Molly and Cameron are in love. Molly and Cameron are getting married. Molly and Cameron are planning their wedding. Molly and Cameron… are a ticking time bomb of napkins, flowers and racist in-laws.
“I’m originally from Ohio, and I moved out to LA to work in the TV and film industry. For a couple years after moving here, I was producing reality television and 99-seat LA theatre. All the while I was working as an actor in the theatre, writing, doing short films, doing plays. I was trying to make art and figure out where my niche in the city and the business was. I’m lucky enough to have a strong group of people I work with that I’ve known from college or met through my work here. We weren’t planning on doing a piece, but then an idea kinda found me out of the blue. So I called up the crew.”
—Andrew Crabtree (Writer/Director)
How’d the idea find you?
I was having a conversation with two filmmaker friends who are engaged. They were talking to me about the planning process for the wedding. Watching them talk about it, their energy was so unique to me, so exciting and complicated. The hurdles they had to get over and how they had to get over them together was interesting to me. So I thought it would fit with my storytelling style.
It seems the true test of a marriage aren’t the years after the ceremony but the year of planning that leads up to it. Why do you think something that’s supposed to be the happiest night of your life is such a brutal undertaking?
I think that’s why it’s such a brutal undertaking—because it’s supposed to be one of the best nights of your life. As soon as you put that kind of pressure on it, it’s going to boil over at some point. That pressure is really hard, and trying to please yourself, your partner, and then your entire family? It’s a daunting task.
What was your filmmaking process?
I like to film in a very specific way. Emma Fassler is actually my girlfriend, so we’ve worked very closely on other projects, including our film Carrie: The Artist, which was in last year’s NBFF. For that project, Emma and I rehearsed it for hours—no cameras—just rehearsed the pants off of it. That’s what we did again with Planning Ahead. I got together with Emma and [actor] Phil Daddario a couple different nights leading up to the shoot and rehearsed it until we felt it in our bones. It felt real, the people felt real, the conflict felt real. So we didn’t have to toy with anything on shoot day. We just got to play. The whole thing was shot in one day at my house. We used two cameras and just rolled them and said “Go.” The actors already had it to run with it. Beginning to end—all the kitchen stuff, all the interviews—we did the whole thing in about eight hours.
I’ve asked each filmmaker about their obstacles, but it sounds like you had everything pretty figured out.
You’ve got to write for it. It’s hard, because you don’t want to inhibit yourself as a writer to only write the things that are free. But you don’t want to write yourself into a corner where you can’t create the thing you want to the level that you need. For all of the films I’ve made, I’ve pretty much had no money. That’s just the background that I have. So it matches my style, I think. I like to work in a very raw, sincere style with people being humans, running into conflicts with each other, then finding their way out and learning from it. You don’t need flashy, expensive stuff for that. You just need people in a room with something important to figure out.
Can you tell me about the decision to film it in a mockumentary style?
For me, the simple human interaction between two people is what I can best understand. As a director, it’s what I can best portray on camera. How my brain works is to just keep things simple and let humans be around each other, conflict, and maybe tell some jokes along the way because life’s funny. Some people are really good at telling their story with visual effects and graphics and crazy action scenes. I love those movies, but my brain doesn’t work that way. So the mockumentary style is something I find my writing gravitating towards, and it lends itself very well to a budget-free environment.
A dolly shot would have changed the whole feel.
It completely would have. As a director, it’s more important to me for the actors to play together and experience the scenes together, and I try to interfere as little as possible. So we didn’t have any designed shots. There were just the two cameras capturing what happened. Like I said, some people are great with dollys and rigs and fancier, cleaner, crisper shooting styles. And that’s awesome. But I find my work is best when humans are in control.