Atlanta’s Kim Fields, after years focused on directing, is now enjoying an on-camera renaissance courtesy of the breakout Netflix comedy hit “The Upshaws” and Christmas movies like her latest: VH1′s “Adventures in Christmasing.”
The film, which comes out Monday at 9 p.m., is part of VH1′s attempt to jump into the Christmas movie spirit, joining everyone from Atlanta-based UPtv to Hallmark to Lifetime to Netflix. There are at least 100 or more original holiday scripted rom-com movies out this year, as one intrepid NPR reporter compiled.
Fields wrote the script with fellow Atlantan Rhonda Baraka (”Pride and Prejudice Atlanta,” “Bobbi Kristina”), who directed her on her last Christmas movie from 2019 “You Light Up My Christmas” on Lifetime featuring a reunion with members of her “The Facts of Life” cast.
>>RELATED: Interview with Kim Fields about the Netflix breakout hit ‘The Upshaws”
In an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Fields said she loves nature adventure shows like “Alone,” “Naked and Afraid,” “Man vs. Wild” and “Running Wild With Bear Grylls.” She decided to meld that genre into a holiday rom-com and make the lead adventurist a person of color to boot.
“I love how people go in the wild and push themselves beyond their limits,” she said. “And you don’t see people of color in this environment that often and doing the things we’re doing.”
As she conceived the idea, she said she wrote the title “Adventures in Christmasing” as a place holder, a play off the film “Adventures in Babysitting.”
“I never dreamed it would end up being the actual title!” she said.
Fields decided to create a character for herself, successful talk show host Parker Baldwin, who likes to know what’s coming and to be thoroughly prepared. She purposely avoided using the term “control freak,” given its negative connotations.
“Parker has had a few curveballs in her lifetime that have put her in this place,” Fields said. “We wanted her to be placed outside her comfort zone.”
The solution: Parker meets survivalist Finn Holt (a very Idris Elba-level sexy Adrian Holmes donning a British accent) on her talk show. Her bosses think it would be a great contractually required TV special for her to spend 72 hours in the woods with Holt. Despite her skepticism, she decides to go for it.
The film spends a bulk of its time out in the Canadian woods, which instantly makes it unique from holiday films frequently set in quaint small towns. (They even had to fly in a Port-O-Potty via helicopter.) Parker and Finn break down each other’s emotional walls as they battle bears, wolves, injuries, lack of food and mysterious caves.
“Holmes and I have natural chemistry,” Fields said. “Some of the scenes were improvised. It really flowed. It felt organic.”
Fields chose to go outside of her own comfort zone as a person and actor as well. Although she had a stunt double at the ready, she did all her own stunts, Tom Cruise style. She rappelled off both a helicopter and a mountainside and spent time in a freezing river to boot.
She also curated the soundtrack, which features a jazzy take on “Jingle Bells” from her “Living Single” buddy Terrence C. Carson and contributions from singer-songwriter Alex Isley, jazz trumpeter Jeremy Pelt and R&B singer Kenny Lattimore.
And as the holidays approach, Fields is prepping to shoot season 2 of “The Upshaws,” in which she plays the beleaguered wife of Mike Epps’s auto mechanic character and younger sister to wise-cracking Wanda Sykes.
“We level up in every possible way,” she teased. “The comedy, the laughs, the realness. Oh snap!”
WHERE TO WATCH
“Adventures in Christmasing,” 9 p.m. Monday, Nov. 29 on VH1