With Countdown to Christmas on Hallmark Channel and Miracles of Christmas on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries, Crown Media has long laid claim to holiday TV programming. Now it is expanding its empire, airing a movie produced specifically for its streaming service, Hallmark Movies Now.
Every Time a Bell Rings stars Erin Cahill, Brittany Ishibashi, and Ali Liebert as sisters who return home to the city of Natchez, Mississippi, for Christmas. While reminiscing over holiday traditions the women find a note from their father, who recently passed away, sending them on a scavenger hunt to find a wooden bell they always ring on Christmas.
The women grab their old bicycles and pedal all over the city uncovering clues as they search for the bell.
In many ways, the movie is a love letter to the city, according to the actors who starred in it.
“It’s its own character in itself,” said Wes Brown in an interview to promote the movie.
“I hope the viewers fall in love with Natchez as much as we did,” Liebert said.
Every Time a Bell Rings was shot in August. According to Cahill, who starred in and produced the film, it is one of the only Hallmark Christmas movies ever made that does not feature snow.
The timing of the shoot created some chaos since late summer is prime hurricane season in the gulf. When Hurricane Ida hit land on August 29, parts of Natchez lost power and shooting was put on hold. The cast and directors ended up delivering food to people affected by the storm, according to Cahill.
Music also features prominently in the movie. In one of the final moments of the film, the sisters and their friend Liam (played by Brown) come together to sing in front of the entire town. The song they perform, “Natchez Christmas Eve,” was written by Brown himself.
“As Bob Ross would say, it was a happy little accident,” Brown said.
When producers couldn’t find music they liked, Brown volunteered to write some. An accomplished musician with his own Christmas album, Brown wrote a song that his co-stars claim is both catchy and beautiful.
“I sing it around the kitchen all the time,” Ishibashi said.
Though there is a romance in the movie between Cahill and Brown, the real love story is between the sisters, Cahill said.
“My wish is that the viewers feel just some of what we felt while we were filming this,” she said. “I hope the viewers feel the love and the connection in their bones.”
Every Time a Bell Rings is available to stream on Hallmark Movies Now.