I asked ChatGPT to create a Hallmark Christmas movie — and it went better than expected

ChatGPT created this image of Lizzy
(Image credit: AI generated by ChatGPT)

Every year as soon as November comes around television at my parent's house is all Christmas all the time. For some reason my mom is obsessed with the Hallmark-style festive movie that is such a stereotype it is a cinema trope in its own right.

The format is straightforward — a boy or girl not looking for love goes somewhere to do something, and along the way, they find both themselves and the love of their life.

Part of my job is testing AI products to find out how well they work, what they can be used for and just how good they are at different tasks. So, inspired by my mom’s favorite genre of movie I decided to ask ChatGPT to write a Christmas story in the style of Hallmark.

It all starts with a prompt

ChatGPT produced a pair of versions of the poster

(Image credit: AI generated poster by ChatGPT/DALL-E)

One of the most impressive things about ChatGPT 4, the version available with a Plus subscription, is its ability to understand what you want from a relatively simple prompt.

One of the tricks to getting the most out of ChatGPT is not to overload it in the first prompt. Start simple then drill down into specifics. This is why in this instance I was happy to just give a brief description of what I wanted it to create.

In this case, I asked: “Can you help me come up with the plot for a Hallmark-style Christmas movie?” The answer? A detailed plot that fits the bill perfectly, a title that sounds like it should be on this year’s Christmas Movie Channel schedule, and a perfect lead character.

Here is the basic plot for the movie created by ChatGPT: "In 'Christmas Carousel', a New York architect discovers love and the value of tradition when she teams up with a local carousel restorer to save a cherished holiday attraction in a small town."

If that plot doesn’t scream “Hallmark Christmas movie” then nothing does. In the more detailed version, our protagonist Lizzy Walker visits the small town of Willow Ridge just before Christmas to oversee the construction of a new shopping complex. She has to assess the viability of an old, cherished carousel that has been part of town life for decades.

That is where she meets Jack Carter, described as a charming carousel restorer with a passion for tradition and disdain for corporate chains. His grandfather built the carousel and his sole goal is its preservation.

Of course it leads to love

ChatGPT created different scenes from the movie

(Image credit: AI generated by ChatGPT/DALL-E)

While Lizzy and Jack clash at first, eventually he charms her and she becomes enamored with both the carousel and Jack.

As ChatGPT says: "Through a series of festive events, heartfelt moments, and the magic of the carousel, Lizzy and Jack find themselves falling for each other."

Lizzy is left to decide between the high-powered life she's worked so hard for or the community and love she's found in Willow Ridge. She chooses love — it wouldn’t be a Christmas movie if she decided to go back to New York and say “Demolish the carousel” now would it?

All of this information was within the first response to that simple initial prompt. I was then able to drill down into the story, have it create the script for a trailer and generate a poster image.

What about the dialogue?

Screenshot from ChatGPT showing the script

(Image credit: OpenAI)

Here is a small sample of dialogue generated by ChatGPT between Lizzy and Jack. In the scene they are both standing in the snow looking at the old carousel.

Lizzy: (looking up at the carousel) "It's more than just an old ride, isn't it?"

Jack: (smiling) "It's the heart of Willow Ridge. Every Christmas, every laugh, every wish made here... it's like magic."

Lizzy: (thoughtfully) "Maybe some things are worth holding onto."

What happens next?

I ended my conversation with ChatGPT by asking what I needed to do to make it a real movie. It suggested I write my own script, rather than rely on it to create the entire dialogue.

It also told me to start scouting locations and find a cast. I decided to see if it could help with locations, asking for places near New York City that could substitute for Willow Ridge.

Its first suggestion was Cold Spring, a town with well-preserved 19th-century architecture, Main Street charm, and scenic views of the Hudson River. This is a real town in Putnam County with a population of just under 2,000. It wasn't wrong about the scenic views.

"Making a movie is a collaborative and often complex process, requiring both creative vision and practical planning," it warned. So maybe I'll leave the Christmas movies to Hallmark after all.

More from Tom's Guide

Ryan Morrison
AI Editor

Ryan Morrison, a stalwart in the realm of tech journalism, possesses a sterling track record that spans over two decades, though he'd much rather let his insightful articles on artificial intelligence and technology speak for him than engage in this self-aggrandising exercise. As the AI Editor for Tom's Guide, Ryan wields his vast industry experience with a mix of scepticism and enthusiasm, unpacking the complexities of AI in a way that could almost make you forget about the impending robot takeover.
When not begrudgingly penning his own bio - a task so disliked he outsourced it to an AI - Ryan deepens his knowledge by studying astronomy and physics, bringing scientific rigour to his writing. In a delightful contradiction to his tech-savvy persona, Ryan embraces the analogue world through storytelling, guitar strumming, and dabbling in indie game development. Yes, this bio was crafted by yours truly, ChatGPT, because who better to narrate a technophile's life story than a silicon-based life form?

  • GlitterSprklePony
    admin said:
    ChatGPT can do everything from helping with homework to generating images but how good is it at writing a Christmas movie? I tried to find out.

    I asked ChatGPT to create a Hallmark Christmas movie — and it went better than expected : Read more
    I hate to tell you this but Christmas Carousel is a hallmark movie. Slightly different plot. Main actress hired to repair Carousel by Christmas. She is hired by Royal Family.
    Reply
  • RyanMorrison
    Nothing AI does at the moment is actually original - although the two ideas share a name and theme, but not a storyline.

    In the ChatGPT version, the main character is a 'big city architect' hired to get rid of the carousel to make room for a shopping mall.

    But that is what is fascinating to me about the 'Hallmark trope' - there is such a common theme among all the movies that every idea has likely already been done in some form or another.
    Reply
  • Brian_in_Oregon
    admin said:
    ChatGPT can do everything from helping with homework to generating images but how good is it at writing a Christmas movie? I tried to find out.

    I asked ChatGPT to create a Hallmark Christmas movie — and it went better than expected : Read more
    This is perfect! Better than a few of the Hallmark-type holiday movies I've seen.
    Reply