Denver screenwriter forgoes bloody past, makes feel-good holiday film

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Photo: 'Christmastime' filming
Boulder's Pearl Street Mall is one of the many Colorado scenes captured in the new holiday film "Christmastime."

Denver screenwriter Rick Ramage's latest work, “Heaven Sent,” harkens back to the warm sentimentality of 1940s films like “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Miracle on 34th Street." His film, which is set in Boulder, stands in stark contrast to his earlier pieces. Ramage is known for thriller and horror scripts, including 1999's “Stigmata” and an early 2000s television series, the “Haunted.”

Ramage says he wanted to make a Christmas film that was uplifting, noting a trend lately in holiday films with a gloomy, even cynical, mood. He partnered with director and producer Michael Landon Jr. to do so.

“I think what inspired us to do a Christmas movie is we got tired of seeing this dark take on Christmas,” Ramage says. “I get tired of seeing the drunk Santa Claus and that kind of thing.”

“Heaven Sent" won't come out in theaters until the 2015 holiday season.

It's $3.5-million budget, makes it the biggest budget movie filmed in the state since the Colorado Film Incentives Program began in 2012, according to state film commissioner Donald Zuckerman.

The film is about a couple on the eve of the day they intend to sign their divorce papers. The husband and wife are looking for a sign they are making the right decision. So they pray and an 8-year-old angel answers them.

Despite this film’s thematic departure from the bloody genres for which Ramage is known, the approach writing was much the same, he says.

“I don’t see them as that far apart because, as a writer, my intention is basically to search for God,” Ramage says. "And that doesn’t mean I have any answers.”

After shopping the script around for awhile, Ramage and Landon landed with Cantinas Entertainment, a faith-oriented production company. Still, Ramage is hesitant to label “Heaven Sent” as a faith-based film.

“I see it as a very family-oriented film,” Ramage says. “Michael and I take no position as far as religion goes.”

He adds that the film's theme of a couple struggling with their marriage is one to which anybody can relate.

“They aren’t cured by any religious philosophy,” Ramage says. “They’re cured by going back to the basics of love.”

Click the audio above to hear Ramage’s full interview with CPR arts editor Chloe Veltman.

**Editor's note: A previous version of this story misstated the name of the film. The name of the film was changed to "Heaven Sent" on December 19.