Seasoned filmmaker and director Maclain Nelson (“Saratov Approach,” “Once I Was a Beehive,” “Show Offs”) knows it’s tough to launch a new entertainment option under the best of conditions in this extremely fragmented media market. But his latest and greatest effort, “Once I Was Engaged” topped all he had faced in the past.
The scheduled Hawaii shoot during a global pandemic when Oahu was closed was just one. Getting 21 people at the same time with a negative COVID test was another. Finding touristy-looking extras to film at the Polynesian Cultural Center when no tourists were on the island was another.
Shutting down filming in Utah when there was an outbreak was yet another. But he persevered.
Entertainment moguls 2021 advertising spend is estimated in the billions with the smaller Amazon Prime budgeting just $9 billion compared to Warner Bros. $22 billion and Disney’s $24 billion. (Observer, Katz, May 2021).
Yet it is in the same industry that a rare breed of brave, independent filmmakers compete, finding a way to not only compete but to win against those odds with budgets that are comparatively microscopic.
The secret? Extremely solid content their audiences care about weaved into loads of comedy created by an amazing cast, thus making the film a memorable, must-see that creates organic sharing and word-of-mouth. Still, success can feel like a lucky lightning strike. This summer lightning is about to strike the same brand twice.
Great content and cast
Nelson knows as well as anyone that a woman’s education, career, and family choices are entirely hers. You see that support in his life. His wife, the very talented actress and director Clare Niederpruem (“Little Women,” “Outpost,” “Time Traveler”) returns to her role of Bree Carrington—the bride-to-be. She is Nelson’s real-life career partner and wife.
In a fun way, “Engaged” explores these choices that are open for all women and celebrates their freedom to choose. Alongside Niederpruem is a wildly talented and funny cast including Bart Johnson (of “High School Musical” fame), Paris Warner, Lisa Valentine Clark and the original “Beehive” crew. Another fun challenge Nelson faced was finding younger look-a-like and talented versions of his original “Beehive cast.” This reason alone makes the film a must-see crowd pleaser.
Organic support at a furious pace
When a solid entertainment option launches, it creates its own noise. And heaven knows everyone appreciates a great comedy after being holed up streaming older stuff for so long. So Nelson joined the distribution team of Excel Entertainment and Purdie Distribution, neither having ever enjoyed the marketing guns a Hollywood release does.
But Hollywood came — organically. It started With “Grey’s Anatomy’s” Sarah Drew and her 3.9 million followers. Then “High School Musical’s” Corbin Bleu caught hold and shared with his fans and “TRU TV Impractical Jokers” James “Murr” Murray wasn’t far behind with his 1.4 million followers. “Twilight’s” Ashley Greene brought her 1.6 million followers to the table followed by Hallmark heartthrobs Andrew Walker and Erin Cahill and Broadway star Laura Osnes and the process continues.
Somewhere in the midst of this happy mayhem the “Once I Was Engaged” trailer shot from No. 10 to No. 3 and finally settled in the No. 2 slot on the Apple trailers playlist. Not a bad day!
A sequel for “Beehive”
“Once I Was Engaged” is a sequel to the wildly popular “Once I Was a Beehive” released six years ago just after the Summer Olympics. “Beehive” hung on for months against a slate of big Hollywood titles. Theaters were thrilled with its success.
In hindsight, that mountain of competition looks like a molehill. “Once I Was Engaged” will compete with the Olympics timeline directly and theaters full of Hollywood films that have waited a year to release.
“Once I Was Engaged” brings back the fun, personalities, nostalgia and comedy for which “Once I Was a Beehive” was loved.
Below is a short synopsis from the film’s website: “A stereotypical uber-planner, Carrie Carrington (Lisa Valentine Clark) has her daughter’s entire life planned out. The Plan was working for Bree, too, that is until Thys Chesterfield (aka Mr. Perfect) came on the scene and well…you know what they say about the best laid plans. All too soon, Bree has a ring on her finger and Carrie Carrington, is forced to abandon Plan A in order to plan the wedding of the century. She built an ark for girl’s camp—wait to see what she does when her daughter’s future is on the line!”
Tickets are available at https://www.onceiwasabeehive.com/.