In Conversation With… Hallmark Channel’s ‘The Perfect Bride’ Screenwriter Rick Garman

From writing plays and travel guides to writing novels and TV movies, Rick Garman has truly traversed the world of the written word.

His work seems to have focused in on screenwriting for the time being, with his next TV movie, The Perfect Bride starring When Calls The Heart‘s Pascale Hutton and Kavan Smith, premiering this Saturday (June 10) on Hallmark Channel!

While it may feel like we’ve been waiting for this June Weddings movie for a while now (just because it looks *so* good), we haven’t been waiting nearly as long as Rick has for his movies to makes its way to our screens. Screenwriting has been a long way coming for him, but this is now his fourth movie and he shows no signs of stopping.

Having made his way to screenwriting later on in his life, it’s only fitting that Rick’s first movie was called Late Bloomer. In the end, it doesn’t matter how long it took for him to find his way here because we’re all just so glad that he did.

If he hadn’t, then we wouldn’t have the Taylor Cole/Michael Rady-starrer Christmas in Homestead, Italia Ricci and Madison Pettis‘ Late Bloomer, the almost-here The Perfect Bride, or all the TV movies to come!

Lucky for all of us Millennial Hallmarkers, Rick has not only given us the gift of these romantic and fun TV movies, but he also kindly agreed to an email interview, giving us a glimpse into our favorite world, that of the rom-com.

Keep reading to get all the intel on your favorite HEA-filled, Rick Garman-written  past and future films set to air on both Hallmark Channel and PixL (including this Saturday’s (June 10) Hallmark premiere of The Perfect Bride), what it takes to make it in the industry, and his thoughts on sequels!

MH: You wrote plays, travel guides, and novels before starting your career in screenwriting, what’s your favorite part of each of these different types of writing?

RG: The great thing about plays is the immediate response and interactivity with an audience and a cast both in rehearsals and as it is being performed. During rehearsals you get to hear the dialogue, see the transitions, and get a deeper feel for the characters, tweaking things (or sometimes completely redoing them) as you go. Then when you get the audience in there, you can hear what is working and what isn’t and react accordingly by the next night.

Travel writing is fun because you get to go places to do it and do fun things that you probably otherwise would not have. During the past 20 years writing about Las Vegas, I got to drive race cars, go back stage tours of shows, eat fantastic meals, and more… I once even got “kidnapped” by David Copperfield (it’s a long story). There are downsides… it’s a lot of work, often requiring 16-20 hour days, and it’s hard to keep up with a place that changes so often, but it can be a lot fun.

Screenwriting is all about the magic of the movies. Seeing the Herculean effort that goes into making a production like these is awe-inspiring and, I have to admit, there is nothing in the world like seeing your name on the screen.

MH: How did you make the move into screenwriting? And, more specifically, into writing TV movies for PixL and Hallmark?

RG: It was one of those friend of a friend type things. The folks at PixL would send out calls for story ideas surrounding titles they were interested in developing and an agent that was a friend of my former writing partner sometimes threw them my way. One of those was “Late Bloomer” and they picked my idea. They liked the result so much they have had me write several more and that was what got me in the door at Hallmark.

MH: Your next movie, The Perfect Bride, premieres on Hallmark on June 10. What’s your favorite quote from the movie? Favorite scene?

RG: That’s tough to say. I haven’t seen the final product – I’ll be seeing it right along with everyone else on June 10 – and so I’m a little hesitant to pick anything specific because there’s a chance it may not have made it into the final cut. Having seen the clips and the trailer, I will say there’s a very cute meeting between the two leads and the line “Nice to be forced to meet you.” It sort of immediately sets up the dynamic between them, which is playful and fun. As far as a scene… there’s a moment toward the end that I won’t ruin but it involves Nick, played by Kavan Smith, picking the exact wrong time to make an entrance.

MH: Writers aren’t usually involved in casting, so how did you like the casting in this movie of Pascale Hutton and Kavan Smith?

RG: I have to admit before they were cast, I wasn’t familiar with “When Calls the Heart¸” but I checked it out and they seem perfect together. I’ve seen some of the footage from “The Perfect Bride¸” and they have a great chemistry that obviously comes from working together before and liking each other a lot. I’m very excited about it.

MH: Hallmark has been announcing quite a few sequels lately? Could there be any sequels to The Perfect Bride, Christmas in Homestead, or Sound of Christmas? Which one would you most like to write a sequel to and what do you imagine happening?

RG: I think “The Perfect Bride” and “Christmas in Homestead” probably offer the best sequel potential. I can’t go into too much detail on the former since it hasn’t aired yet and ideas about a sequel might ruin how the first one ends. But sufficed to say that since the main character Molly runs a Bridal Boot Camp, there are lots of great wedding stories that could come out of that. And if we were to visit Homestead again, I think that our movie star Jessica would probably be torn over a big career opportunity that could test her relationship with Mayor Matt. And maybe there’s another movie star that might be thinking of giving up the fast lane for a simpler life like Jessica did?

MH: Your first movie, Late Bloomer, aired on PixL last August. Did you come up with this story and write it, or were you given the plot and asked to write the script? Which of those is usually the case with the movies you’ve written?

RG: As mentioned above, “Late Bloomer” was given to me as just that title and I came up with the story. The other three that I have done for PixL were rewrites of existing scripts. For Hallmark, it’s a combination of original stories that I submitted, stories ideas they have that they needed someone to write, or rewrites of existing scripts.

MH: That movie is by far my favorite PixL film to date. The writing is fabulous, the film’s quality overall is wonderful, and the cast did a great job. Would you ever want to do a sequel with the original cast? What do you think would happen?

RG: Thank you for that – I love that movie, too and I sort of feel like the story of “Late Bloomer” is pretty well wrapped up. We saw the flower bloom at the end and, if you believe the legend, it means that Jenny and Shane have found true love. I would hate to mess with that by trying to add more to the story. Besides, I know Italia [Ricci] is pretty busy these days with “Designated Survivor” (which I love!). But never say never. Who knows… maybe there’s a class reunion that they all need to attend?

MH: You have three movies coming soon to PixL – Same Time Next Week, Bad Date Chronicles, Once Upon a Date – what do you enjoy most about writing movies for PixL and how did you get involved with them? Unlike Hallmark, PixL doesn’t seem to update much or give fans any notice as to when their movies will air; do you know when any of these movies will premiere?

RG: I am just as out of the loop as you are! All I know is that all three are supposed to be airing sometime this year. They were filmed back to back last spring so they may be all arriving on PixL in the same fashion. I enjoy working on the PixL films a lot – the development team there is a lot of fun to work with and they have been big cheerleaders of me and my writing.

MH: Were you able to visit any of the movie sets for the movies you’ve written? If so, which ones? Which of the movies’ stars did you get to meet and what was it like to see them bring your characters to life?

RG: I have managed to make it to three of the movie sets. I visited “Late Bloomer” on the night they were filming my favorite scene in the movie – the little bit of wish fulfillment when the reformed bully Shane apologizes to the girl he teased, Jenny.  It was a thrill because it was the first movie of mine that was ever being made. I also visited the set of “Once Upon a Date,” which was a lot of fun. I got to be an extra in a crowd scene that happens at the very end of the movie – watch for me coming out of the theater!

But the most exciting was probably visiting the set of “Christmas in Homestead,” which was filmed in October of last year in the small town of Dahlonega, Georgia. It was surreal driving into this little town and seeing the town square and entire blocks done with artificial snow and Christmas decorations. I kept looking around thinking, “all this because of something that came out of my head!” It’s weird.

I did get to meet all of the casts for those three films and they were all lovely. Since I spent a couple of days on the Homestead location I talked to Taylor Cole and Michael Rady several times and they were really very kind to the awe-struck writer. Watching them say my words, again, was strange but exciting.

MH: Had you watched a lot of TV movies prior to writing them? What’s your all-time favorite rom-com TV movie and why? Why do you think there are so few rom-coms nowadays?

RG: I’m a TV junkie, but hadn’t watched a lot of TV movies prior to writing them. I certainly did my homework once I started, but I think you can find rom-com themes in a lot of the best TV shows out there. Isn’t “Friends” basically a 10-season rom-com between Ross and Rachel (and Chandler and Monica)? Same with “Gilmore Girls” and Luke and Lorelei.

And theatrical rom-coms have always been a favorite. “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” “Notting Hill,” “Sleepless in Seattle,” “When Harry Met Sally,” “All of Me,” “16 Candles,” “Enchanted”… I could go on and on.

There certainly are a lot of rom-coms on channels like Hallmark and PixL, but I think the reason they aren’t as omnipresent in theaters these days is partly because of changing audience tastes (everyone seems to want heroes these days instead of regular Janes and Joes falling in love) and the economics of making movies, which seems to demand bigger stories.

MH: What are you working on now? Any info on new movies you are working on? What about your new novel?

RG: I’m writing several new movies for Hallmark and PixL. It’s a lot of fun to work with them – everyone has been so kind and complimentary to me. And working for a place like Hallmark Channel is tremendously edifying. I can’t tell you how many times people say to me, “I love the Hallmark Channel! I watch all of their movies!”

I have a few other projects making the rounds including a horror themed TV show and a couple of theatrical movies. And I am very excited to finally be back to working on the second novel in the Interitas series. It was supposed to come out last year but I got a little busy with the TV movies and everything else. I’m hoping to have it released this fall!

MH: Which movie did you have the hardest time writing and why?

RG: I’m a bit leery to say this – don’t want to jinx anything – but I didn’t have a hard time writing any of them. They were all fun stories and once I got the voices of the characters figured out, they just seemed to flow. “Late Bloomer” and “Christmas in Homestead” probably took the longest and had the most changes along the way, but a lot of that was because it was the first ones I was writing for PixL and Hallmark and a big part of that was getting used to new people and the variations in style and format that exist between the two companies.

MH: What’s your advice for someone that wants to get in the screenwriting business?

RG: First, keep writing, even if you aren’t getting paid to do it. I started writing about 25 years ago and had some early success with the plays that were produced in the 1990s and some “almost” successes in the 2000s with some TV shows that came very close to getting made at several networks. It wasn’t until recently that I have become self-sustaining as a writer but during all of that I never stopped writing and now when I meet with a producer and they say, “What else do you have?” or “I’d really like to do something about x, y or z” I can pull out scripts or treatments or idea that fit the bill. And if nothing else, writing is great therapy! If only people would follow the script more often in real life.

Second, write until you’re done and only then allow yourself to go back and read what you have done. It’s too easy to get caught in a loop of second-guessing yourself if you constantly go back to read scenes or chapters while you’re working on something and then you never finish.

MH: At Millennial Hallmarker, we believe that TV movies aren’t a guilty pleasure, simply a pleasure. Do you believe that? What do you have to say to people who don’t understand why you would want to write a TV movie or watch one?

RG: I was just in Chicago and I took an architectural walking tour with some folks from Baltimore. When I told them about the Hallmark movies, one of the ladies said to me, “you know, you’re doing a great service.” I sort of shook my head and asked, “How?” She said “In times like these you need movies like this.”

The more I thought about it, the more I realized how right she was. There are a lot of horrors in the world today and movies like “The Perfect Bride” are like comfort food. You know it’s going to have likeable characters who aren’t trying to solve the problems of the world, they’re just trying to find the right person and – spoiler alert! – you know it’s going to have a happy ending!

And that’s what’s so great about doing these projects with Hallmark. Not only do I get to work with cool people and great casts and crews, the films are so popular that they reach a lot of people. If I can provide a couple of hours of escapism for folks, then I have done my job.

MH: Is there anything else you’d like to add or tell fans about your movie, the cast, Hallmark Channel, PixL, or yourself?

RG: I hope everyone enjoys “The Perfect Bride,” airing Saturday, June 10 at 9/8c on Hallmark Channel. I had a lot of fun writing it and I’m excited for the debut.

If you want to learn more about me or check out the other stuff I’m writing, you can visit my website at rickgarman.com or follow me on Twitter @rickgarmanink or Facebook facebook.com/rickgarmanink. Thank you!

Be sure to catch Hallmark Channel’s new “June Weddings” movie The Perfect Bride on June 10 at 9/8c!

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