Character interview with Reba Farwell of One Christmas in Winter:
Alexis: Hi, Reba! Thanks for taking the time to be interviewed by me. My first question is about the author of your story. She’s new to this but do you think that she told your story well?
Reba: As someone who makes a living telling stories in movie form, I’d say she did a pretty good job crafting my journey to Winter and meeting Hoyt!
Alexis: Your story is set in Winter, Montana. What’s it like? Use words to paint a picture of your story’s setting.
Reba: Winter is…odd, but I mean that in the best way. It’s like this perfect little down with quirky people but it’s got heart. So much heart! When I first arrived there I was shocked—I mean, we’d been given photos from the location scout, but Winter was even more amazing in person. Cold, but decked out in Christmas lights. And I do mean decked—every shop on Main Street is overflowing with Christmas cheer. It’s a place you want to go to especially during the holidays.
Alexis: You and your crew spent two weeks in Winter, Montana to make your script, “First Christmas Kiss”, come alive in a movie. What was that experience like? Describe the highs and lows, challenges and rewards.
Reba: First challenge: COLD! I mean freezing! I grew up in Arizona and then moved to L.A. and you just don’t experience that type of biting cold down south. Thankfully, our crew were troopers and we rented a bunch of heaters so no one froze too much. Another challenge was the unpredictable weather. Snowstorms may create the perfect backdrop for a Christmas movie, but they also create a lot of issues…like not being able to drive or even get out of your trailer sometimes. But, with the issues came the rewards, like the stunning mountainous backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, the crisp and brilliant snow, and the people. Honestly, the people of Winter really made this movie so much fun to shoot!
Alexis: How hard was it to keep your secret from your cast and film crew? The secret being that you wrote the script for the movie.
Reba: It was very challenging, especially since, as a director, they trust my vision. My crew follows me and my imagination through every shot and not telling them that I’d created the “map” (as it were) was very hard. Not telling my co-director Kori was really tough too, especially when we’d be hashing out how to shoot a specific scene and I’d written it to be one way and he saw it another. It was very personal, but like any creative person, you’ve got to let your work “go” a little to make it become the best it can be.
Alexis: Your lead actor slipped on the ice and got hurt so badly that he could no longer play his role in your movie. What were your first thoughts when that happened?
Reba: First off, I was beyond shocked. Then, I became a little (or maybe a lot) annoyed. I feel like it’s a bit of a no-brainer that you just don’t do stupid things when you’re in a main role like Peter was. It was also a bit frightening seeing as how, without a hero for the story, I wouldn’t be able to complete the on-location shooting.
Alexis: Hoyt Bradley is a hottie! True or false? Lol. Why did you ask him to replace your lead male actor in your movie, “First Christmas Kiss”?
Reba: *Blushes* TRUE! But, aside from that, I wasn’t really given a choice. My boss Clyde pretty much gave me an ultimatum to hire him or else. But…on the other side of things, I’d worked with Hoyt enough (him as the stand in up until that point) to know that he is a really great actor with a lot of natural talent. It helped that he’d done film work in the past too. And with that smolder…well, let’s just say it makes the movie that much better.
Alexis: Hoyt did his best to steer clear of you and your film crew. How did you convince him to star in your movie?
Reba: It was tough—and I’ll admit to sinking lower than I would have liked to in order to convince him. I knew from the get-go that he is a really kind and compassionate man. I knew that if I mentioned how many jobs were on the line if I couldn’t replace Peter, he would step in. But I also had a feeling he wanted the role—even if it was just a small part of him.
Alexis: Have you tried Hoyt’s famous lemon meringue pie or lemonade that he makes for his customers who eat at Bentley’s Diner, which was owned by his late father? If so, describe the taste.
Reba: Funny you should ask! I just convinced him to make me a lemon meringue pie. I brought his mother Cora in on it and she got the Meyer lemons he needed to make it. And the taste? Unbelievable. First off, his crust (a recipe he says his dad told him in confidence) is flakey and amazing. Then there’s the smooth and very tart filling topped off with a thick, fluffy meringue that’s lightly browned on top. He serves his with a dusting of powdered sugar on the plate and a few flakes of lemon zest on the top. I’m now requiring him to make that for me at least once a month.
Alexis: It’s been said that, “Winter (Montana) has a way of bringing people together”. Was that saying true for you? Explain.
Reba: Absolutely! Not only did it bring Hoyt and I together, but it’s also brought me into the most amazing family. Hoyt’s family—the Bradley’s—are the most loving and compassionate people! Since my mom suffers from dementia and doesn’t really remember me, it’s like I gained a whole new family. Plus, the town of Winter has practically adopted me in the short weeks I’ve been there. I may not be a native, but they treat me like one!
Alexis: Winter weather is cold but what is it about Hoyt that makes your heart warm?
Reba: I’ve talked about his good looks and that ridiculous smolder, half-smile thing he does *sigh*…but Hoyt is so much more than what you see on the outside. He loves his family so much and would sacrifice anything for them. Plus, he truly cares about people. He’s not perfect (and neither am I) but I think he’s perfect for me—and that makes my heart very warm indeed.
Alexis: Now that the production of your movie is complete, how’s it doing in the box office?
Reba: It’s doing so well! I’m unbelievably proud—and not because I wrote it, but because of the amazing crew I worked with. I couldn’t have done it without them!
Alexis: How’s your relationship with Hoyt post-production of your movie? Are you still together? What do you want to happen for your relationship with him in the next five years?
Reba: We are very much together and I couldn’t be happier. I just moved to Winter and found a super cute cottage to stay in and Hoyt’s still in his apartment with his brother Beau, though I’ve heard rumors Beau has plans to move out soon! We’ll both be communing back and forth to Los Angeles and wherever we’ll be filming next. I’ve got a few scripts in process and Hoyt’s already been cast in another holiday movie! I’ve loved this transition to Winter and hope that, in the next five years, I’ll be transitioning my last name, if you know what I mean.
Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Reba. Merry Christmas and God bless you!
Reba: Thanks so much Alexis! Merry Christmas to you as well!
Annabell “Bell” Renshaw has always loved books and the power of a good story.
She turned those passions toward writing at an early age, finding solace and adventure in made-up worlds when her mother would read to her as a kid.
She’s grown up now, but still finds herself lost in those worlds.
Blurb for Bell's book:
Reba Farwell is finally getting a chance to live out her dreams. Sent to Winter, Montana to direct filming for a crucial, on-location shoot, she knows the next two weeks will make or break her career. And she could definitely use a break. As if that isn’t enough, she’s got a secret that none of her crew knows. All she’s asking for is two weeks of small town, Christmas beauty and a little bit of on-camera sizzle.
Five years ago, Hoyt Bradley’s heart and future shattered in one fell swoop that landed him back in Winter. Thankfully, making lemonade—or his father’s famous lemon meringue pie— out of lemons is what he does best. Running Bentley’s Diner has filled the gaps left in the wake of his heartbreak, even if it hasn’t healed him completely. Not wanting to relive memories of his rocky start in the film industry, Hoyt does his best to steer clear of the dreaded film crew, but Winter has a way of bringing people together.
After one fateful delivery and a score of icy bad luck, Reba finds herself in a bind and at the mercy of what Winter can offer. Will she pull the film together in time to salvage her name as a director? Or will the sparks flying off-camera create more of a distraction than she knows how to handle?
Come visit Winter, Montana in this Christmas Novella where the Christmas lights are always on and the snow falls most frequently when loved ones share a kiss.
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