'A town straight out of a Hallmark movie': Long Grove provides perfect setting for new Hulu rom-com
From the moment producers Chris Charles and John W. Bosher read Buffalo Grove screenwriter Adam Rockoff's holiday romance, they knew "Reporting for Christmas" would be their next film.
And they knew exactly where they would film it: Long Grove.
"We knew from get-go we were coming back to Long Grove," said Charles, an Arlington Heights native. "In addition to being known for Christmas cheer, Long Grove looks like a town straight out of a Hallmark movie."
Having filmed 2021's "Christmas with Felicity" there, Charles and Bosher, a Mundelein resident, were familiar with the picturesque burg and its environs.
Long Grove's historic Village Tavern and its famed covered bridge proved ideal backdrops for Rockoff's tale of a TV reporter (played by "Gossip Girl's" Tamara Feldman) who falls for a toymaker (Matt Trudeau of "Chicago Fire") after she's assigned to do a puff piece about his family's business.
Bosher describes "Reporting for Christmas" (which premiered Wednesday on Hulu), as television's equivalent of comfort food that viewers embrace for its predictability and nostalgia.
"That kind of escapism is essential" given the state of the world, said Bosher adding, "as filmmakers, we crave it as well."
Village officials, business owners and residents welcomed the cast and crew, said Charles, whose previous productions with Bosher have included horror, crime and action films.
"If you asked me 10 years ago if I'd make Christmas rom-coms, I'd say never," he said with a laugh. "They bring people so much joy. When you tell them (you're filming a Christmas movie) they smile."
In the wake of a pandemic, political unrest, natural disasters and wars, viewers want "something comforting and familiar that has a happy ending and makes you feel good."
That's what Charles and Bosher intend to deliver. The producers, whose next film is in the works, said the pandemic prompted them to produce lighter fare.
"It's nice to go to work and tell a story that's uplifting and fun," said director Jack C. Newell, who also helmed "Christmas with Felicity" for Charles and Bosher's Very Merry Entertainment. But escapism isn't the only reason these films strike a chord with viewers.
Christmas movies "reinforce the moral code of the world we live in. They are, at heart, about doing what is right," said Newell, who grew up in Glen Ellyn and graduated from Glenbard South High School.
"It's about us trying to be the best versions of ourselves," he said. "I don't think art can change the world, but art can inspire the people who can change the world."
Rockoff, whose writing credits include like "One Night Stand Murder" and "I Spit on Your Grave" as well as "A Merry Christmas Wish" and "Blending Christmas," says writing jolly holiday tales isn't that different from writing thrillers or horror films.
The content differs but the craft remains the same, said Rockoff, who admits his wife -- "an obsessive watcher of Christmas films" -- and their kids would prefer he stick with rom-coms, which he says are no less consequential than any other movie.
As for the ongoing popularity of such films, Rockoff says in a world that is a complicated, terrible and wonderful place, films like this serve a purpose.
"Now more than ever, viewers are seeking out that magical Christmas spirit that maybe never existed but we all wish did," he said. "There is nothing wrong with pining for something better and experiencing it vicariously."