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MOVIE 43

"The Proposition" as told by Steve Carr
The Proposition
Directed by: Steve Carr
Cast: Chris Pratt, Anna Faris, JB Smoove

As told by director Steve Carr:

I come from the world of music videos and hip hop videos, but I had become known for doing family films -- PAUL BLART: MALL COP, DR. DOLITTLE 2, DADDY DAY CARE. Hollywood can be a ghetto -- if you do family films, that's what you get offered.

So when Charlie and Peter pitched me this story, I jumped at the chance. It validated everything that I felt was funny as a 14 year old adolescent. It was the opportunity to do exactly what I wanted -- plus Peter and his brother, Bobby, are personal heroes of mine. So I agreed to do it.

Chris Pratt and Anna Faris were already on the film by the time I came onboard, which was wonderful. They were both such great sports -- I don't know that it could have been better. I'd produced another film in which Anna starred, "Mama's Boy." She really knows how to play the naive, angelic girl. And I think because of Chris and Anna's real-life relationship, there really is a kind of loving pulse that you can feel.

Their ability to play it straight, plus that warm vibe from their real relationship, is what makes this comedy work. My feeling is, everyday life is absurd enough, and if you're in a heightened situation and the actors play it real, it just makes it hilarious. Who would ever expect that conversation would come up at a picnic? They played it like it was a romance.

When I first got the script, I realized it didn't quite fit the three-act structure that even a short film should have. Like I said, I come from music videos, so I already had the perfect skill set for telling a whole comedy in seven minutes -- this was right up my alley! And what's great is, with a short film like this, you can cut right to the chase: you don't have to waste time telling how they got to the barbeque - they're just at the barbeque. It was very freeing.

I knew I wanted to make the conversation with Chris and his friends the centerpiece, and J.B. Smoove and Chris were just ridiculous -- hilarious. That's my favorite part of the film. It's really almost all improvised. J.B. went on for, like, 15 minutes, and Chris was able to keep up with all his riffing. All that stuff, like, telling him to add some guacamole and salsa to give it "color" on the back end - that was all J.B. And we were all literally cracking up behind the camera. I ruined three or four takes because I was laughing so much! He must have done 20 different versions, all hysterical.

Of course, it's the third act that seals the deal. And, again, with Chris, there's this incredible mixture of this real warmth and affection for Anna he has --he really wants to do what she wants, and you can feel it. But when push comes to shove, he can't take waiting anymore -- he's just, "Ahhh, I gotta shit!!"

Those sounds you hear, by the way -- all the "bad plumbing" gurgling and farts - that is literally me just channeling my 14 year old inner self. I was lucky to have a good editor, who I've worked with before, Craig Herring, and we worked together to really enhance and heighten his reaction with the sound effects and cutting in between takes. But, at one point, we had so many farts and gurgling sounds that everyone told me I had to take it down a notch.

That scene where they're in bed -- when the big moment comes, in the third act -- Chris and Anna really chimed in and helped choreograph it. We were getting, "Why don't I come in and I'll just stand over her?" and "Well, what if he is ready, but I say no?" It was like a ballet.

We had to build this powerful "poop cannon" for when the car - that was my idea - hits him and the poop ends up all over the car. We had to come up with this projectile unit, and we filled it with mud and dirt and whatever else we could get in there. Funny enough, I came back to that same location wanting to shoot something else sometime later, and they wouldn't let us. They said, "Well, the last people who shot here used this thing to make everyone think it was poop, and we had to hire special street cleaners to get it off the street!"

The whole thing was a blast. When will I ever get the opportunity to channel my 14 year old self and spend someone else's money doing it? I really had a good time on set, and if that was all I got out of it, it was plenty satisfying. Even though it was a shitty experience.

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