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    Kimberley Sustad Talks Recreation of Love, Writing Smash Hallmark Hits with Paul Campbell, and Extra!

    Loveuary could also be over, however Hallmark reminds you that it is at all times time for love with Recreation of Love.

    Kimberley Sustad and Brooks Darnell star on this cute Hallmark unique a few recreation designer named Audrey and a venture supervisor named Matthew who need to get previous their variations to ship a brand new recreation in report time.

    We touched base with Kimberley to get the inside track on the film, step again in time to debate slightly Christmas magic, and discuss her love of writing and performing.

    Please benefit from the interview, which has been edited for content material and readability.

    Kimberley Sustad for Game of Love

    So earlier than we discuss Recreation of Love, we now have to revisit Christmas to speak about Three Sensible Males and a Child. I had no concept that you just and Paul Campbell had been writing companions.

    Yeah, we’re. That was a variety of enjoyable. They’re like The Beatles now, these three boys.

    Three Wise Men and a Baby

    Proper. I imply, you have to be over the moon about that film’s success.

    Yeah, it had a variety of issues going for it, and I knew that it will hit Hallmark audiences the best way it did. I wasn’t anticipating it to kind of break the glass ceiling and go right into a wider viewers house the best way that it did.

    It is greater than you may hope for once you’re writing these items or making these films in order that much more folks can see them, take pleasure in them, and rejoice the vacations over them. In order that was actually nice.

    How did you get fascinated by script writing within the first place?

    Paul and I did a film, our very first film collectively, which was Godwink Christmas, and it was extra of a sentimental film. And Paul and I are each humorous, as I found after we had been doing this film. 

    Goodwink Christmas Poster

    The film was actually sentimental, and we stored saying, oh, I want we had the possibility to do a romcom or one thing like that to essentially check this vitality that we had. As a result of when the cameras began rolling, it was joke after joke, and we had been laughing hysterically, despite the fact that that was not the film we had been filming.

    And I believe sooner or later he was like, “Have you ever ever thought of writing one?” And I used to be like, “Oh, no, no, no, no. However I do have this concept.” And I delicate pitched him Christmas by Starlight, and he stated, “Oh, that is a terrific concept. Let’s write it.” I used to be like, “Are you insane?”

    And Paul’s a type of guys that, when he says one thing, he follows by. I believe it was 5 months after we completed wrapping that film, came to visit with cue playing cards, and he was like, “Let’s do that factor.”

    We kind of bumped our means alongside, and we wrote this script on spec, and we walked into Hallmark after we had another occasion to go to. We requested, “Hey, can we are available for a fast assembly earlier than the TCAs?” And we handed them the script and pitched them the film.

    Nicely, we pitched them the film, after which we handed them the script, and so they had been like, “What? You wrote it?” And we had been like, “Yeah, yeah. So have a learn.” And so they did and liked it. And that is sort of how we started.

    Walking Decoration Lined Streets

    It was extra all people’s shock. I believe lots of people in all probability say, “Oh, I am scripting this factor, or I am engaged on this factor.” We sort of simply did it quietly.

    I believe it took us in all probability 9 months or one thing like that, a extremely very long time — I assume not for lots of films. I believe it was a yr later we had been capturing it, and that was Christmas by Starlight, and we have sort of simply stored going ever since then.

    Wow. That is good to have any individual you take pleasure in performing with who may also join with you on the writing degree.

    Yeah, we now have very completely different expertise that work surprisingly properly collectively when making a film, which I did not know on the time. I actually did not know a ton about writing, however I did know a ton about story. After which, after we began placing these items collectively, it simply kind of was the proper match.

    Enjoying the Tree-Lighting Ceremony

    Okay. I’ve to imagine you have obtained much more on the again burner now.

    Sure, we do.

    I am unable to wait. I am unable to wait to see what you provide you with subsequent. I believe your expertise in making these films goes a protracted approach to making the content material exactly what works for the viewers.

    That is proper. And what you discover is a variety of the issues that I do as an actor once I’m in a task or prepping one or filming one has a variety of components wanted to make a script as properly.

    Since you’ll see gaps or by traces, or I used to get in there, and simply sort of negotiate my means round with the director and the producers and are available out with a product that I felt was slightly clearer, slightly extra streamlined, or slightly funnier or no matter it’s that the script could also be needing.

    The Starlight Cafe Poster

    I had no concept I might switch a few of that to writing. I’ve realized rather a lot during the last couple of years doing it. Starlight was sort of like a quick Masterclass as a result of what occurred was I do not assume anybody anticipated to make that film as quick as they did. As a result of as soon as COVID hit, I believe materials and all these films obtained sidelined.

    And right here we had our little Starlight. Randy Pope at Hallmark was nonetheless creatively working that finish of issues, and he stated, “We will do Starlight.” And we’re like, “What?”

    Three months away from even having the second draft. And Randy is like, “We will make it occur. So what can we obtained to do?” And we simply wrote madly. Even whereas we had been there filming it, ending issues in order that there was the reward of COVID that gave us an opportunity and the beautiful folks at Hallmark that gave us an opportunity.

    After which Paul and I lastly obtained to do a humorous film collectively as a result of we wrote it. After which it was all these three issues aligned very well. And I believe audiences actually favored that one rather a lot.

    Attending a Holiday Bazaar

    And who is aware of your strengths higher than the 2 of you? So you would write what you knew would match the invoice.

    Nicely, I am an encyclopedia of ’90s romcoms, second to second. I really like them a lot. I grew up watching these over and over. These are extra my Disney than Disney was. So I can pull again each element, each scene of all of them. I am a giant fan, and so I believe you are profitable on the issues that you are a fan of.

    I used to be watching a grasp class on-line. I believe it would’ve even been Spielberg. He was saying, and I am not placing myself on his degree in anyway, however I believed that is a extremely good level. He stated, “Once you go in to jot down one thing, beginning someplace that nothing about is not normally the place. I write issues that I am a fan of.”

    And ever since he was eight years outdated, he was a fan of warfare. He simply had all these little plastic toy troopers. He would arrange these epic landscapes stuffed with them and dramatize the entire thing perpetually for 20 years doing one thing to the extent of that.

    And I used to be like, “Yeah, that is so true.” As a result of I have been watching these films for therefore lengthy and am such a fan of them, with the ability to write them and produce them to life now’s so enjoyable and pleasurable and rather a lot simpler as a result of I am a fan of it.

    Getting Goofy in the Starlight Cafe

    And is not that why you watch a Masterclass? Since you need to get these nuggets of knowledge that sort of bolster your ideas.

    Sure. How do you do it? How does it work for different folks? And you discover like, wow, no surprise you are a fan. With the films he comes up with, I believe he is greater than only a fan of one thing.

    Nicely, by now, sure. Nevertheless it needed to begin someplace.

    Yeah, you are going to begin someplace. And that, I assume, is the place I began and the way I began.

    Kimberley Sustad for The Starlight Cafe

    You are additionally a prolific actress. You are still performing in different folks’s work. How do you see writing and performing working collectively as your profession continues?

    I actually do not discover it bizarre to jot down the issues that I am in. I believe Paul and I are a film for us to be a pair on display screen collectively. That is a variety of enjoyable being concerned with that. And creatively and behind the scenes, it is actually satisfying.

    I haven’t got an issue handing it off and letting different folks do their jobs with it. I really like the collaborative course of, and in order that’s the way it actually works once I’m engaged on issues that I’ve written. I additionally love watching different folks deliver these characters to life, as properly.

    That’s terribly satisfying and a lot enjoyable, particularly if a variety of the time you will have these voices in your head, after which an actor will do it, and you may go, “Wow, that is means higher than it was in my head. That is wonderful.”

    I assume once I’m not writing them, I attempt to do the identical justice to these scripts or folks’s laborious work by way of writing and dig into greater than what’s on the web page and make a completely rounded character or a completely rounded particular person, actually not a personality. And that is sort of how I’m going at it as properly.

    Game of Love Poster

    So I need to dump this on you since you’re a fan of 90s Romcoms. I hope that as Hallmark has been altering up their content material fairly a bit, you sort of go into the straight Romcom and never simply do vacation themes or seasonally-themed films.

    So I believe that you just and Paul ought to write one. It is like a standard rom-com for Hallmark in order that we are able to get that ball rolling. I place confidence in you.

    Do not you are worried. Do not you are worried. I believe so too.

    Good. I like speaking to individuals who can get issues achieved. [laughs]

    Three Sensible Males rode a high-quality line. They did a ton of Christmasy issues, nevertheless it did not need to do with Christmas. The story itself.

    Backpack and Coffee

    I agree.

    It happened at Christmas. And so we’re regularly getting there. And there was a variety of dialog and a little bit of fear on the manager facet as a result of the departure from that may be a scary one, particularly once you’re coping with their Christmas, which is their huge time of yr.

    I will have at hand it to them like, “Okay, Christmas is not ruling this factor, however the story is, and we’re high-quality with it. We will let it go.” And I believe they noticed the facility of that.

    Proper. And now that different networks like Netflix are pulling out these sorts of films, theirs are far much less Christmas pushed, but additionally round Christmas. I believe Hallmark can transfer in that path and get again a few of that viewers.

    Yeah, a number of of them. Once you do a story-driven script, it is obtained to be absolutely rounded. It is not simply the sentimentality of Christmas anymore.

    Cutting the Game Board

    It is no matter’s occurring in these folks’s lives and that story that is entrance and middle. And so it takes slightly bit longer and digging into a variety of, “what is that this film about? And what’s the story we’re making an attempt to inform?” Difficult.

    At first, Recreation of Love looks as if a Valentine’s sort film, however I do not assume that it is nearly love any greater than Three Sensible Males and a Child was about Christmas.

    That is proper.

    What about that position appealed to you?

    What I liked about Audrey was that she’s extremely aggressive to a fault. However we come to search out on the market’s simply this must show her price. And I believe it is one thing that we are able to all relate to.

    Making a Game About Love

    I believe we get slightly misplaced in issues, generally making an attempt to determine or be recognized by one thing which may give us worth, and discovering that you just is likely to be sufficient simply as you might be, isn’t solely horrifying but additionally relieving.

    And so I believe folks will bumble alongside along with her, struggle for that, and see it straight away, but additionally fully relate when that every one involves a head. So she’s a really relatable character for all of us.

    Nicely, what I associated to? Her carrying a hoodie. I used to be like, I’ve by no means seen anyone in a Hallmark film put on my garments. I am at all times in a t-shirt and a hoodie.

    Yeah. Converse. I do not actually look nice within the hoodie as a result of I am tall. And once I noticed that, I used to be like, oh. [laughs]

    Audrey Visits a Friend

    You seemed so cute.

    The petite ladies get away with the hoodies. However then I used to be like, nah, tall ladies can put on them too. So right here we go.

    Yeah. I am tall. That is my staple if I am not doing one thing, simply one thing snug I can dart round in and have a pocket.

    After I initially learn this, that they had her sort of amp up her wardrobe towards the top. The stylist ended up serving to her. And I did not need to struggle that arduous, however I stated, “Hey guys, it is 2023. Can we not change the lady to look higher so she will be able to get the man?” Thanks.

    Audrey is Surprised

    Thanks for that as a result of I seen.

    And so they had it in there. And I used to be like, “Guys, that is not the story.” That is not her journey for her to undergo this complete factor after which present up having modified the factor she fought for.

    Proper. Like Sandy from Grease.

    She’s okay, simply as she is. And perhaps the extra she will be able to settle for that, the extra she will be able to let go. Proper?

    Proper. And he or she did. She wore one thing apart from a hoodie, which was nonetheless snug and properly inside her type vary. It made sense. So you would change on the within.

    Precisely. They had been like, “Nicely, we won’t have a hoodie throughout.” I used to be like, “We’ll discover it. We’ll discover it.”

    Audrey Takes the Lead

    Proper. And you may change on the within. She grew and accepted a unique facet of herself, and that is way more essential than altering her garments.

    I had a enjoyable interview with Brooks this vacation season. What was it like working with him?

    Oh, he is pretty. After I first met him, I used to be like, oh, that is going to work as a result of he is so cool, and I am not. Instantly, he simply has this actually chill, cool demeanor in life too.

    I’m one hundred percent extra like Audrey. I’ve no cool issue. So I believed, oh, that might be an fascinating vitality on display screen. And we’ll see how that works. I believe it really works fairly properly.

    Audrey and Matthew Back to Back

    It does. It really works out very well.

    Nice. He did not need to play cool. He’s cool.

    I believe it is his voice.

    He simply obtained this actually robust, grounded presence, and he does not need to assume too lengthy about his phrases, or he does not strive too laborious. He is not making an attempt to win folks on a regular basis. He is very current and grounded. And that may be unnerving generally once you’re like, “Like me, like me!” Extra of my vitality.

    I believe you are past that now. I believe folks know you adequate to love you simply by your films.

    I do not know if that ever adjustments, although. That is the bizarre factor. I’d like to be extra, “yeah, I am so assured.” Nevertheless it’s one of many causes I’ve by no means even gone out to do a type of Christmas conferences as a result of I am terrified.

    Game Dynamics

    Oh my gosh. Of all folks.

    I do know. Is not that loopy?

    They’re one of the best folks, Hallmark followers. They might embrace you so warmly. I have not been to at least one, however I am like in a Tyler Hines Fb group, and oh my gosh, they’re simply over the moon with him and his work. Simply so many sort phrases to say and such caring folks. And so they all care about one another.

    It is not simply films. It’s obtained a little bit of a motion in the direction of group that individuals are discovering. I believe that’s actually particular. I am actually for that — folks from all around the world.

    It is like players. They join with folks in every single place and get collectively on the web to play these video games. After which they get to know one another, take journeys collectively as a bunch, and all have this one factor.

    Getting New Directions

    Otherwise you go to Comedian-Con. And these folks have been constructing costumes of their favourite recreation characters for a yr. Then they get collectively. They’ve this unimaginable time in San Diego and have one of the best time of their lives. They’re a part of one thing, a part of a group.

    I believe that Hallmark hat is providing that. And that is changing into extra, and extra of what is transpiring are these folks. The followers are connecting and discovering a group. And I believe that’s so lovely.

    What else do you may have in your plate in the mean time?

    Paul and I are writing a script referred to as My Week in Wyoming, which goes to be an incredible story. It is nearly like a Metropolis Slickers. And it is not Christmas, nevertheless it’s actually humorous.

    We’re additionally engaged on a Christmas film that we’re writing, and I am not allowed to say something about that one, nevertheless it’s additionally going to, I hope, blow the doorways off as properly. So we’re having a variety of enjoyable doing that concurrently, really.

    Audrey Points it Out

    Nicely, it could not occur to 2 nicer folks. I am completely happy for you.

    Oh, thanks.

    Recreation of Love premieres on Hallmark on Saturday, March 11 at 8/7c.

    Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a employees author and critic for TV Fanatic. She’s a member of the Critic’s Selection Affiliation, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of tv and movie with anybody who will hear. Comply with her on Twitter and electronic mail her right here at TV Fanatic.

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