Premiering Nov. 5, the holiday rom-com is the first scripted film to shoot on the island of Guam

By Aurelie Corinthios
October 07, 2020 10:03 AM
Credit: Ricardo Hubbs//NETFLIX

Allow Netflix to transport you to the Pacific Ocean island of Guam this holiday season.

PEOPLE can exclusively announce that Operation Christmas Drop will premiere Nov. 5. Starring Kat Graham, Alexander Ludwig and Virginia Madsen, the rom-com is the first movie to shoot in the U.S. territory.

Here's the synopsis: "Chasing a promotion, congressional aide Erica Miller forgoes family Christmas to travel across the Pacific at her boss's behest. Upon landing at a beachside Air Force base, she clashes with her guide, Captain Andrew Jantz, who knows her assignment is finding reasons to defund the facility. The pilot's pet project — Operation: Christmas Drop, a genuine, decades-old tradition where gifts and supplies are parachuted to residents of remote neighboring islands — has lawmakers wondering if his unit has too much spare energy. Despite their initial opposing goals, Erica softens once she experiences the customs and communal spirit of Andrew's adopted home."

Credit: Ricardo Hubbs//NETFLIX
Credit: Ricardo Hubbs//NETFLIX

Written by Gregg Rossen and Brian Sawyer, the movie was directed by Martin Wood and produced by Brad Krevoy and Steve McGlothen. Amanda Phillips Atkins, Jimmy Townsend, Eric Jarboe and Amy Krell served as executive producers.

It's the second Netflix Christmas rom-com for Vampire Diaries alum Graham, 31, who starred in 2018's The Holiday Calendar, also produced by Kevoy. The actress says she loved the "humanitarian aspect" of this particular script.

"I love the fact that it was about a real mission that the Air Force does every year," she says. "I loved that I was playing a congresswoman's aide, [working] to shut down the mission. In a lot of ways it was the opposite to our last film, as this character was a bit of a Grinch. It was so much fun to read, and even more fun to shoot. It's the most fun I have ever had on a set."

Credit: Ricardo Hubbs//NETFLIX
Credit: Bettina Strauss//NETFLIX

As for being the first major project to shoot on the island? Both Graham and Ludwig, 28, agree it was a unique experience.

"The best part of shooting in Guam was always being close to the water and really shooting in paradise," Graham says. "The challenges of shooting in Guam was that there has never been a scripted film that has ever shot there before. We were the first, and it definitely felt like it. Thank God for a great producer!"

Says Ludwig, "Guam was such a cool experience — I mean, when else would I ever get a chance to go there? Best part, hands down, was experiencing life on the base and getting to know the island. Challenge had to be the heat."

Credit: Ricardo Hubbs//NETFLIX
Credit: Ricardo Hubbs//NETFLIX

Working on a fully functioning Air Force Base was surreal, to say the least. "The security was incredibly tight on the base," Graham says. "There were jets flying above our heads while we were shooting scenes. It was one of the most remarkable experiences I've ever had."

"We had so much fun flying around with the actual Air Force," she says. "It was super badass."

Ludwig admits this isn't his typical line of work, but he's proud of what they produced.

"I felt that it would be so great to be a part of something that everyone could watch and just feel good about afterwards," he explains. "The world needs love right now. It's such a beautiful thing they are doing overseas and I was humbled to be able to shed a light on it."

"A big shout-out to the men and women who help with the drop every year," he adds. "Over 50,000 pounds of humanitarian aid is dropped to people living on some of the most remote islands on the planet, and without them, these people wouldn't be able to get by. It's amazing what they do."

Credit: Ricardo Hubbs//NETFLIX
Credit: Ricardo Hubbs//NETFLIX

In their downtime, the cast and crew made the most of their surroundings.

"We all took a boat to a nearby island and went jet skiing, that was a blast," Ludwig says. "Me and a few of the service men and women actually did a hike with their kids in the jungle and we had to trek through a river to get out because we got lost. It definitely made for a fun story."

"I loved exploring the island and found really cool watering holes and secluded beaches," Graham adds. "The people were so special and amazing. Guam is definitely one of my favorite places in the world."

Credit: Ricardo Hubbs//NETFLIX
Credit: Ricardo Hubbs//NETFLIX

Both hope the movie brings viewers some much-needed comfort and joy this holiday season.

"It's a reminder that amongst all this craziness, there are good people doing good things in this world all the time," Ludwig says. "And this film celebrates that."

Operation Christmas Drop releases globally Nov. 5. on Netflix.

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