Joel Goldman
Production Notes
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When playwright James Sherman penned the heartwarming story of a girl coming to terms with her own life and relationships in 1989, little did he know that it would go on to thrill audiences worldwide for many years to come. The stage production that has played to audiences large & small, is near and dear to Sherman's heart, as his experiences growing up in a Jewish family in the Chicago area heavily influenced the story line and character development.

One of the initial challenges for the writer was to author a play that could be performed on a single set, yet still have the depth and breadth to engage audiences. With clever writing and interesting characters, Sherman pulled it off. But he always envisioned something bigger, what it might be like to expand the story to include multiple locations and additional characters, while retaining the core elements that had made the play such a huge success. The answer, naturally, was to turn the work into a movie. And while he would set about to write an initial draft of a screenplay for a film, and would entertain numerous proposals, it would take many years before the right opportunity would present itself.

It was while in New York City after seeing a Broadway play, that David Newton would get the bug to work on a movie project. A graduate of Brigham Young University's film and television program, and heavily involved in local community theater with his wife Sandy, Dave was no stranger to the theatrical world. He recalled a play that he had seen performed in a regional theater called Beau Jest. "What a terrific movie that would make" he thought. "I wonder if anyone has ever approached the writer about turning the play into a movie." In fact several producers had approached Sherman, some taking options on the picture for a period of time, but no one was able to bring the project to fruition. After returning home from the Big Apple, Newton decided to track down the playwright and see if he had any interest in making a film. When he finally connected with Sherman, he learned that he was indeed interested in a doing a movie, but had been unable to find anyone with the vision and ability to get the job done. Newton, determined to make the film a reality, enlisted the help of his brother Dan, a veteran television producer. Together they began a series of discussions with Sherman that would ultimately lead to the signing of a deal and at long last the beginning of production on Beau Jest - the movie.

Casting began with some open auditions in Utah in early 2006, but ultimately the producers would head to Hollywood to cast the principal roles. They knew the role of Sarah Goldman would be particularly difficult to fill. But Sherman had worked with a young Jewish actress in Los Angeles that he thought just might fit the bill. And while a number of fine actresses would audition for the lead role, ultimately Sherman's original pick proved to be exactly right, and Robyn Cohen landed the part of Sarah. Lainie Kazan was identified early on as the ideal actress to play the part of Sarah's mother. After Ms. Kazan read the script, she indicated that she loved the story, and immediately signed on to the project. Seymour Cassel came on board soon thereafter in the role of Sarah's father, and through a series of auditions the roles of Robert Schroeder and Chris Cringle were filled by two young, up and coming actors, Tony Daly and Greg Cromer respectively. The role of Sarah's brother Joel, however, would prove more difficult to fill. A number of fine actors auditioned, and the role was eventually offered to one actor who ultimately could not accept due to a scheduling conflict. But after many weeks of additional searching, the name of Willie Garson was presented. Willie was a hit with the production team right away, and they knew they had found their Joel.

Principal photography began in Utah in July 2006 and wrapped up in Chicago a little more than a month later. Post production editing commenced in late 2006, and continued in 2007 along with sound design, original music scoring and final post production. The film was completed in the fall of 2007.

 

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