The house, a traditional white stucco ranch from the 1940s, seemed perfect to Nina Weinman. It was in downtown Los Angeles, where she and her husband wanted to live, and it was within their price range.
There was a dishwasher and garbage disposal, central heating and air conditioning – everything that was missing from the couple’s rental apartment. One particularly welcome upgrade: the extra bathroom.
“Our apartment only had one bathroom. It wasn’t much fun when we were potty training our two children,” said Ms. Weinman, a prolific contributor of movie scripts for the Hallmark Channel – 30 produced so far – many with themes of vacation. His latest film, “Catch Me If You Claus,” will premiere on Thanksgiving evening.
The house was in disrepair, but it had a solid foundation and a recent roof, making it catnip. They were out in force, making all-cash offers. Ms. Weinman and her husband, Will Swift, a talent manager, were facing several unexpected challenges and needed a loan.
Fortunately, money comes in many forms. Ms. Weinman, who is extremely knowledgeable about happy endings and how to achieve them in 84 minutes (excluding commercials), put her writing skills to good use in a letter to the older woman who owned the house.
“She bought it in the 1950s and it was very difficult for her to sell. She didn’t want to leave,” Ms. Weinman said. “I wrote to him, ‘You loved your kids at home and you raised your kids at home and that’s what we want to do,’ and I attached a picture of our family.”
Ultimately, she and Mr. Swift were successful, closing on the property in 2016.
Casting call: “We have a group of about eight families. We met when our kids were in preschool, we live near each other and do a lot of things together. And I think I named the characters in my films after each child.
“Maybe my letter was a little better constructed than average, and maybe what I do for a living gave me a little advantage,” Ms. Weinman conceded. “But honestly, it came from my heart, and the owner felt it.”
Ms. Weinman, who declined to give her age, grew up in Saratoga, Calif., and moved to Los Angeles in the mid-1990s, hoping to become an actress. “But I couldn’t be stopped,” she said. “I wrote a play to have something to act in, and everyone who saw it said, ‘Your writing is so good.'”
Disconcertingly, as Ms. Weinman recalls, there was a general silence about her performance. It seemed like a good time to think about a different career path. Through her daily work as an assistant in the television film department of Lifetime, where she started in 2000, Ms. Weinman acquired basics in the profession and made useful contacts. “Some people who were assistants at the time now run networks,” she says.
After seven years, she was tired of working 9 to 5, then coming home at night and trying to write.
“My husband was like, ‘Take some time and really try,’” said Ms. Weinman, who sold her first screenplay, “Backyard Wedding,” to Hallmark in the spring of 2009. “I had heard they needed a wedding film,” she said, “and I sat down and wrote it in a few weeks. »
Since then, the missions have followed one another. “Usually they come to me for romantic comedies,” said Ms. Weinman, who in addition to working on her own projects is sometimes called in to polish other scripts. “I’m definitely a romantic comedy girl. These are the things I I like to watch.
The house, now completely renovated, reflects its success. A wall has fallen to create a large kitchen with dining area. Mrs. Weinman had always wanted a large kitchen island, complete with a wine refrigerator. She got it, along with French doors that lead from the dining room to the courtyard and send light through the house.
Saying Ms. Weinman likes gray is like saying Hallmark has a thing for snow and sentimentality. The kitchen counters and caulk around the backsplash are gray; the same goes for stools around the island and chairs around the dining tables. The living room walls, the stone around the fireplace, the sectionals — gray, gray, gray.
“My husband says to me: “Really? More gray ?’ ” said Ms. Weinman. “To me it looks clean and crisp, but I sometimes think, ‘Yeah, we could use more colors.'”
She pointed triumphantly to the front door: It is bright red.
White barn-style doors are a recurring theme. They separate the kitchen from the laundry room. They face Mrs. Weinman’s closet and her daughter’s closet.
By necessity of checkbook, the renovation was carried out in three stages. “Things were in bad shape,” Ms. Weinman recalled. “I was anxious looking at the linoleum. But we said to ourselves, “We’ll make it.” » Every time I sold a script, we could do something else.
It has become a running joke. “My husband and I say we should put a plaque on the wall that says, ‘This piece was brought to you by ‘A Mrs. Miracle Christmas,'” she said, referring to a Hallmark movie shown for the first time in 2021. “And This the room was brought to you by “Destination Wedding” (2017).
“And the yard is courtesy of ‘Pride, Prejudice, and Mistletoe,’” she added of the 2018 Hallmark movie that funded the outdoor kitchen.
There will be a guest house in the back when Ms. Weinman does some more sales. (According to a Writers Guild of America spokesperson, $47,808 is the minimum amount for a 90-minute story and a telecast designated as “non-network,” a term that applies to Hallmark.)
“Write about what you know” is enduring advice. Ms. Weinman knows her worth.
“Several years ago, I did a screenplay for Hallmark called ‘Flip That Romance,’ about house flippers,” she said. “And at the time, I was in the middle of a renovation. I saw all the things that could go wrong and I put them into the film.
Hallmark movie sets have been a source of both inspiration and aspiration. When Ms. Weinman went to see the production of one of her TV movies, she made a mental note of the subway tiles and the farmhouse sink in a kitchen scene. They are now part of his own kitchen.
If only she could get the decorators to come and decorate her house for Christmas. In the meantime, she began to look forward to the holidays. The bar cart in the living room displays bottles of Hallmark wine, including Joy, a sauvignon blanc, and Jingle, a cabernet sauvignon, gifts from the chain sent to Ms. Weinman several years ago.
“I didn’t drink them,” she said. “But don’t tell Hallmark.”
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