Labor of love: movies and TV are a family affair for couples in Utah
(ABC4) – Boston McConnaughey had the ultimate pickup line.
Working as an assistant on the set of his friend’s film project, “Missed Connection,” he approached one of the film’s actresses, Renny Grames, with an unfailing whim of attention, especially given the setting.
“You look exactly like this character I wrote for this movie,” recalls Grames, her Mohawk suitor said from the start. “And of course, that’s how you get a date with an actress.”
Fast forward 10 years later to 2021, Grames and McConnaughey have now been married for 10 years. The film McConnaughey referred to in his first flirt, Alien Country, is set to finally debut after years of working on the screenplay and shooting production with Grames as principal and McConnaughey as director, in the weeks to come. to come.
Romance is a proven storytelling vessel in the film world, but offscreen and behind-the-camera romance is pretty common as well.
According to Marshall Moore, former director of the Utah Film Commission and still a prominent member of the community, the nature of cinema lends itself to making lasting personal connections.
“Cinema is very collaborative,” Moore describes to ABC4.com. “It’s all a collaboration between people and departments, skills and personalities. This translates into how relationships should be, collaborative.
Moore knows that his wife Michelle is also a major player in the industry as a publicist and marketer.
The two recall that after meeting over film-related affairs in the state, they went on a first date possibly inspired by one of Marshall’s favorite films, The Sandlot, by se making it into the batting cages.
As a married couple, the two continued to push the film industry in Utah even further as the new owners and directors of the LDS Film Festival.
The Moores are close to many other couples involved in Utah’s burgeoning film and television.
Michelle says knowing about relationships, struggles and triumphs motivates them to continue building Utah’s big and small screen legacy.
“We sincerely want to improve our skills,” she says. “We both want to help our movie family. “
Some of these movie families have been connected through the movie all the time.
Kynan and Jennifer Griffin, for example, chose to use their first home together in Provo as the setting for their first film project as a married couple.
About a month after being harnessed, the Griffins’ humble starting home was slammed, virtually around the clock, with more than 25 crew members working on the LDS family film, Pride and Prejudice.
“There was only one bathroom,” recalls Jennifer with a laugh. “So the whole team and we all use a bathroom and we only had our room where we lived, but the rest of the house was completely managed by the team; the front yard, the back yard, every square inch like the driveway. You’re young, stupid, and upbeat and you don’t mind being comfortable, so that was great.
From uncomfortable beginnings, the Griffins have enjoyed great success in the entertainment industry, including the creation of The Outpost on The CW.
Other couples have entered the business later in life to keep in touch with their children who are making films.
Greg and Elisa Brough got involved in filmmaking to support their children, Brian, Jennifer and Brittany, through their business, Candlelight Media. While children are the creators of the company’s family films, which include a documentary about Jimmer Fredette and the 2011 BYU basketball team and several stories from the scriptures, parents are working to expand the reach of the studio working on accounting and licensing of finished products.
The couple admit that they’ve never been as keen on movies as their kids are, in fact Greg jokes that one year on Father’s Day his only request was to spend two hours without talking about movies while at the same time. spending time with his family. He laughs that they all immediately “jumped into the movie discussion” the second the clock ran out on the grueling 120 minutes.
Elisa believes that the family film business has been a great way for the group to stay close. This is also how they as parents can rest assured that their children are doing what they love while avoiding some of the pitfalls that can beset those who work in the cinema.
“I always thought that when Gregory took his early retirement, we would go on a mission. It turned out that this is our mission, ”she explains. “We were very worried because we didn’t want our kids to be drawn into the Hollywood lifestyle and we want to stay, you know, with the standards and values that we have in our house.”
Phil and Lisa Shepard also made film and television production their second careers, but in their case the change came out of necessity.
After working at the same company shortly after their marriage in the late 1980s, Phil and Lisa were laid off the same day. For the young family, who were just starting their life with two young children, and another on the way, it was a terrifying situation.
A neighbor who was working on a movie set reached out and offered to let the two work on the production, doing whatever was necessary. It ended up being a life-changing experience for the couple. Soon after learning the ropes, Phil bought a few lights, rigging equipment, and started a lighting and production business.
Now the owners of a professional grade equipment rental facility and production studio in Orem, Shepard Grip & Lighting, are grateful for the help they’ve received in moving from desperation to stability.
“Fortunately, we’ve had some great people we’ve worked with over the years who have taught us a lot,” says Phil. There are just some great people in this industry who are willing to lend a hand and help you and show you stuff and teach you stuff. It was really good.
Like other couples who have stumbled upon the movies, Derek and Mariah Mellus have also risen through the ranks of team success. Derek began his career as a set designer – whom he describes as a “glorified person on the move” – and rose through the ranks to become a product manager at the Utah Film Commission. Mariah had been a member of the arts community before the nonprofit, the Utah Film Center, stepped in. She currently holds the position of Group Chief Executive Officer.
Working in a movie was never a plan until it happened, says Mariah.
“Since then, the universe has tended to guide us in its unfolding,” she says. “It’s just one of those ironic little coincidences that people like to joke about.”
And even though the two of them spend long days working in movies and TV, the Mellus still get together with their kids at least 3-4 times a week to watch something on their couch.
Perhaps the pillow on their couch says it best, describing the sentiment and sentiment shared by every movie couple in the state.