Apr. 18—ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It may be April, but it's still Christmas in Santa Fe.
At least for an upcoming Lifetime movie that has been filming in the City Different for the past month.
Jody Hahn is at the helm of the production as director. It marks the longtime TV director's turn into feature film.
"It's my first time in Santa Fe," Hahn says. "Oh my god, I love it. Honesty, I've been here a month and what I've seen is gorgeous. The food has been delicious and I can't wait to come back when I'm not working."
The film is produced by Mario Lopez and Mark Roberts. The pair teamed up for the film, "Feliz NaviDAD," for Lifetime last year.
Lopez and Roberts are both Mexican American and get behind projects that tell the stories.
"Holiday in Santa Fe" was written by Cristela Alonzo and was one of four pitches to Lifetime.
Roberts says it was the film given the green light from the network.
"Mario and I are both Mexican American," Roberts says. "We think about us as hybrid versions of Mexicans. We don't understand the deep details of the Mexican culture. This film is a mixture of American culture as well as Mexican culture. Our families have instilled us with neat ideas and we are trying to speak to both sides. Mario loves to say that he 'doesn't want to hit you over the head with a tortilla.' We want to tell stories that speak to a bigger audience by not leaning into the culture that people just don't understand."
"Holiday in Santa Fe" tells the story of a family-owned business, Casa de Milagro, dreamed up by matriarch Milagro, and her beloved husband Manuel Ortega.
Together the tight-knit family creates ornaments and decorations inspired by Mexican Christmas traditions. The award-winning creations have become collectors' items and the unique pieces are highly sought after each holiday season. Siblings Tony, played by Lopez, and Magdalena, played by Aimee Garcia, help run the shop in Santa Fe, but when Milagro unexpectedly dies, the family struggles to find its heart.
Enter Belinda Sawyer, played by Emeraude Toubia, an executive at Warm Wishes Inc., which is one of the largest greeting card/holiday décor chains in the United States.
Warm Wishes has had its eye on the Milagro company for a sometime and sees and opportunity.
As Tony fights for the future of the company, Belinda comes into town set on acquiring Casa de Milagro, but when she meets Tony, sparks fly, and she realizes that there is more to Casa de Milagro than meets the eye.
" 'Holiday in Santa Fe' is a feel-good Christmas movie that New Mexicans should look forward to watching, because of the way this production team has embraced our charming city," says Jennifer LaBar-Tapia, Santa Fe Film Office film liaison. "Mario Lopez and his talented team of producers put a lot of thought and time into writing the script to showcase Santa Fe's history and culture, including using local artisans and musicians."
Production wrapped up on April 16.
According to the New Mexico Film Office, the production employed approximately 20 New Mexico crew members and 50 New Mexico background talent.
"We are very excited about this production being filmed in New Mexico. Mario Lopez has already been a major advocate on behalf of Santa Fe, our crew, our local businesses, and our culture, in his short time in our state," says Amber Dodson, New Mexico Film Office director.
Roberts says there weren't many obstacles while filming in Santa Fe.
Most of the production took place on the Santa Fe Plaza or in nearby businesses. There was one off-site location.
"It's like filming in the wild," Roberts says. "Even though we rented the space, it couldn't completely be controlled. People were still able to walk by and see the production. You can't shut down a place like the plaza unless you had millions and millions of dollars. We're not that kind of production. The biggest obstacle is trying to get what you need in that one day. We had the winds to contend with. When we started filming, it was snowing and would have been perfect, but the snow doesn't last and we shoot nonlinear."
Lopez has enjoyed his time and posted his excitement when on the location scout earlier this year.
"I love Santa Fe! Everyone has been terrific," Lopez says. "... The community has been very welcoming. I hope to come back and shoot here again soon."