If you watch Hallmark, Lifetime, ABC Family, ION or UP Made-for-TV Movies, then most likely you have watched one or more of Peter Sullivan’s many films, from his extensive resume, including “12 Gifts of Christmas”, “A Prince for Christmas”, “Eve’s Christmas”, “The Flight Before Christmas”, and many more!!! (By the way, I asked Peter to share all of his movies in Question #1, so be sure to scroll down, look at the list and share in the comments below - which ones you have seen or which original TV movie is one of your favorites!)
In addition to all of these films, Peter Sullivan’s latest project is the upcoming Hallmark Channel *Summer Nights* Movie ‘My Summer Prince’. Many of you have expressed great interest in “Royal” Movies, so I hope you will enjoy my Q & A with Peter, on his upcoming Original Movie Premiere, and much more!!!
Net, It's a Wonderful Movie: Welcome to "It's a Wonderful Movie", Peter! It's my honor to interview you here today! First of all, please share with us a list of your television films and your role in the creation of them?
Peter Sullivan: I’ve been involved with producing, writing, and/or directing over 70 films at this point, so that would be quite a list. I can focus on the Christmas titles for now. In reverse chronological order:
“My Summer Prince” (director, co-producer)
“Christmas Land” (co-producer)
“12 Gifts of Christmas” (writer, director, co-producer)
“I’m Not Ready for Christmas” (co-producer)
“Christmas Under Wraps” (director, co-producer)
“Christmas Wedding Tail” (writer, co-producer)
“Your Love Never Fails” aka “A Valentine Date” (writer, co-producer)
OTHER CHRISTMAS MOVIES
“The Flight Before Christmas” – Lifetime (writer, director, co-producer)
“A Prince for Christmas” – ION (writer, co-producer)
“A Christmas Reunion” – ION (writer, co-producer)
“A Perfect Christmas List” – ION (writer, co-producer)
“A Christmas Mystery” – ION (writer, director, co-producer)
“Christmas in Palm Springs” – UP (co-producer)
“All I Want for Christmas” – ION (writer, co-producer)
“Dear Secret Santa” – Lifetime (writer, director, co-producer)
“All About Christmas Eve” – Lifetime (director, co-producer)
“Christmas Twister” – ION (writer, director, co-producer)
“A Christmas Wedding Date” – ION (writer, co-producer)
“12 Wishes of Christmas” – ION (director, co-producer)
“The Dog Who Saved Christmas Vacation” – ABC Family (writer, co-producer)
“A Nanny for Christmas” – Lifetime (co-producer)
“The Dog Who Saved Christmas” – ABC Family (co-producer)
“A Christmas Proposal” – Lifetime (writer, co-producer)
“His & Her Christmas” – Lifetime (writer)
“Eve’s Christmas” – Lifetime (writer)
I’ve also done a number of films outside the holiday genre, including horror films such as “Summoned” starring Cuba Gooding Jr, Ashley Scott, and Bailey Chase; and “Ominous” starring Barry Watson and Esme Bianco. I also wrote a thriller called “Abandoned” that was, sadly, Brittany Murphy’s last film. My most recent thriller, “His Double Life,” recently premiered on Lifetime, starring Emmanuelle Vaugier, Brian Krause, and Cristine Prosperi.
Net, It's a Wonderful Movie: That is certainly an incredible list of Television movies! Please share with us what inspires you to create these stories! Should I, Dare I, ask… do you, perhaps, have a favorite?
Peter Sullivan: I love the themes behind Christmas: family, togetherness, love, etc. A lot of my holiday films are magical because I do find a very magical quality in the joy that the season brings. The first Christmas movie I ever wrote, “Eve’s Christmas,” uses a time travel structure to examine what makes the holiday so special and the impact that it can have on our various relationships, both with family and significant others.
My favorites among my titles are the ones that continue to resonate and endure over the years. “Eve’s Christmas,” “12 Wishes of Christmas,” “Dear Secret Santa,” and “Christmas Under Wraps” definitely fall into that category… and, coincidence or not, they all feature a magical element.
Net, It's a Wonderful Movie: Since many of your Made-for-TV movies are Christmas Movies, what are some of your absolute all-time Favorite Christmas Movies?
Peter Sullivan: My all-time favorite is “A Christmas Story,” however, as a filmmaker, the two biggest influences have been “It’s A Wonderful Life” and “Miracle on 34th Street,” both of which use a fantastical element to help capture the wonder of Christmas. Among more recent films, I would have to say that “Elf,” and “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” are real stand outs. (Of course, since “Gremlins” and “Die Hard” are also technically Christmas movies, I suppose I should mention that I enjoy those as well.)
Net, It's a Wonderful Movie: Now, let’s get to your latest project, ‘My Summer Prince’, which is premiering August 6, 2016 on the Hallmark Channel! Viewers have fallen in love time after time with this “Royal” genre of films, please share a summary of this story! Is it a Romantic Drama or a Romantic Comedy?
Peter Sullivan: I’ve seen a number of the “Royal” genre films, and I wanted to flip the story on its head, so instead of a girl being whisked off to a royal kingdom, “My Summer Prince” is about a prince’s experiences here in America.
The film tells the story of PR assistant Mandy Cooper (Taylor Cole) whose firm is hired by the Queen (Vanessa Angel) to rehabilitate the public image of a handsome but misbehaving prince (Jack Turner). When Mandy’s demanding, controlling boss (Lauren Holly) ends up falling ill, she decides to assume her boss’s identity and handle the account on her own. Naturally, the prince has a handler (Marina Sirtis) who starts to grow very suspicious of Mandy’s true identity. Things are further complicated when Mandy and the Prince start to develop feelings for each other and we find out that she’s not the only one with a secret!
There’s definitely a screwball comedy quality to the plot, and screenwriter Topher Payne is a wonderfully witty writer, but there are also some dramatic moments as well. So how about we call it a touching romantic comedy?
Net, It's a Wonderful Movie: We would also love to know a little behind-the-scenes of ‘My Summer Prince’… Please share who is starring in this movie, what it was like working with them, and any special “on the set” moments!
Peter Sullivan: I’ve been blessed to work with some wonderful actors and actresses over the course of my many films, but this was definitely a very special cast! The night before we started filming, my line producer Brian Nolan and I took everyone to dinner at the hotel and we all completely bonded.
First of all, I can’t say enough wonderful things about Taylor Cole. She’s not only stunning and a wonderful actress, she’s remarkably funny, which you’ll see in this film. When she’s on screen, you just can’t help but be captivated… she’s a true star in every way.
Jack Turner, who plays the Prince, is tremendously talented. There is nothing that man cannot do! There was a scene where his character plays REO Speedwagon’s “Keep On Lovin’ You” on the piano. I’d prepared the song for on-set playback but there was no need. He’d taught himself how to play it!
Lauren Holly is hilarious as Mandy’s tough boss, but she also remains somehow likeable throughout the whole process rather than just become a villain. I’d get so mesmerized in her performance, I’d almost forget to call cut when we were finished. She’s also such a sweet woman, and completely unlike the character she plays in the film. The crew was excited because a lot of them grew up with “Dumb and Dumber,” but for me, she’ll always be Betty from the TV movie “Archie: To Riverdale and Back Again,” which I must have watched 20 times as a kid.
I’ve been a Star Trek fan for a long time, and the first autograph I’d ever gotten from my very first Trek convention, was Marina Sirtis, who played Troi on “The Next Generation.” (I didn’t tell her that, by the way.) What a pleasure it was to have the opportunity to direct her in this film. I had written a film she was in for Syfy called “Finders Keepers”, but this was the first time we actually met. She has flawless comedic timing and always has such a wonderful sense of humor… even if her director is prone to quoting Star Trek movies on set now and then.
Vanessa Angel, our second Farrelly Brothers alum, is terrific as the Queen, and so different from some of the other roles I’ve seen her in. I also found out she’s a big Christmas movie fan so I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of her soon!
We also had a fantastic young actress from Australia, Kassandra Clementi, whom I’ve directed before in “Christmas Twister.” She took what could have been a simple nemesis for Mandy and made her sympathetic. Her big scene in the castle at the end is a must see.
Net, It's a Wonderful Movie: Every Prince needs a castle, of course! Where was ‘My Summer Prince’ was filmed?
Peter Sullivan: We filmed the movie in Utah, mostly Park City with a smidge in Salt Lake City. I love it because it’s a very versatile location, you can go from what looks like Manhattan to nature’s wonderland in twenty minutes. It was perfect for this story because it’s set at a mountain resort, so we were really able to take advantage of the gorgeous mountains. In fact, a lot of the locations were specifically chosen because of their views. A lot of the movie was shot at the Westgate Park City hotel.
One interesting tidbit is that Park City, which stands in for the fictional town of “Greenbriar, Idaho,” does not have a town fountain, which is a pivotal location in the story. So, the fountain you see prominently featured in the film was actually trucked in and assembled on location by my tremendous art team, led by production designer Vicky Chan. A lot of locals that stopped by were disappointed to find out that it was only temporary and one of the town reps thought it looked so good, they should get a fountain of their own.
Net, It's a Wonderful Movie: What’s next? Do you have any news of upcoming movies, premiering on Hallmark or elsewhere that you can share with us, yet?
Peter Sullivan: I’m going to be starting a new movie soon which I can’t talk about yet, but I have co-produced a holiday movie, “Vermont Christmas Vacation,” coming to ION this coming holiday season starring Chevy Chase, Abigail Hawk from “Blue Bloods” and our leading man from “Christmas Under Wraps,” David O’Donnell. Look for more information on that one soon.
I’ve also written a horror movie for Syfy that will be airing later this year, starring Michael Jai White, Amber Benson and Dina Meyer; and my company has a couple of thrillers awaiting release shortly.
Net, It's a Wonderful Movie: That's an interesting "scoop" on 'Vermont Christmas Vacation'! How fascinating that it has "Christmas Vacation" in the title and it stars Chevy Chase! I'm sure all Christmas Movie watchers, including myself, will look forward to hearing more news on that film.
In the meantime, as we end this interview, I must ask... What do you hope viewers will take away from watching ‘My Summer Prince’, or any of your stories? How special is it to you - that families watch your films together on Hallmark, and elsewhere?
Peter Sullivan: One of the best things about my job is when I tell people what movies I’ve done and I see their eyes light up because they’ve seen it. I love that these movies have a place in people’s hearts and that they continue to bring joy year after year. That’s the special thing about these movies, they’re suitable for the whole family and everyone can find something about them to like.
(And then there are some of my other films, where I enjoy making people jump out of their seats… but that’s a different type of story.)
Net, It's a Wonderful Movie: One more thing... in addition, where can my readers find out more about your upcoming projects or follow you on social media?
Peter Sullivan: I have a Twitter that I use to publicize my films: @Peter_LSullivan I’m trying to tweet more stills and behind the scenes photos than I used to, so bear with me. In the meantime, if you enjoy my movies, please feel free to reach out and let me know!
Thank you so much Peter for doing this interview with me for "It's a Wonderful Movie"! I know my readers have been talking about your movie "My Summer Prince" from the very moment we learned the title and knew it had something to do with royalty!
Let's all roll out the red carpet and watch the premiere of...