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Making the Movie

GOD, SEX & APPLE PIE was a six year labor of love for writer/producer Jerome Courshon. His desire to delve deeply into the psyche of the typical American man and woman’s hopes, dreams and fears gave birth to a script that dealt with love, sex, the life choices people make and the resulting consequences. What originally began as a narrowly-focused script turned into a much larger story and one that could touch people from all walks of life.

"I found this to be a story of Everyman at a crucial juncture in American life, which is really timely right now," states director Paul Leaf. "These are very real people with very real lives—not the warped and cockeyed version of reality that we see on television shows like the now defunct Melrose Place."

To maintain this Everyman aspect of the story, the production crew meticulously removed all noticeable license plates from cars and shot around all geographically indicative markers so as to keep the audience from pinpointing these people to a specific locale. For the few scenes filmed in Los Angeles, this meant no shots with palm trees.

Courshon adds, "The thing we felt was important here, was not to have people say, ‘Oh, it’s a story about New Yorkers’ or ‘Oh, it’s about those Californians.’ And we tend to do that sometimes when we see a movie about people from a particular locale. We bring our biases about those people or that "culture" with us into the movie theatre. We didn’t think that should happen here with ‘GOD, SEX & APPLE PIE,’ precisely because it’s not about a narrow group of people here in America."

"What sold my involvement in this motion picture was the fact that this story was about women too," explains executive producer Michelle James. "So many of the theatrical pictures today treat women one dimensionally as 'the wife' or 'the love interest' because it’s the man who carries the movie. Of course, we all know why that is—theatrically released movies with female leads, thus "female" stories, do not do as well at the box office as testosterone driven movies. While there certainly is testosterone in ‘GOD, SEX & APPLE PIE,’ the women here are meaningful and have something to say. They are just as important as the men in this story."

To find the cast who could play these characters with the reality and depth that the producers and director wanted, they went through 5,000 submissions and ultimately auditioned over 500 actors. "This is the kind of ensemble movie that requires perfect casting, if such a thing can be achieved," notes Courshon. "There are nine major characters in the script, and since each one is quite distinct and different from the others, not only did we need to find the right actor for each role but also the right grouping of actors."

After spending six weeks casting, the creative team was still missing one actor. That was the role of the "wannabe" stand-up comic, Ron. "We auditioned a lot of stand-up comics who came in to read," explains Leaf. "They were very funny with the comedic elements of the scenes, but could not hit the deeper notes of the character. And then we auditioned the actors who could touch the deeper notes, but couldn’t do the comedy. As our date for beginning principal photography approached, we began to get concerned."

With several weeks left before shooting was to start, Courshon found himself hopping comedy clubs around Los Angeles. "I admit, we were being extremely picky about this character," confesses Courshon. "It was too important to just hire someone who could do the job adequately, especially when the rest of the cast we assembled was incredibly talented. We wanted brilliance in this role! My thanks to the Comedy Store, because this is where we finally found the actor to play Ron."

Principal photography started during the month of October to catch the seasonal changes in the trees and foliage. "This was valuable to us, not only for the allegorical aspect of the changes in nature to the changes these people undergo in the story," adds director of photography Scott E. Steele, "but also for the yellows and reds we were able to capture, which added a dimension of warmth to the picture."

There was also an unusual warmth and dedication to the making of this film on the part of cast and crew who all lived together on location in a nearly communal way. There were the usual tensions and love affairs of a company on location, but with the close proximity, a bond developed which ultimately helped feed the ensemble rapport found in the performances of a wonderfully talented cast.