This piece is part of our GVLtoday Q+A series. Do you know someone we should interview? Nominate them here.
‘Tis the season for Hallmark movies, and two Greenvillians have made a living watching every single one. Brandon “Bran” Gray (who loves the movies) + Dan Thompson (who despises the movies) started “Deck the Hallmark.” Five years later, and they’ve made the podcast their full-time jobs.
We sat down with “The Guys” to talk about what they love most about our city + why we live in the perfect Hallmark Christmas town.
How did “Deck the Hallmark” start?
Bran: It was spring of 2018, and — I’m just such a big Christmas fan — and so in that March/April season Christmas seems to far away so I was watching Hallmark Christmas movies. I was looking for podcasts to listen to to hold me over and I couldn’t really find one. So I called Dan because I knew that Dan would, most likely, hate these movies, and I thought that would be funny to make him do it. We started doing some trial episodes in July 2018, hit the ground running in October of 2018, and then we went on Good Morning America in November 2018, and that kind of changed everything for us.
What are the things about Greenville that you think would make it perfect for a Hallmark Christmas movie?
Dan: Well Main Street’s already done. You save money on set decoration. You don’t have to really do much because it’s already pretty much perfect. These movies, the Main Streets that they use are trash and they just try to make ‘em quaint, and our Main Street is literally perfect for it.
Bran: Yeah, it’s the perfect Main Street and it’s, like, literally pulled out of hallmark.
Dan: And a lot of our lights are up year round.
Bran: Yeah, almost all of them. Dan: So they could just, you know, you could film it in February and you could still make it Christmas pretty easily. Also, you could use, and this is crazy, a wide shot. Like on these Main Streets in the Hallmark movies, they have to go close up because if they widen out, it’s like, you realize this is just July in British Columbia and this town’s so tiny.
In Greenville, you could use some really fun, wide shots: the waterfalls, the suspension bridge. I mean, there is literally City Hall right beside a skating rink. Like why do I have to pitch this anymore? Ice skating rink, City Hall. Hallmark, how have you not? Every time we bring up one of those Hallmark stars, if we get them to Greenville, they’re like, “Look at this man, this makes sense.”
Give us a synopsis of a Hallmark movie shot in Greenville?
Dan: The thing about Greenville is it is the quintessential Hallmark town. It would be something to do with the waterfall or the Bohemian Lodge or the Westin maybe… Oh dude, the Westin would be good. There’s this guy who’s been working there for years and has Christmas magic and they stay at the Westin one night.
Bran: She gets coffee at Spill the Beans and is walking across the suspension bridge and they bump into each other. The coffee goes down, she’s like, “What the heck?” The next day they’re on Ice on Main and they see each other and they’re like, “You!”
Dan: There has to be a scene where one of them is a big time business boy or girl at City Hall and the other one’s like, “Just stop what you’re doing, come ice skating.” 'Cause it’s right there. They’re in City Hall, it’s like, “Why don’t we just go ice skating?” He’s like, “No, I don’t have time for it, blah blah blah.”
Bran: Well, it could be something like someone’s fighting to make the tree in front of M. Judson a real tree, or something like that. Dan: I like the fountain having some sort of Christmas magic in it in front of the Westin, that would be fun.
What’s something every Greenvillian should know about?
Bran: Have you seen the tree in the Westin lobby? Dan: Oh my gosh, they’re hiding that! Bran: I don’t know how they’re not promoting that.
Dan: It’s probably 25-ft tall. It’s a real tree. They brought it in on a pickup truck. They had six people loading it in. It’s massive. They actually cut the top off and they put this big bow at the top because it’s all the way to the ceiling in their lobby.
Bran: It’s gotta be the biggest real tree in Greenville.
Dan: There’s the historic entrance where the fountain is. You go in there and you just go up the half stairs to the lobby.
Bran: They have this video of them pulling it, trying to get the tree through the door up the stairs ‘cause it’s kind of like a weird angle. Dan: It’s massive. It is so impressive.
Describe your perfect (holiday) day in Greenville in the length of a Tweet.
Dan: My family, we go to the farmers market every Saturday morning, so when the Christmas market comes back it’s a big deal for our family. And then we will probably go ice skating. My kids freaking love to go ice skating. Then we’ll go see some trees, so we’ll do the Hyatt trees and we’ll do the Westin tree as well. Then we’ll get the peppermint hot chocolate ice cream at Clare’s Creamery, which is phenomenal. Ooh, and this year we’re also going to the Roper Mountain Science Center to the Trans Siberian Orchestra laser show.
Bran: We will go check out the Gingerbread Houses, and then we’ll go ice skating and to the Festival of Trees at the Hyatt, and then I like to just go into M. Judson — I don’t read, but I just like the vibe. It’s very homey in there. Then we’ll go and at the Regal on the weekends they’re replaying classic Christmas movies so we’ll go watch a Christmas movie.