The winter holiday season is approaching, but with the COVID-19 pandemic still raging, we may all have more time at home to watch movies on-demand. One new option, to be released on December 4, is Tello Films’ latest production, I Hate New Year’s. 

While the title may not initially evoke holiday warmth, Tello Films, which specializes in stories about lesbian and queer women, bills this feature-length film as a romantic comedy. The film’s director, Christin Baker, said, “I have always wanted to do a movie that takes place all in one day, and I think New Year’s Eve is so iconic.” 

Tello Films is headquartered in Nashville, and that’s where I Hate New Year’s is set, as well. “There were a few years where my friend group would rent a limo and hop from party to party and end up downtown Nashville for the countdown,” Baker said. “It was so fun because we never had to worry about parking or a designated driver.”  

Baker wanted to capture some of this fun and began brainstorming with a team that included screenplay writer Kathryn Trammell. “I thought, what would be a New Year’s that would cause someone to go all over town,” Baker pondered, “and I thought of chasing an ex and having great music, since it’s Nashville.” 

Once the script was written and the songs were developed, Baker began casting actors, starting with Ashley Argota, who plays the role of Cassie Holmes, best friend to musician Layne Price. “She had a great audition tape,” Baker said of Argota, “and her voice is amazing.” 

Next came actor Dia Frampton, in the role of Layne. “My fantastic casting director Julie Gale pitched Dia for a movie before this so she was always on our radar,” Baker said. “We asked her to put herself on tape and she was fantastic.” 

Both actors jumped at the chance to be part of this project. “My manager sent me an audition for I Hate New Year’s at the beginning of the year and the scenes they sent me just resonated with me,” Argota said. “Sometimes when I get scenes for auditions, I have to take a little time to think about the character and what I’d like to do with it. For I Hate New Year’s, I knew who Cassie was immediately.”

Frampton, meanwhile, got the call while on tour with her band, Meg & Dia. “Any chance to act and be a part of a story is always a yes for me,” she said. “I love holiday films and being a part of a queer holiday love story sounded amazing to me.” 

When Frampton heard that Argota was on board, that was another plus. “When I learned that there was another Asian American woman in the film as my co-star I was ecstatic,” she said. “You don’t see many movies with Asian American leads, let alone two together.”

Both performers found the drive and passion of their characters to be inspiring. “I love how Layne chases after what she wants,” Frampton said of this musician who is a bit obsessed with her ex-girlfriend. “She can get confused and stuck in her feelings of uncertainty, but as soon as she realizes what she’s after, she goes all in.” 

Argota discovered the same in her character Cassie’s focus on Layne, her long-time friend for whom she has developed a romantic interest. “I love her love for life and for her best friend,” Argota said. “I love that she loves hard, and that she’s brave enough to be vulnerable for love.”

And love was present, Argota felt, both on- and off-screen during the film’s production. “The most interesting thing I learned during production was how wonderful a set can be when it’s inclusive and collaborative,” she said. “Our cast and crew was diverse in so many different ways and we all just wanted to make a great movie.” 

This diversity resonated for Frampton too. “It was pretty incredible to go to set and be surrounded by so many powerful women,” she said. “Representation matters. Being able to see yourself reflected back on-screen matters.”

Playing a lead role with an intersectional identity was particularly meaningful. “For so long, Asian Americans have been the side character, or the stereotype, and it was really important for me to be a part of a different narrative for us, where we can just be human,” Frampton said.  “I have three queer sisters, and they are so excited for this movie. It’s not very often at all that they see themselves reflected on-screen as the main characters, so this love story is for them.”

It’s no surprise to the film’s director that the two lead actors are in agreement on these points. “Their chemistry on-screen is fantastic and they were wonderful off-screen as well,” Baker said. “They are such generous actresses and are willing to have fun and play.” 

Argota believes the film’s audience deserves to play too. “2020 has felt like the longest year ever,” she said. 

Frampton empathizes with that sentiment. “I know a lot of people won’t be able to travel and visit their families this year due to the pandemic, and I’m very sorry about that,” she said.  “It’s going to be a hard time away from our loved ones.”

But the I Hate New Year’s team hopes to offer a brief respite from our winter doldrums. “I think everyone is ready for a heartfelt, feel-good rom-com, which is exactly what our movie is,” Argota said. “It’s honest, has so much heart, and radiates love and positivity, and I think we could all use a little bit more of that right now.”

I Hate New Year’s will be released on December 4: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt11441606/   

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