What was it like filming a Hollywood rom-com in Fort Wayne? We ask LA producer of The Wedding Pact 2

If you’ve ever walked around downtown Fort Wayne and imagined its quaint brick buildings and historic architecture as the backdrop of a Hollywood rom-com, your dreams are about to come true.

When Los Angeles-based film producer, Matt Berman, met Fort Wayne native, Michael Gouloff of Elevatus Architecture, through a mutual friend, it led to Berman’s romantic comedy sequel, The Wedding Pact 2 (The Baby Pact), being filmed in the Summit City in May 2021. The film, written and directed by Berman, stars Haylie Duff (sister of Hilary Duff), Connor Trinneer (Enterprise), Gail O’Grady (Criminal Minds), Quinton Aaron (The Blindside), and Scott Michael Campbell (Shameless).

The story picks up three years after the original Wedding Pact when a young, soon-to-be mother Elizabeth (Duff) returns to her hometown Fort Wayne to live with her sister after being widowed in Boston.

Downtown Fort Wayne has a lot to offer high school students, if they only knew where to look.

Once back in the Midwest, Elizabeth begins working at a local flower shop (Cottage Flowers) with a high school friend (Aaron) and is soon taken to court when her mother-in-law arrives, seeking full custody of her child at the Allen County Courthouse. In addition to Cottage Flowers and the Courthouse, the movie features scenes of downtown, Fortezza Coffee, and Catablu Grille.

A private premiere of the film will be held Friday, November 12, at 6:30 p.m. at the Sweetwater Performance Theatre with a red-carpet experience, and many of the cast plan to attend.

So what was it like filming a Hollywood production in Fort Wayne, and could the city provide a good environment for future films? We sat down with Berman and his Fort Wayne connection, Gouloff, to find out.

The Wedding Pact 2 (The Baby Pact) was filmed in Fort Wayne at the Allen County Courthouse.

IFW: Tell us a little bit about yourselves and how you got involved with filming The Wedding Pact 2 (The Baby Pact) in Fort Wayne?

MB: I grew up in Branford, Conn. After graduating college in1992, I moved to Los Angeles, became a page at Paramount Studios, and soon got into filmmaking. My first feature was Big Wind On Campus (2000). I wrote and directed The Wedding Pact, and it was released in 2014.

I met Fort Wayne native Michael Gouloff through a mutual friend, and we became great friends. One day, we had a conversation about films, and he suggested I should film a movie in Fort Wayne. When I told him about wanting to do a sequel to The Wedding Pact, he immediately got on board and helped make it happen.

MG: Our goal with bringing a production like this to Fort Wayne was to present our city to the movie industry. In my mind, filming a movie here is another way to market where we live and work and to help put Fort Wayne on the map. After many years of owning and running an architectural firm (Elevatus) in Fort Wayne, I've had the opportunity to move to many cities, but I never wanted to leave my hometown Fort Wayne. It's a great place to be.

Matt sent me an early copy of the script, and we talked about how the film would fit Fort Wayne, too. Much of the movie takes place in a courtroom, so we arranged for Matt to visit, and he walked into the Allen County Courthouse downtown and said, “I had NO IDEA that Fort Wayne was this perfect for the movie!”

It turns out, the courts, the scenery, the atmosphere, and the people all fit the movie very well.

MB: Fort Wayne was fantastic! I'd love to film there again.

The Wedding Pact 2 (The Baby Pact) was filmed in Fort Wayne at the Allen County Courthouse.

IFW: Give us a brief synopsis of the film.

MB: Three years after Mitch and Elizabeth got married at the end of The Wedding Pact, the two celebrate when Elizabeth announces she’s going to have a baby. One month later, Mitch suddenly passes away. With nothing to keep her in Boston and needing a fresh start, Elizabeth’s sister, Rachel, offers to take her back to their hometown of Fort Wayne.

Once arriving and starting a new life, Elizabeth runs into an old high school friend at a flower shop he runs with his father. Noticing a “Help wanted” sign, and needing a job, she gets hired on the spot. A few months later, Elizabeth is surprised when Mitch’s mother, Jennifer Becker, shows up. She informs Elizabeth that soon after Mitch died, she received a letter he wrote to her. In it was a plea that if anything ever happened to him to not let Elizabeth raise their child alone as he did not think she would be a suitable single parent. So, Jennifer informs Elizabeth she is taking her to court to try to get full custody.

IFW: Behind the scenes, what were some of the logistical challenges and opportunities of filming a production like this in Fort Wayne? Anything unexpected you encountered?

MB: The only real issue (that didn’t come up much) was that it was a bit more difficult solving some equipment problems. Filming in Los Angeles, you have everything you needed close by. 

As for other unexpected things about Fort Wayne: I didn’t expect to fall in love with a minor league ballpark and King Gyros. 

Parkview Field and related projects have been a catalyst for downtown growth and investment.

MG: From my perspective, I had to convince people that we were really going to do this. I also had to raise money for the production. With the help of County Commissioner Nelson Peters, Judge Wendy Davis, and several local businesses, we made it happen.

IFW: Thinking about the Fort Wayne community, what are some of the assets/opportunities here that a more robust film production scene could build on?

MB: The city is so authentic. You get incredible production value filming in Fort Wayne. I’m still pinching myself that we got to film in the Allen County Courthouse.

The Wedding Pact 2 (The Baby Pact) was filmed in Fort Wayne at the Allen County Courthouse.

MG: When Matt visited with a couple of his production people, they immediately bought into the courthouse as a focus in the movie. I introduced them to my ideas of businesses that could help us in the film, too. Catablu, Fortezza, and Cottage Flowers all fit the script well.

When the cast and crew showed up, I was incredibly proud of our community. Everyone, from crew to the actors and actresses, all commented on how nice people are in Fort Wayne. The streets are clean; the city is scenic; and the people are SOOO nice. The mood was that all of them would come here any time to do another movie.

The Wedding Pact 2 (The Baby Pact) was filmed in Fort Wayne at the Allen County Courthouse.

IFW: Tell us about the premiere on Friday at Sweetwater. What can guests expect?

MB: It will be the first public showing of the film, and most of the cast are flying in to be a part of it.

MG: This event is a private screening premiere of the movie, and it will be the first time that anyone will have seen the entire film on a big screen. Sweetwater has been gracious in allowing us to screen it in their private auditorium. There will be a red carpet with photographers and media for our guests to walk and be seen with the stars, too.

It will be fun to host this type of event in our hometown!

Learn more

You can rent The Wedding Pact and (soon) its Fort Wayne-based sequel The Wedding Pact 2 (The Baby Pact) on Amazon Prime.

Read more articles by Kara Hackett.

Kara Hackett is a Fort Wayne native fascinated by what's next for northeast Indiana how it relates to other up-and-coming places around the world. After working briefly in New York City and Indianapolis, she moved back to her hometown where she has discovered interesting people, projects, and innovations shaping the future of this place—and has been writing about them ever since. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @karahackett.