‘Rebuilding a Dream Christmas’
Twinkling lights aglow along Main Street under a star-filled sky in the quaint town of Weston will take the spotlight in the upcoming family-friendly film, titled “Rebuilding a Dream Christmas.”
The film, starring Meggan Kaiser, Zane Stephens, and Bryson JonSteele, is airing on the Lifetime channel at 7 p.m. Central Time on Thursday, Dec. 23.
“Rebuilding a Dream Christmas” is a charming film about a real estate broker Abbey, (Meggan Kaiser) who is drawn back to her hometown in the small riverside town (Weston) to repair the property that her grandmother transferred to her in a final declaration. Inclined to sell the Victorian- era house, Abbey hires a single dad, Josh (Zane Stephens), to handle the repairs. Abbey and Josh end up working together to repair her architecture gem and build a romantic connection. The movie has relatable characters, a strong sense of community pride, and the feeling of romance, the filmmakers say.
The director personally selected the picturesque town of Weston as the perfect backdrop for countless scenes.
Filmed in the summertime of 2020, the cinemaphotographer, Isaac Alongi and his wife, director Sandra Martin, had their work cut out for them transforming the storefronts of many one-of-a-kind shops and historic structures along Weston’s Main Street into a magical winter wonderland. From the glittering white lights laced across the rooftops of stores with picture windows painted with holiday scenes to fake snow dusting every inch of curbside, the charming town of Weston was essentially wrapped in holiday cheer overnight.
But they didn’t act alone. A lot of downtown business owners took it upon themselves to decorate their storefronts with holiday splendor fit for Santa himself, Alongi says.
Others answered the call for help by serving as extras in a wide range of scenes, including a glittery Christmas fair, as well as a glimpse of the past captured along Main Street.
“Locals showed up in the middle of summer with sweltering hot temperatures in winter coats, hats, gloves, and scarves,” said Alongi. “Everyone was very accommodating, and the movie just wouldn’t be the same without them.”
The biggest challenge while shooting this film, Alongi said, was setting the outdoor scene for Christmastime when it’s a 90-degree day with an uncomfortably high level of humidity. Besides shooting outside scenes when the sun was lower in the sky, the crew had an unending passion to look the winter part and create a dreamlike atmosphere.
“We had to play around with snow machines and add a lot of twinkling lights,” said Alongi.
The crew discovered when the sun finally faded and the sky turned dark, the true magic of filming a Christmas movie in June, July, and August occurred. Under the cover of nights, hundreds of dancing lights become a magical backdrop and artificial, glittery snow becomes illuminous.
Still, during post production Alongi enhanced several scenes with special effects.
“There’s a scene where Abbey nearly hits a reindeer but swerves off the roadway. We filmed the reindeer on a green screen,” said Alongi. “That was the first time I did something like that.”
The other big challenge filming this movie was the pandemic. Alongi and Martin took countless precautions to keep the actors and crew safe while filming, especially indoor scenes with a moderate-size crowd.
“Rebuilding a Dream Christmas” was the first movie Alongi and Martin worked on during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, they have filmed an additional six movies. To keep everyone safe while filming, they ordered individualized lunch packages early in the pandemic and social distanced as much as possible.
“Rebuilding a Dream Christmas” failed to air during last year’s holiday season. Alongi and Martin say they are overwhelmed with joy to share this film with an audience this year.
“We were on a very small indie film budget with this movie, but I think it still turned out quite well,” said Alongi.
From photographer and wedding gown business owner to cinematographer and director
Alongi and Martin were both raised in Kansas City and initially pursued careers outside of the film production industry. Alongi worked as a portrait photographer and Martin worked in her family’s bridal business. Fueled by a desire to tell uplifting, positive stories that matter, the pair formed Transatlantic Films and shot their first film, Trust Fund in September of 2014.
Since then, Alongi and Martin have worked in the movie industry with a variety of producers and directors. The movies they have worked on together include, “How to Train Your Puppy/Husband,” which began airing on the Hallmark channel on May 16, 2020, and “It’s a Fixer Upper,” a romantic drama about a couple that get in over their head.
Over the past seven years, they have made about a dozen movies, six or so during the pandemic. One reason the filming of their movies hasn’t been thrown off by the pandemic is because cast members were kept to a minimum.
“We thought we would just make one movie per year, but when the pandemic happened–some of the bigger films got shut down–we figured out that we could do films with a really small crew, like 10 or 12 people,” said Alongi.
Alongi and Martin believe they’ve had a unique opportunity to do this kind of creative work and enjoy “getting it out into the world.”
Unlike many filmmakers today, Alongi and Martin steer clear of controversial issues, making their films enjoyable for a wider audience.
“We try to find stories that are good for the whole family to watch together and have positive family values,” added Alongi.
The duo is about to embark on their next movie, a Christmas musical, shot in Franklin, Tenn.
“This Christmas movie will be filmed over the winter months!” said Alongi.