‘Once I Was Engaged’ features college student’s journey to marriage

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”Once I Was Engaged” comes to theaters July 21, featuring the story of a young woman learning how to handle life’s detours when her plans to serve an LDS mission change after meeting the man of her dreams. (@onceiwasengaged on Instagram)

The film ”Once I Was Engaged,” sequel to “Once I Was a Beehive,” highlights a wedding’s rollercoaster of emotions and life adjustments.

The film features the story of a young woman whose plans to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints change after she meets the man of her dreams and gets engaged.

Director, writer and producer Maclain Nelson said the film’s premise came from looking at what growth and changes would have happened to the characters from “Once I Was a Beehive” in the six years since the film.

Nelson said Bree Carrington, an energetic Type A personality, was the natural character choice to lead the film. Nelson knew he wanted the movie’s focus to be on Carrington realizing life doesn’t always go as she’s planned it and the growth that comes from change.

One thing that was clear after “Once I Was a Beehive” was the love audiences had for Bree’s mother, Carrie Carrington, Nelson said.

Lisa Valentine Clark is shown from behind the camera portraying her character, Carrie Carrington. Carrington’s focus is on helping her daughter, Bree, have the grandest, very best wedding she can. The film will depict their loving relationship as they both experience the lifestyle changes that come from Bree getting married. (@onceiwasengaged on Instagram)

Lisa Valentine Clark portrays Carrie Carrington, a wife and mother very similar to her daughter, Bree. Carrington expected her daughter to go to BYU, serve a mission and then get married.

When Bree gets into BYU-Hawaii and gets engaged instead of going on a mission, Carrie tries to be as supportive as possible. Nelson said the filmmakers knew the relationship between mother and daughter was going to be a large focus.

“A lot of times in romantic comedy movies, you get one or two perspectives from the couple. In our movie, you get a larger view of it and you see how it affects friends and family,” Clark said.

Clark said her character gets a little “out of control because she wants to make this wedding a big deal and she just loves her daughter too much to not go overboard.”

(Left) Clare Niederpruem and (right) Lisa Valentine Clark portray daughter and mother respectively in ‘Once I Was Engaged.’ The film will show the impact going to college and getting married has on not only the young adult but on their family as well. (@onceiwasengaged on Instagram)

Nelson reminisced about how incredible it was to make a heartwarming family film in the middle of a worldwide pandemic.

“We were so very careful,” Nelson said. The whole cast and crew were tested daily for COVID-19. He said COVID-19 was somehow simultaneously the biggest obstacle and the biggest reason the film could even be made.

“The pandemic raised our budget in ways we didn’t expect, especially in regards to the extra healthcare precautions. But in certain ways, there were so many silver linings,” Nelson said.

He said he wasn’t sure the Polynesian Cultural Center in Oahu would have been available and empty enough for the movie’s shooting to happen if it had been before the pandemic.

Another bright side of filming during the pandemic was that all these actors and filmmakers weren’t working or as busy as usual, Nelson said. This allowed them to collaborate together when they may have not been available beforehand.

“Getting to do this felt like the biggest gift. We had to shut down for a few days, then resume when it was safe and it was all pretty crazy,” Clark said. “But truly, we all saw it as something that we couldn’t take for granted.”

Clark and Nelson both said the film is for anyone and everyone. “I can’t think of someone who might not enjoy it because of how applicable the experiences and characters are to everybody,” Clark said.

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