5 Questions with Sean Garrity, Director of the Mennonite-Filipina Romantic Comedy ‘I Propose We Never See Each Other Again After Tonight’

“I Propose We Never See Each Other Again After Tonight” is the eighth feature from award-winning filmmaker, Sean Garrity. Based in Winnipeg, his work has been selected by festivals including Toronto, Busan, South by SouthWest, Shanghai, Mannheim, Torino, Singapore, Melbourne, Mar del Plata, Taipei, Santa Barbara and Sao Paulo. The films have been distributed and broadcast around the world, translated into 15 languages, the subject of numerous remakes.

1) What inspired you to make a romantic comedy about a Mennonite and Filipina?

Growing up in Winnipeg & rural Manitoba, the question really should be: why aren’t ALL my films romcoms about Mennonites and Filipinos?

2) How did you make sure you got the cultural details correct?

Beyond just growing up my whole life around Mennonites and Filipinos, I actually did a ton of research, met with groups from those two communities to consult as I was writing the story, and again during the edit process – we did a lot of test screenings to make sure we were getting it right.

But on set, when some of the cultural stuff was playing more prominently in a scene, I would allow my actors to improvise – in certain scenes I actually didn’t even write dialogue, I just came to set with an outline of the scene, and we workshopped it in front of camera.

In these scenes, it was really important for me to let the actors – who are from the community – take the lead in showing us how this stuff would play out.

I believe this approach contributed immeasurably to the authenticity you see in the film.

3) What was the most challenging aspect of making this film?

Shooting outside in Manitoba in January.

We had gear freeze up on us, production vehicles stall, and I knew I wouldn’t have as much time to work with the actors in those exterior scenes.

I really wanted to capture the beauty of winter – because I feel like winter is an essential part of the Manitoba mythology – but that comes at a price.

4) How did you decide on the surname Friesen and the community of Morden?

Simon is a character with a lot of secrets, so it was important for my story that his family be out of town (the show happens mostly in Winnipeg) – and we wanted to connect him to a largely Mennonite town to reinforce the sense of community at play in his psyche.

His name was originally Simon Loewen – just because I had a super close friend named Loewen when I was growing up – but once we picked Morden, we drove down there to scout locations and do some research, and folks there told us that Loewen was “really more of an Altona name. Down here, we’re Friesens and Wiebes.”

Thus, Simon Friesen.

5) What did you eat more of on the set: vereniki or pancit?

Wa~ay more pancit.

Watch the film, you’ll see why

“I Propose We Never See Each Other Again After Tonight” is playing at the Keystone Cinema in Steinbach from October 16 to October 22, 2020.