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The Adventures of Paul and Marian
2015, 92m, comedy, musical, romance
When Paul the pool boy elopes with Marian the rich girl, they discover life is harder than in the movies. Paul is forced to seek his fortune, and he discovers a hidden taste for the rat race.
Meanwhile, Marian is reading - mostly about the suffering of the masses - and incendiary books inspire her to bring revolution to the people. When Paul and Marian meet again in this screwball musical, they're no longer starry-eyed newlyweds - and their corporate henchman and revolutionaries insist on singing and dancing. How can their love survive?
Produced by: Jay Stern, Alan McIntyre Smith
Cast: Paul Herbig, Marian Brock, James Prendergast, Craig Wichman, Ramona Floyd, Mary Micari, Derek Lively
10 questions with The Adventures of Paul and Marian director, Jay Stern at the half-way mark.
Wednesday, June 8th, 2016
1Hi Jay! This is an insane film. What was the initial seed that made you want to make The Adventures of Paul and Marian? I had been wrestling with a script for a complicated horror movie for a few years and out of frustration, I decided to start writing something I could actually make. I thought it would be fun to write something for some friends. I started with the characters, thinking of what kinds of roles I could write for my friends. I was watching a lot of Godard and reading a lot of Brecht at the time so I thought something a little allegorical would be interesting. And things slowly progressed until I ended up with something WAY more complicated than that horror movie I wanted to make.
2This film almost feels like a play in the way it is blocked. Have you considered making this a play? Everyone keeps asking me that! I guess it could be a play, but I saw it mostly in cinematic terms. But sure, anyone want to produce a stage musical?
3I have no idea what it takes to make a musical. Did you write all the lyrics to the music as well? How early did you have the music recorded before you started shooting? There's a funny story behind this. It wasn't supposed to be a musical at all. But I found myself writing a song for Marian. I thought that was strange but interesting. As I said before, I was reading a lot of Brecht at the time and thought some more songs might make sense. I contacted a composer friend of mine, and before I knew it, I had a musical on my hands. I wrote most of the lyrics, but I'm luckily married to a brilliant writer who wrote more. And the composer contributed as well - he would regularly need to rephrase things to match the music. There's a whole story to the recording too, but the short version is that we had the actors record a scratch track to play back during shooting, and then we had singers come in and record the final music once editing was done, based on the actors' performances.
4You use green screen in such a fun and lighthearted way in this film. Why did you choose to make a film where 98% of it is shot on green screen? This wasn't really a choice. I knew I wanted transformable backgrounds, and I wanted to use rear projection for a more retro-style, but we found ourselves with access to a soundstage with not enough space for rear projection, and not enough money for the kind of shooting schedule a rear projected movie would need. Green screen was the obvious solution. But I can't stress this enough: under no circumstances should anyone attempt to make a low budget indie movie shot 98% on green screen.
5You've got a lion, a talking rock, zen masters that don't know anything, the list goes on. How did you come up with all this goofy stuff and did you smoking anything during the writing process? Ha! No smoking (not something I do) but I was watching a lot of British comedy, and some Buñuel, and some of my best friends are comedians and I really love cartoons, and, well, you do the math.
6What's the film that made you want to become a filmmaker? Star Wars. Godzilla movies. I pretty much knew as a 7 year old that I wanted to make things blow up on camera. And dinosaurs or monsters would be involved.
7What was the biggest challenge making this film and how did you solve it? The biggest challenge was the green screen compositing. I didn't know how to do this at all, and since we switched from rear projection to green screen right before production, I had to learn this on the job. I found a great compositor (Olise Forel) and we just had to spend the painstaking time needed to get tot job done. Post production took well over a year after editing was complete.
8What was the most takes you shot on this film? What scene was it? Oh gosh. We shot the entire movie in 10 days so there just wasn't time. Maybe 5 takes? There's one scene I cut from the film where the Henchpeople confront the Uncle. It had a song we had to cut too. That scene maybe had some shots with 6 or 7 takes. There was a fire effect, plus some slapstick comedy. I just didn't have the time to make it work well so we cut it from the movie.
9How did you find your cast/crew? I've been directing for 20 years and I wrote this movie for actors I know. Almost every part was cast with someone I had worked with or someone who I specifically wrote the part for. Same with the crew - either people I had already worked with, people I knew I wanted to work with, or people referred to me by friends or collaborators.
10What's next? I am most likely directing the Chicago production of a play I did in NYC called "The Bardy Bunch: The War of the Families Brady and Partridge." It's the story of the Brady Bunch versus the Partridge Family in a Shakespearean bloodbath. Also I am planning to shoot a dark movie on a Greek Island early next year. But I can't say any more about that yet.
About the Interviewer: Ben Hicks
Ben Hicks is a writer/director and co-founder of Fandependent Films. Ben is currently working on making Fandependent Films awesome and is finishing up his first feature film entitled Kids Go Free to Fun Fun Time which was selected for the 2017 IFP Narrative Lab.
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