Meet the producer bringing Hallmark romance to Tampa Bay movie sets

Paul Guzzo, Tampa Bay Times on

Published in Entertainment News

"Love in the Sun" filmed two months later.

Hallmark, she said, “fell in love” with the area, and wanted to make a third movie here in 2020, but needed a script.

She reached out to Tampa-based production company Digital Caviar. They wrote "A Taste of Love" about an out-of-work television chef who returns to her hometown to find her family’s multi-generational restaurant is up for sale because it can’t compete with contemporary cuisine.

The pandemic temporarily shut down the movie industry before a deal with Hallmark could be sealed.

Digital Caviar met with Pinellas film commissioner Tony Armer to discuss options for filming it on their own. On Armer’s advice, the Pinellas County Commission provided Digital Caviar a $500,000 production incentive if they tweaked the script to double as a commercial for Pinellas tourism by including specific locations and dialogue that promote reasons to visit.

Meanwhile, production started again and Hallmark greenlit "South Beach Love," about an American chef and a Cuban chef who meet and fall in love against the backdrop of planning a quinceanera.


It will be shot in the area and production could begin next month.

“Having quality family entertainment consistently filming in the bay area leads directly to film-induced tourism,” Hillsborough film commissioner Tyler Martinolich said. “It’s exciting for residents to see their community represented in a positive way.”

Added Armer about Schmidt, “I couldn’t be more grateful that she fell in love with St. Petersburg and Clearwater and wants to bring projects here. We’re lucky to have her on our side.”

Schmidt said it took a “little bit of luck” for her to break into the film industry.


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