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.
It had a dishwasher and garbage disposal, central heating and air conditioning, everything the couple’s rental apartment was missing. One especially welcome upgrade: the extra bathroom.
«Our apartment only had one bathroom. That wasn’t much fun when we were potty training our two kids,” said Weinman, a prolific contributor to movie scripts for the Hallmark Channel (30 produced so far), many of them Christmas-themed. Her latest, “Catch Me if You Claus,” premieres on Thanksgiving night.
The house was in poor condition, but it had a solid foundation and a new roof, making it attractive to fins. They were present, making offers exclusively in cash. Mrs. Weinman and her husband, Will Swift, a talent manager, had several contingencies and needed a loan.
Fortunately, currency comes in many forms. Ms. Weinman, who is well versed in happy endings and how to achieve them in 84 minutes (excluding commercials), put her writing skills to work on a letter addressed to the elderly woman who owns the house.
“He had bought it in the 1950s and found it very difficult to sell. She didn’t want to leave,” Weinman said. “I wrote to him, ‘You loved your kids at home and raised them at home and that’s what we want to do,’ and I attached a photo of our family.”
In the end, she and Swift prevailed and closed on the property in 2016.
Hearing: “We have a group of about eight families. We met when our kids were in preschool, we live close to each other and do a lot of things together. And I think I have named the characters in my films after each child.”
“Maybe my letter was a little better worded than average, and maybe what I do for a living gave me a little bit of an advantage,” Ms. Weinman admitted. “But honestly, it was from the heart and the owner was sorry.”
Weinman, who declined to give her age, grew up in Saratoga, California, and moved to Los Angeles in the mid-1990s, hoping to make it as an actress. “But they couldn’t arrest me,” she said. “I wrote a play so I could act and everyone who saw it said, ‘Your writing is very good.’”
Disconcertingly, as Ms. Weinman recalls, there was a general silence about her performance. It seemed like a good time to reflect on a different career path. Through her day job as an assistant in the television movie department of the Lifetime network, where she started in 2000, Ms. Weinman gained a footing in the business and made useful contacts. “Some people who were assistants at the time now run networks,” she said.
After seven years, I was tired of working 9 to 5 and then coming home at night and trying to write.
“My husband told me, ‘Take some time off and really try it,’” said Weinman, who sold her first script, “Backyard Wedding,” to Hallmark in the spring of 2009. “I had heard they needed a wedding movie.” , he said, “and I sat down and wrote it in a few weeks.”
Since then, assignments have come in a steady stream. “Generally, they come to me looking for romantic comedies,” said Weinman, who in addition to working on her own projects is sometimes called upon to polish other scripts. “I’m definitely a romantic comedy girl. those are the things Yo Would you like to see.”
The house, now completely renovated, reflects its success. A wall was knocked down to create a large kitchen-diner. Ms. 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 backyard and send light through the house.
Saying Ms. Weinman likes grays is like saying Hallmark likes snow and sentimentality. The kitchen counters and caulking around the backsplash are gray; so are the stools around the island and the chairs around the dining room tables. The walls of the living room, the stones around the fireplace, the sections: grey, grey, grey.
“My husband says, ‘Really? Further Grey?’” Ms. Weinman said. “To me, he feels clean and crisp, but sometimes I think, ‘Yeah, we could use more color.’”
He pointed triumphantly at the front door: it’s bright red.
White barn doors are a recurring theme. They separate the kitchen from the laundry room. They are in front of Mrs. Weinman’s closet and her daughter’s closet.
Due to checkbook necessity, the renovation was carried out in three stages. “Things were in bad shape,” Weinman recalled. “I had anxiety looking at the linoleum. But we said, ‘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 room was brought to you by ‘A Mrs. Miracle Christmas,’” she said, referring to a Hallmark movie that was first released in 2021. “ AND this The room was brought to you by ‘Destination Wedding’” (2017).
“And the patio is courtesy of ‘Pride, Prejudice and Mistletoe,’” he added of the 2018 Hallmark movie that funded the outdoor kitchen.
There will be a guest house out back when Mrs. Weinman makes some more sales. (According to a spokesperson for the Writers Guild of America, $47,808 is the minimum fee for a 90-minute story and a script designated as “non-network,” a term that applies to Hallmark.)
“Write about what you know” is lasting advice. Mrs. Weinman knows her value.
“Several years ago, I did a script for Hallmark called ‘Flip That Romance,’ about house lovers,” he said. “And at that time, I was in the middle of a renovation. “I saw all the things that could go wrong and I put them in the movie.”
Hallmark movie sets have been a source of both inspiration and aspiration. When Weinman went to see the production of one of his television plays, he made a mental note of the subway tiles and the farmhouse sink in a kitchen scene. Now they are part of his own kitchen.
If only she could get set designers to come decorate her house for Christmas. In the meantime, she has begun to enjoy the Christmas cheer. The bar cart in the living room displays bottles of Hallmark-brand wine, including Joy, a sauvignon blanc, and Jingle, a cabernet sauvignon, gifts the network sent Ms. Weinman several years ago.
“I haven’t drunk them,” he said. “But don’t tell Hallmark.”
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