8 Things You Didn’t Know
by Denise Hunter
Last spring I signed an option with a producer who wanted to make one of my books, The Convenient Groom, into a Hallmark movie. To say I was excited is an understatement. I tried to temper my enthusiasm. After all, a lot can happen between signing an option and the actual film debut. I’m friends with enough authors who’ve experienced the big letdown. I’d even experienced it once before myself. So I crossed my fingers, said a lot of prayers, and waited patiently. Okay, maybe not so patiently.
Then in March I was notified that filming on The Convenient Groom was soon to begin. The movie was really happening! As I began sharing the news I found that writers and readers alike are curious about the book-to-movie process. So I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned along the way.
- I’m sure there are many ways producers “find” novels. In my case it was through my publisher. The rights department actively pitches their novels for film rights. As it happens, this particular production company had already optioned a couple of other books and made them into Hallmark movies, so there was already an established history between my publisher and the production company. Yay for me!
- Authors sometimes want to know how to write a book that appeals to production companies. If you watch Hallmark movies then you know most of the stories have compelling hooks. Here’s the hook for The Convenient Groom:
A celebrity relationship expert with a best-selling book about finding Mr. Right finds herself jilted just before her highly publicized wedding. In a panic she accepts the offer of a contractor—who secretly loves her—to step in as the groom in order to save her career.
If you’re aiming for Hallmark it also doesn’t hurt to utilize one of the popular romance tropes. They’re popular for a reason. The Convenient Groom is, of course, a modern day marriage of convenience story.
- Unless your name is Nicholas Sparks or Nora Roberts, an author probably can’t expect to have much, if any, input in the film itself. Film is a completely different medium than a novel, and sometimes what works well in print doesn’t work at all on the screen. Fortunately I knew this up front, and was quite happy to let the film people work their magic.
- Along those lines, I’m often asked if I wrote the screenplay for the movie. Just like novel writing, screenwriting is a craft that takes years to hone. I wouldn’t know the first thing about writing a screenplay, and since I want “my” movie to turn out great . . . well, I’ll just leave it in the experts’ hands.
- Many books are optioned for movies, but few of them actually get made. There are a lot of steps between the movie option and the film premier, not the least of which is funding. It’s exciting to have a book optioned for a film, but you can’t really count on the movie happening until filming is underway.
- Getting a book turned into a TV movie is a slow process. I signed the movie option in March of 2015, and The Convenient Groom will air June 18, 2016. That may seem to fairly quick to you, but for an author waiting for her book to come alive on screen, it’s excruciatingly slow. And I was sworn to secrecy until the very end. It was hard to keep my exciting news to myself.
- A TV movie is also a quick process. While the matters of funding, screenwriting, and hiring actors and crew can take months, the actual filming of the movie is FAST. A Hallmark movie takes only about 3 weeks to film! Amazing. The cast and crew put in some long hours!
- Most Hallmark movies are filmed in and around Vancouver, Canada. The vast diversity of Vancouver’s landscape make for a perfect movie set, whether the movie is “set” in Nantucket (like mine) or New York. But the main reason many movies and TV series are filmed there has to do with cost. Canadian labor laws are much friendlier to the pocketbook than are the United States’.
You’re invited to my Live Facebook Party!
Read The Convenient Groom and join Denise Hunter for a book club discussion on June 16!
She’s giving away 25 signed copies of her new release, The Goodbye Bride and a $100 Amazon card!
And don’t forget to mark your calendars for June 18:
The Convenient Groom, a World Premiere Original Hallmark Movie!