an extension of Martini Studios when Netflix’s fortuitous series ‘Grendel,’ required a New York City look from the site. The studio agreed to their requirements and had the production crew of the Netflix series build the set for them. Filming here allows the crew to focus on their primary job without having to take on the headache of arranging for the police to block off streets or crowd control. Therefore, the studio became the perfect destination for Wheeler and her team to lens their New York set love story.
The crew made good use of the studio’s facilities, decorating it with sparkling lights and Christmas paraphernalia. Interior and exterior shots were conducted using its coffee shops, town square, urban alleys, and movie theatre with a lit marquee. In true Hallmark efficiency, this film was shot alongside Lucie Guest’s ‘Sealed with a List,’ as both film crews made use of the versatile studio back-to-back.
Notably, the filming studio opened its doors to visitors from December 1, 2023, up until January 1, 2024; to let fans of Christmas-themed movies explore its familiar streets and structures that they would have seen dozens of times in various productions. December 2 on the set was held as “Hallmark Fan Day” with tours and panel discussions with Hallmark actors and behind-the-scenes crew. The film backlot has previously been used in productions such as, ‘The Wedding Cottage,’ ‘Schmigadoon,’ ‘Vindicta,’ and CW’s ‘Kung Fu.’
Friends & Family Christmas Cast
Amelia is embodied by Ali Albert, a prolific actress and director, who has directed the Hallmark films, ‘Spotlight on Christmas,’ ‘Time for Her to Come Home for Christmas,’ and ‘Christmas in Notting Hill,’ while acting in ‘Three Wise Men and a Baby,’ ‘Every Time a Bell Rings,’ and ‘A Christmas to Cherish.’ Starring opposite her is the Venezuelan-born Canadian actress, Humberly González as Amelia. You may have seen her essaying the roles of Sophie Sanchez in ‘Ginny and Georgia,’ Rosario in ‘Killer High,’ Vanessa in ‘The Dark,’ and Brooklyn 2 in ‘Utopia Falls.’ The movie also features Jeremy Hoffman as Tanner.
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