At a recent screening at the Dallas International Film Festival, writer-director Michael Mohan had to narrate the opening of his second feature film when it began with no sound: “Right now you’re hearing the sounds of a book store. There might be a car driving by, and that guy is about to drink coffee.” Fortunately the projectionist was able to restore sound by the time the title sequence started, but the botched and awkward opening set the mood for the equally awkward and uncomfortable situations that befall Lizzy Caplan in the romantic-comedy, “Save the Date.”
The light and endearing film (you can read our review from Sundance right here) follows a struggling illustrator and bookstore manager (Caplan) who struggles with emotional vulnerability and commitment in the run up to her sister’s wedding (played by “Community” and “Mad Men” star Alison Brie). And although the cast is rounded out by a trio of great male actors in Martin Starr, Geoffrey Arend and Mark Webber in total swoon-worthy mode, it’s the girls’ story through and through.
The focus on the two sisters was an unintentional result of the writing process, which began with novelist-artist Jeffrey Brown and Egan Reich and ended with Mohan, who explained to us in an interview that “[with] a lot of Jeffrey Brown’s novels it’s sometimes about a whole group or [just about] specific people. Having Lizzy’s character be the center just happened [during the process] of trying to make the story modern.”
Another modern aspect of the film is its frankness about sex. Mohan is no stranger to sex scenes, having tackled them extensively in his short, “Ex-Sex,” which he joked “was NC-17.” To make filming the sex scenes for this film less awkward, Mohan “talked to the actors as clinically as possible. I’d tell them what shots we need and what we’ll see.” He also invited Caplan in the search for the actor that she would be spending her scenes with and they decided on Webber, an actor they were both fans of and who was Mohan’s first choice.
Despite its cast of rising stars and its focus on complex female characters, “Save the Date” is still without a distributor, and although many indies are going VOD, Mohan is a big proponent of the theater-going experience and photochemical film: “Obviously you just want as many people as possible to see the film[, but] we didn’t shoot for mobile phones, we shot it big, we shot long takes, wide shots, but it’s a changing world.” Mohan admitted that “[although] digital is what has allowed me to be a filmmaker, the instant I can afford to shoot film, that’s what I want to shoot on…For me, it’s about getting [the film] to as many people [as possible]…I’m broker than I’ve ever been in my life. I’m really struggling right now, [but] I’m more happy than I’ve ever been because I got to make something that I care about.”
To find out where “Save the Date” is screening next, visit the film’s Facebook page.