Production Notes From “The Proposal Complex”

While we are waiting for “Don’t Be Scared” and “The Invention” to be edited, I have been working on the press kit for our previous film “The Proposal Complex” which some of you might be familiar with. Today, I wrote up our production notes for the film, so enjoy for your viewing pleasure.

“The Proposal Complex” is the third film under the banner of Clerestory Productions, co-founded by Simon Mounsey (Director/Producer/Writer) and Josh Paney (Cinematographer/Producer). It also is the first short film of their repertoire that expanded upon the slapstick comedy of their first two films “Tick, Tock, Toe” and “The Invention” and instead took a dramedy approach by infusing comedy and drama together into a character study piece.

Considering “The Proposal Complex” is a character study and a slice of life, there needed to be some thought put into the casting of the film. The lead female and the object of Greg’s affections in the film, Rachael, was an easy choice. Director Simon Mounsey had known Robin Andrews for years and previously worked with her on a few student films. She was chosen due to her versatility and the fact that she fit the part like a glove.

Another part cast very early on in the film was that of Greg’s brother Roger who was played by Charlie Kierscht who the previous month had been in Clerestory Productions’ film “The Invention” as the lead. On that film, Kierscht didn’t have a line of dialogue but from interacting with him on set, Simon knew he deserved a speaking part in the next Clerestory Productions film after he served as comic relief on set.

As for the rest of the cast, an involved casting process took place where ads were put out all over the net which resulted in a few auditions held solely by Simon. In this process there were several roles to be cast from Greg’s buddies, the “just legal” young spitfire Sammy, wise acquaintances Lisa and  Jimmy and of course Greg himself.

Of this group, Brian Keys was the first cast as he had a perfect audition playing the perfect guy’s guy friend, not to mention he was a master improver. The second person cast was that of Samantha Hinchley as Lisa and Abe Vences as Jimmy.

This is where things got a little tougher. The part of Sammy was narrowed down to three actresses, all of whom could’ve played the part. After much contemplation though, Simon felt Jennifer Lenius was the best fit for the part with her exuberance and experience.

Steven Smilowski (Richard), Jennifer Lenius (Sammy) and Brian Keys (Dale)
Steven Smilowski (Richard), Jennifer Lenius (Sammy) and Brian Keys (Dale)

 

The one problem through this entire process was casting the lead character of Greg. There were a plethora of great acting talents that auditioned for the part but for one reason or another they didn’t fit the mold for Greg. On the final day of auditions, Simon bended over backwards trying to get two final auditions as he knew he hadn’t found his Greg yet. The first he met at a restaurant around 8:30 p.m. and while he thought there was possibility, that actor was cast for the other buddy of Greg. Unfortunately though, this actor never made it to set due to transportation complications and was replaced at last minute by Steven Smilowski who did a remarkable job, especially considering he had to memorize his lines and part a mere hour prior to shooting.

That leaves Greg. After casting Robin, I asked her if she knew of any possible interested actors and she gave me the name of Justin Kimball. The hard thing for Justin and for me is his audition was done completely by himself without anyone to play off of besides Simon himself. Through good fortune after the first moments of the audition, Simon knew he finally found his Greg. What’s more surprising is that Justin had never done a film before but was a complete natural.

There also needed to be quite a handful of extras on set, so everyone who did not receive one of the main parts in the film worked as an extra on set. Because the film is set at an outdoor house party, the actors remaining were not enough to fill the screen, and so we managed to obtain a few friends and family to participate in the film as well.

All of the actors, extras as well as a few crew members taking a break before filming.
All of the actors, extras as well as a few crew members taking a break before filming.

 

The core crew of “The Proposal Complex” wasn’t much different than that of the previous film “The Invention.” Simon Mounsey of course was Director/Producer with his production partner Josh Paney as Cinematographer/Producer. Also returning was JD Scruggs (Gaffer) who was in charge of all aspects of lighting and also served as location manager as his home is where “The Proposal Complex” was shot. Josh and JD also had input in terms of the storyline of the film along with Simon.

In addition, we had Josh’s brother Jeremy Paney as his Assistant Camera, Samantha Segura returning as our Assistant Director and Matt Mickelsen serving double duty as Boom Operator and Music Composer. Considering how much cast I had to deal with, I brought in another former colleague David Baker as the Second Assistant Director. We also brought on a new Production Assistant in that of Shyam Shennaveli and Justin Steinfeldt as our talented steadicam operator.

Steadicam operator Justin Steinfeldt
Steadicam operator Justin Steinfeldt

 

“AN 11 TAKE WONDER”

Over half of “The Proposal Complex” is done with a steadicam. Not only is it shot this way, but the opening is over four minutes long. You add getting the production values, the dialogue and everything else right, there was no way this was going to be a one or two take shot. Instead, the opening was shot a whopping 13 times, with take 11 being the one used in the film. Why did it take so long? Well, with it being outside, the biggest detractor of the night was audio. There weren’t many takes where there wasn’t an airplane, train or motorcycle that went by or extraneous people talking down the street. Beyond that, the camera movement had to be just right as the point of the steadicam is for it to appear like another guest was following Greg at the party. Technically speaking, the audio boom and light boom had to be working in unison without intruding on each other’s space. Not to mention the actors involved in the film had to get their lines right; although surprisingly this was the simplest aspect of the scene.

Justin Kimball (Greg), Jennifer Lenius (Sammy) and Brian Keys (Dale)
Justin Kimball (Greg), Jennifer Lenius (Sammy) and Brian Keys (Dale) all over the shoulder of Simon Mounsey (Director).

 

“The Proposal Complex” was shot on July 13, 2013 in Wheaton, Illinois at the home of JD Scruggs from 5 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. and from 9:00 p.m. until 2:30 a.m. on July 14., 2013.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *