Peterborough screenwriter Carley Smale continues to find success writing Christmas-themed films, with her latest project A gingerbread Christmas now streaming on Crave after it premiered on Discovery+ in November.
Written by Carley with Blaine Chiappetta based on a story by Carley and Katelyn James (co-CEO of One City Peterborough where Carley used to work), A gingerbread Christmas tells the story of aspiring architect Hazel Stanley (Tiya Sircar), who goes home to Chicago for the holidays despondent after being passed over for a job at New York City’s top architecture firm, where worked as an intern.
After returning home, she discovers that local contractor James Meadows (Marc Bendavid) has been helping her father Ted (Sugith Varughese) with the family bakery, which has been in decline since Hazel’s award-winning baker mother passed away. not only renovating but also baking too.
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To complete against the trendy new bakery across the street owned by Shelby (Kyana Teresa), Hazel’s once best friend turned bitter rival, Hezel and James team up their talents to create a gingerbread design for a contest. event hosted by Chicago’s “Cookie King” Mark Clemmons (Food Network’s Duff Goldman) with a grand prize of $100,000. However, competition from the duo is fierce, including from Shelby, and unforeseen complications threaten to unravel not only its brilliant design but also its budding romance.
“When I read the script, I liked the way the love story between Hazel and James unfolds,” says director Pat Kiely. “They do well in life individually, but something really wonderful happens when they come together. We also have a very diverse cast, and it made me very happy to direct something that will hopefully connect with a lot of different people.”
An avid writer and film buff as a young woman described as a “rom-com savvy”, Carley was born and raised in Peterborough. The Crestwood High School graduate moved to Toronto to attend Humber College, where she studied film and media. While in college, she interned at a production company that made movies for television.
VIDEO: Trailer for “A Gingerbread Christmas”
“I started writing movie treatments for various networks like the Hallmark Channel, Lifetime and Nickelodeon,” Carley told kawarthaNOW in 2017. “Eventually, a Christmas idea of mine sold and I became the development director for all the Christmas content.”
At age 24, Carley produced the first screenplay, the christmas parade, premiered on the Hallmark Channel to high ratings in Canada, the United States and Europe. She also wrote and directed her first feature film in 2014 titled cold seasonwhich won Best No Budget Film at the 2015 Toronto Independent Film Festival. The film had international premieres in both New York City and Berlin to high praise.
In December 2015, his original story concept titled On the 12th day of Christmas it premiered on the Hallmark Channel and was the #1 TV movie of the weekend, with 5.4 million viewers.
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In 2015, Carley decided to strike out on her own and pursue writing full-time. In December 2017, she scripted her for the dramatic comedy Christmas in snowy inn premiered on Lifetime.
That was followed by Christmas pen pals in 2018, There’s no time like Christmas (with Anita Hughes) in 2019, and both unwrapped christmas (as story consultant with writer Gary Hardwick) and Let’s meet again on Christmas Eve in 2020.
In addition to her Christmas movies, in 2020 Carley wrote the Lifetime movie His fatal fixation and the romantic comedy Midnight at the Magnolia.
Midnight at the Magnolia it was nominated for Best TV Movie at the Canadian Screen Awards in February 2022 and spent over a month on Netflix’s top 10 list in the US. The movie is now available to stream on Netflix in Canada.