Hallmark film writer and CT resident explains why so many people are set in Connecticut


Julie Sherman Wolfe always knew she wanted to live in New England. The Hallmark Channel screenwriter did what she did on screen for twenty TV movies: she had a happy ending. After visiting a cousin in Simsbury, Wolfe, who lived in Los Angeles, fell in love with the Farmington Valley and moved to Avon. Five years later, she discovers that her Russian grandfather first lived in Ansonia before moving to San Francisco. “I didn’t realize how connected I had to Connecticut until I got here. “

When she can, Wolfe tries to put his films in Connecticut. “Taking a Shot at Love,” for example, featured a hockey player in a fictional Avon. Although it was filmed in Vancouver, Canada, viewers in Connecticut were able to enjoy the Wolfpack gear featured in the film. In an artistic life-mimicking moment, this film’s fictional Avon Winterfest will now take place in real life in December in Avon, thanks to the work of some local Hallmark Channel enthusiasts. “A royal feast,” the new Christmas movie from last year, was shot in Putnam and is set in Kentsbury, a fictional mix of Kent and Simsbury.

“One Royal Holiday” was filmed in Woodstock, Putnam and Hartford

© 2020 Crown Media United States LLC / Photographer: Robert Clark

While a Jew writing Christmas movies may seem odd, Wolfe and his family love Christmas culture. “We are truly the Jewish family that loves Christmas,” she said, noting that her husband wrote a children’s book called “Shmelf the Hanukkah Elf”.

Wolfe is working hard on next year’s Christmas movie when we meet in the summer heatwave. “It’s always Christmas in July in my world,” she says. As for the Grinches who poop on the Hallmark Channel movies, she offers this: “They make people so happy, especially the last couple of years. It’s a place they can go and they know it’s gonna work out. It is an idealized world. This job for Hallmark is the most satisfying for me professionally because of the effect it has had.

Wolfe made his sitcom debut – “Dweebs,” “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “3rd Rock from the Sun,” to name a few – but his focus over the past eight years has been to write scripts for Hallmark Channel. She has a new Christmas movie, “You, me and the Christmas trees“, which debuts Oct. 22 at 8 p.m. When we speak, she’s writing her 20th film Hallmark.

When you were asked what you wanted to be later, what was your response?

A writer. But I started out as a copywriter. If you didn’t grow up in the industry, it hasn’t occurred to you that writing other stuff could be a career. I did stand-up at the same time and was dumped and fired the same day. I decided to do stand-up that night. An actor was there and he was a writer for “Roseanne”. He said, ‘You’re funny. Why don’t you do sitcoms? ‘ I moved to LA and hit the sidewalk.

You debuted on sitcoms like Everyone loves Raymond. What were some of your favorite parts of writing for sitcoms?

Best of all, it’s not a solo career. You are sitting around a table with funny, loud people trying to make people laugh all day. The hours are crazy. It’s not something I could maintain when I wanted to start a family. So I started to switch to different genres like TV movies.

How is film writing different from sitcom writing?

With movies, you have more time. In a sitcom, you have 22 minutes to tell a story. We have 85-86 minutes. This gives you time to develop the characters.

What do you love about writing Hallmark scripts?

Romantic comedy is not easy. I love the genre. I love to write cute personals. I like to write jokes between two people when they fall in love. The challenge is always to try to find an original way to get to the end, which we all know is going to be happy, and yet surprise the audience a bit too… If you develop a good enough character, all the dialogue comes from there. character, not just the rom-com tropes. It’s my goal every time.

How involved are you in producing your scripts?

Once a pitch is approved, I write a 10-15 page outline of where I’m going with the story. This is approved. Then I write TV. It can stay there for a year or two until they’re ready or it can stay there for three days. Once a director is hired, I work with them if they have any questions. It’s collaborative. Sometimes an actor will have their own grades to give. You’re just trying to make everyone feel happy and ready to go. I have nothing to do with the cast. Sometimes I am called in for adjustments. I like to do that. Hallmark respects their authors and wants us to be involved as much as possible throughout the process.

Explain your writing process to us. How do you find ideas?

Sometimes it will be a book adaptation that a producer brings to me. Sometimes it’s an original pitch. “We need a Christmas movie on a Christmas tree farm, do you have any ideas? Then I suggest 2-3 ideas. Sometimes it’s a rewrite that needs a bit of zhuzh. The network will sometimes have an area – “We want a Hanukkah movie, do you have any ideas? Then it’s my job to reduce it to something we’ve never seen before. Sometimes I run and it stays there 3-4 years. I usually have 5-6 locations waiting and write 2-3 movies per year.

Some of your Hallmark films – Shoot love and A royal feast – are located in Connecticut. Why is Connecticut a good place to prepare a Hallmark movie?

There’s something about fall and winter in Connecticut in particular that feels romantic. It’s a sense of belonging that has this Norman Rockwell vibe. There is something so beautiful about it. It’s an idealized romantic notion of a place that everyone feels when they come here.

You’ve been writing for the Hallmark Channel for eight years now. What changes have you noticed in terms of subjects?

Last year, the new CEO called for more inclusion and diversity. This is the main objective. They want us to keep the essence and spirit of what makes Hallmark Hallmark, but to be more like what this world is like. So we tell stories from a cultural point of view in addition to the holidays. One of my films [“Wedding Every Weekend,” 2020] had the first gay kiss in Hallmark history.

Are there any defining moments in your life?

Moving to Connecticut was a defining moment in my entire life. Every time I see the snow fall, I feel like it’s a moment of mark. There is always something new to discover here. You always have the impression of being in a special place, like in a movie set.


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