Field Day Director David Winning on the Power of Female Friendship and Hallmark’s Passionate Fans

TV Fanatic had the pleasure of speaking with director David Winning about Hallmark‘s latest Fall Into Love feature, Field Day.

Winning has a long, successful string of Hallmark movies on his resume, but charming rom-coms weren’t his first foray into directing.

Making his mark in the sci-fi genre, directing episodes of Are You Afraid of the Dark, Stargate: Atlantis, and Van Helsing, his resume boasts a diverse array of productions that almost seem at odds with the heartfelt Hallmark universe.

So, how did Winning find himself so far from the sci-fi realm? We talked with him about that and much more in our exclusive interview.

For more information on Field Day, please visit our exclusive clip of the delightful movie, which stars Rachel Boston, Benjamin Ayres, Shannon Chen-Kent, and Carmel Amit.

Winning’s path to filmmaking began in childhood. “I started out as a kid in Canada with a little Super 8 camera that I got for my 10th birthday, and I was making movies in the backyard with my friends.”

Coming from humble beginnings in the Canadian prairies, Winning wondered how he’d ever get to Hollywood, modestly noting, “Somehow, I think I managed to fool people over a few decades.”

When asked about his diverse filmography, Winning laughed. “It just means that I’m old, I think is what it means.”

However, diving deeper into how he got here, he revealed, “I’m a yes man. I’ve just said yes to every job I’ve ever had. So it gives me the opportunity to do a lot of different things.”

On working with Hallmark, Winning said, “It’s a great opportunity to kind of repeat some of the more wholesome stuff I used to [watch]. I grew up on science fiction and monster movies and Star Trek, but I also grew up on the Waltons and a lot of great family storytelling.”

He believes the objective of these movies is to craft a memorable tear-jerking, heartwarming narrative that stands the test of time, and he’s happy to be associated with the network, despite some ribbing he took when he first began working with Hallmark. “It’s kind of a secret pleasure for some folks,” he said admiringly.

He and Hallmark certainly have the last laugh. Mentioning the significant viewership numbers, Winning noted the channel’s success. “They’re obviously doing something right with 85 million people watching the movies last year.”

Now, with a string of successful movies that continue playing long after they premiere, Winning says working with Hallmark has “become a badge of honor.”

His films, along with many Hallmark classics, find their way back to audiences year after year. “They’re made with a great deal of care, and they’re intended to last for a while.”

Historically, the movies were somewhat predictable, but that has changed, especially over the past few years. Winning is enjoying the transformation. “Hallmark’s evolved with the audience. They’ve started purchasing scripts that are a little bit different and [hiring] writers that are a little different.”

Winning emphasized the collaborative effort to surprise the audience, especially with their seasonal offerings.

Once an annual Hallmark staple, when Christmas movies took off with unprecedented success, autumn favorites took a backseat. This year, the seasonal favorites are back with the unique fall flavor only Hallmark provides.

Centered on three moms from different backgrounds who come together to organize a field day for their kids’ school, Field Day incorporates the back-to-school essence that goes hand-in-hand with autumn.

Winning is thrilled to be a part of the production. “It was a lot of fun to make because it was a little bit different than the standard Hallmark movie,” he remarked.

Field Day has many layers of storytelling, which are perfectly balanced in the script with Winning’s deft directorial hand.

“You’re always trying to create a rich tapestry of a community,” Winning said of the importance of the stories that operate behind the central plot. According to Winning, these auxiliary storylines enrich the primary narrative and make a film’s universe more comprehensive and relatable.

One of Winning’s strengths lies in his collaborations. He’s frequently worked with the same actors, like Ayres and When Calls the Heart star Erin Krakow, and regularly partnered with writers, such as Field Day scribe Julie Sherman Wolfe.

These alliances allow for a unique shorthand in communication, which not only improves the efficiency of their projects but also projects a certain air of comfortability on screen.

While continual joint efforts lead to surprising insights, such as Ayres’s confidence in baking a tasty sourdough bread, Winning also enjoys joining forces with new talent, including Hallmark powerhouses like Tyler Hynes.

Winning had the opportunity to direct Hynes in last year’s Time for Him to Come Home for Christmas, one of the several in the Blake Shelton series that Winning has directed.

Knowing Hynes’s extensive fan base, Winning admitted working with the actor was somewhat intimidating, “but he was wonderful,” he said. The two formed a quick bond, and Winning emphasized the significance of building connections before a shoot.

“He was amazing. We just got along really well. I think he really enjoyed the experience.”

That film showcased a dual romance plot, and Winning took pleasure in weaving the two storylines together, ensuring each held its weight.

“That movie in particular had so much about misunderstandings between the couples, and both couples were just trying to get to the truth, and they never could.”

Winning praised Hynes and his costar, Holland Roden, for their ability to bring the story to light. “They just had a pretty much instant chemistry, which I think showed in the movie.”

Boston and Ayres also share undeniable chemistry on screen. It turns out that Field Day is not their first time acting together, but it is their first time filming on the same set.

Ben Ayres strangely had done a movie with her over the internet by Zoom during Covid,” Winning shared. “When they found out they were going to be doing Field Day together, it was quite funny. They said, ‘Well, we’ve kind of already acted together, but it was online.'”

The most appealing aspect of many Hallmark movies is the genuine bond portrayed between characters. This authentic portrayal of friendship is especially evident in Field Day.

Winning finds that remarkable. “I think the strongest thing that came through for me was the three actresses, Rachel and Shannon, and Carmel just got along so well from the first day of filming.”

Winning compared the flow of the movie to a television pilot. “Wow, there was such a great chemistry with the three leads.”

“They could take off and make a series with these three ladies,” he said, noting, “I think the producers are hoping to try and see if we can do some kind of sequel to this.” We do not doubt that the delightful camaraderie will leave fans eagerly hoping for a potential sequel.

When asked about Field Day, what will most resonate with viewers, Winning believes in the power of authentic human connections. “I think the friendship between the women is just so strong in how it builds… there’s a lot of real tugging heartstrings that hit people kind of in the middle of this movie.”

Before joining the Hallmark family, Winning thought he thoroughly understood passionate fans. Science fiction is known for its enthusiastic audience. He laughed, “But little did I know it’s really been Hallmark Channel that’s taken off!”

He certainly understands the fervor from online events and chats, but he saw fans react to Time for Him to Come Home for Christmas in person when he took it to the Houston Film Festival.

“I remember that being particularly fun because those folks are just so into the movie. I walked into the theater when it was over, and I looked up and said, ‘Anybody not crying?’

“Everybody was in tears. They’re so emotionally connected to the storylines and the people and the actors, and a ton of Tyler fans were there, so it was a lot of fun.”

There’s little doubt of Hallmark’s power to melt even the most frozen heart, and Winning is happy to bring such heartfelt content to people when it’s really needed.

“These movies touch people, and that just makes you feel great. It makes you feel like you’re part of something important,” Winning shared.

“To think that I could maybe produce something or direct something like that that would last forever is just very heartwarming and wonderful. It’s nice to think that you’re going to just keep cheering people up when they need it.”

Field Day premieres on Hallmark Channel on Saturday, October 14 at 8/7c. Don’t miss it!

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