My Extravagant Marriage Proposal!

January 25, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

"Kelsey, will you marry me?"

After months of planning and prep, I popped the question this month in Los Angeles.  I'd gone and made the question a little more elaborate than was probably necessary, but hey thats just how I like it.

I shot a short film/spoof trailer in London last November and the time was finally here to surprise Kelsey with this ditty in a theater in Westwood.  There's lots to say about how I did this and why, but nothing tells the story better than a video, so here goes:

Its smug and its cute I know, but I also realise that true love really can drive you to smushy madness like this.  If you like our story, the rest of what i'm about to write is all for you.  Cynics and heathens and those averse to large amounts of text on a screen need not read on.

2014 California2014 California

Kelsey and I at Malibu beach the day after proposing


In every aspect of the tradition, proposing to Kelsey was just about the most natural thing I could have done.  She's the love of my life.  I've loved her since the moment we met, and trying to marry her was never in doubt.  When you're madly in love - where love is accepted as some brand of beautiful madness - being apart for any amount of time isn't easy.  Living 8,000 miles apart is downright torture.  This just won't do, so I'm closing the gap, and rowing away from the rocks.  We all want love, so go get it.


At the tail end of last year we spent four months apart, and it was our longest separation since first meeting early in 2012.  During that lonely time I did the obvious thing of daydreaming our next encounter, and the movie-making idea was borne of that.  I guess this phase is commonly called boredom.  Its amazing what can come to a man working a 3-day week.  


I knew I wanted to impress her with something special.  I imagined something pompous, exaggerated, extraordinary.  And why not?  I'm at war with the obvious.  I need novelty in my life as much as she needs a good man, and so I really ought to try for both. 



Kelsey is very much her own movie star.  Born and bred in Los Angeles, home of Hollywood, she's been on stage since she was a child, including appearances in Nickleodeon shows and various toy commercials.  She loves the attention and doesn't embarrass easily.  Kelsey's dad writes movies, her older brother is starting out in the same line of work, and she even has a couple of scriptwriting projects of her own.  She still does some TV work as an extra, and I too spent some six years working on film in London. 


As a couple we watch a lot of movies, sometimes three a day if we care for it.  We have date night at the cinema regularly.  We admit to each other that we feel like we're the co-stars in movie adaptations of our own lives.  This sentimental arrogance keeps us ticking.  So you can see film is very much in our lives, and this is how I ended up writing a little movie about our lives together so far.


The Switcheroo

I knew I wanted the movie shown in a cinema, and ideally in with genuine trailers before a main feature.  The idea was to lure Kelsey into going on 'just another ordinary date night', but to have fixed 'the trick' with the theatre beforehand.  Early on during planning I started making moves on independent theatres in Los Angeles, and I eventually found the stunning Crest Theater in the salubrious LA neighbourhood of Westwood.  


The night of the trick I told Kelsey we were going to the movies, and that tickets were booked to see Tony Scott's True Romance at 7pm.  She was the other side of town at work and claimed she would never make it in time due to traffic (LA does traffic really well, liked no other city i've witnessed).  Alas, with a little pleading she was soon on her way.  I stood outside the theatre for what seemed like ages, clutching this diamond ring in a clammy clenched fist whilst pondering how I was going to pop the question.  Its funny, i'd put so much passionate design and effort into constructing this elaborate trap, I had barely given any thought to what I was going to say to her once the essential moment presented itself.  Very tense.  What do I say?  Will she understand what is happening to her?  Will she hear my question through the fast haze of weirdness?  Can I kneel down in a theatre aisle and still look dignified?  Many questions.


Anyway, 7pm came and went and I started to get nervous that she would never make it.  Kelsey's phone had died so there was no way of reaching her.  8pm soon past us by and still no VIP arrival.  I had started to think something terrible had happened and I wasn't doing a good job of consoling her friends and family who had spent the same time hiding at the back of a pharmacy two blocks down.  They were restless and breaking out of position and I was ready to throw in the towel.  At that point I decided she wasn't coming and that worse we had a serious matter of personal safety on our hands.  Maybe she had crashed her car and died.  I honestly thought that and it was horrible.  From excitement to despair is not an easy scale of emotions to endure in such a short period of time.


It is of great fortune then that the laid-back theatre manager was happy to let this farce continue unchallenged, as no sooner was I ready to call time on it and instigate LAPD search & rescue, Kelsey arrived all flustered on account of severe traffic on the 10 freeway.  She was clearly not happy and hardly in a mood to enjoy a date at the movies.  She was also full of questions as to why she'd just seen one of her best friends hanging around the pharmacy just two blocks down, but I pretended to ignore the question as I hurried her inside.  Added to that she couldn't fathom why the cinema would have postponed the screening an entire hour just to honour her arrival, and further why there might be nobody but two cameraman in the theatre angling their wares her direction.  I could see confusion setting in her face pretty quickly.  I was resolved to accept the surprise was possibly only half blown; at that point there was nothing we could do.  Keep calm and carry on, as the mugs like to say.


Finally, two regular movie trailers rolled by our attention, helping to uphold any sense of normality, and then followed my little number.  Kelsey's attention fixed firmly on the screen, her brow furrowed in a moment of confusion, I watched as best I could manage in my peripheral vision.  No sooner were the child actors on screen, fully regaled in preposterous costume and waxing lines from Kelsey's own life (including 'little Kelsey' mentioning the whole film title and her catchphrase within the first three lines of dialogue), did it appear to click and she realised the whole thing was a swindle.  Kelsey was suddenly and beautifully moved by this filmic representation of herself, of her own life, on the big screen and in this lavish setting, her conniving boyfriend to her right and her treasonous brother to her left.  She took the whole two and a half minutes to fully unravel the ruse, and even then i'm not sure she completely knew what was going on.  Watch the YouTube clip and you will see her simultaneously in fits of laughter and deep, excitable tears from start to finish.


The movie closes, the curtains roll back and the house lights go up.  Now is my moment.  I lean forward and begin my poorly prepared lines through jangling nerves.  I tell myself to breathe deep and ignore the cameras (get over yourself - after all I had arranged for them to be there in the first place).  Live in the moment, enjoy its surreal tension, show this woman you love her.


And so it happens: the question is proposed, and to my great relief she says yes.  Finally her family and friends reveal themselves to celebrate all together.  Her mom, her dad, her brother, and a handful of her very best friends were all there to bear witness.  There was lots of tears and hugs and fizzing joy, and I think its perfectly soundtracked by Paul McCartney's "Maybe I'm Amazed" (Kelsey picked this one during the edit).


Afterwards we all went to Kelsey's house to dip raw vegetables into vague condiments and get pissed.  We watched the film a couple more times, I showed them the making-of video (provision of translation was necessary for those broad British accents), and everyone had a nice gawp at the big posters displaying well wishes from my motherland.  


And Finally...

Now the video is out, it appears to be touching lots of people and as social networks keep sharing much of this new audience are total strangers to Kelsey and I.  People we don't know are writing us nice messages, some are even crying with happiness.  This is a unique experience and i'm still trying to understand it.  At the very least I think people enjoy connecting with the essential decency of being human, and I think that probably just means love.  Love as a desirable privilege of simply being alive, and a brilliantly nurturing part of existence as we wander through the cold indifferent vacuum of space and time.  Now that's deep, man.


In many ways, knowing that this video turns people on helps Kels and I cope with our separation: as if people NEED us to do this, for the greater good or world peace or something. 


Thats some deliberately gauche bullcrap, but whichever way this video is my best shot at demonstrating my true love and genuine happiness.  I don't care if its sappy.  My life is my life.  And i'm getting married to a movie star.






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