Humber grad, Carley Smale brings another original Christmas movie to the screen, marking her fourth screenplay to air on television since graduating from the film and media production program in 2012.
Smale was inspired to create the story, The Christmas Pen Pals based on her own memories writing letters and says she asked her grandmother to be her pen pal while she was in college. For Smale, writing the letters allowed her to learn something new about her grandmother, while communicating in a fun and different setting.
She adds, “I have always romanticized the idea of falling in love with someone through letters. The lead in this movie, Sarah Drew (most known as Dr. April Kepner in the ABC medical drama series Grey's Anatomy), actually fell in love with her husband through handwritten letters and that’s why she decided to do the movie.”
Smale says the entire process complete the film was almost a year. After writing the screenplay, Smale was able to watch the film crew bring her story to life. “Being on set is so much fun. Everyone is always so nice to me and I just love watching the actors and director do their thing. It’s like Disney World for me.”
The film, airing on the Super Channel and on Lifetime, tells the story about a woman named Hannah who heads home for the holidays after an unexpected breakup. While she is home, Hannah is challenged to save her failing dating app company by creating a new romantic dating model.
There, she runs into the high school boyfriend she's been avoiding for years. At the request of her father, Hannah reluctantly signs up for the town's Christmas Cupid, an anonymous holiday pen pal service. Smitten by each letter she receives, Hannah starts to believe her pen pal could be her soulmate. On Christmas Eve, everyone reveals their identities to their pen pals, which could be the last person they'd expect.
Smale has written successful Christmas films like Snowed-Inn Christmas and On the Twelfth Day of Christmas and is currently a freelance screenwriter through Integral Artists, a distinguished talent agency and management firm operating throughout North America.
Enjoying the many opportunities to write early in her career, Smale says, “I have Susan Murray, my producing professor, to thank for sending me an email about how she thought I should apply to an internship at Chesler/Perlmutter Productions. Even though I was only 21 when I started working for them, they really treated me like I was an important part of the company and taught me so much about how the industry works and what steps I needed to take to become a screenwriter,” she says. “When I graduated from Humber, they hired me right away and so that was a huge deal. I'm not sure what I thought my life was going to look like, but I know that I have Lewis Chesler (film producer and partner of Chesler/Perlmutter Productions) to thank for believing in my ability.”
Smale was nominated at the Toronto Student Film Festival for her first short film at the age of 17 and received an award from the Toronto Independent Film Festival for Cold Season in 2015.
While she is no stranger to writing feel-good, holiday movies, Smale is open to any screenwriting opportunities the future may hold.
The Christmas Pen Pals is set to air next on December 22 at 8 p.m. on the Super Channel.