'Five Year Engagement' films at Liberty Plaza, and onlookers get a glimpse behind the scene
Crowds starting gathering across the street from Liberty Plaza in downtown Ann Arbor at around 6 p.m. last night. Dozens of people downtown on a summertime Friday night got a unique glimpse behind the scenes of "Five Year Engagement," a romantic comedy starring Jason Segel and Emily Blunt being filmed around Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.
A special-effects crew transformed Liberty Plaza into a snowy wintertime scene, which was a little surreal in June. Even before the real action started, people were enjoying watching men with large blowers and bags coating the plaza in fake snow.
Around 9 p.m. the stars arrived. Segel and Blunt spent about a half-hour walking through the scene and talking with the production crew. But the crowd would have to wait a little longer to see exactly what the scene would be. After big smiles and waves to the crowd that got people excited, Segel and Blunt left again to let the crew get even more fake snow delivered and get the lighting just right. A tanker truck sprayed down the corner of Liberty and Division with water, making the street look icy.
Onlookers noted how much care they were taking to sculpt a large pile of fake snow into shape. Some passed time by throwing out guesses as to how they were going to use it in the movie. Would someone jump in or not?
By 10:30 or so, stand-ins for Segel and Blunt were doing a couple of walk-throughs, giving onlookers a preview of the action to come. The pair walked through the plaza hand-in-hand, pausing to talk in front of the meticulously cultivated snow pile.
Segel and Blunt returned in wardrobe around 10:40 p.m., and they started filming a little before 11 p.m. The dialogue was inaudible from the crowd, so it was difficult to tell if the moment was romantic or if there was conflict brewing. Different onlookers had differing opinions about what the actors might be saying to each other in the scene.
The crowd also spotted Blunt’s husband—actor John Krasinski, who plays Jim on the TV show “The Office.” He watched from behind the cameras.
Sometime after midnight, the film crew switched to a different part of the scene. Large screens blocked the view; however, a peek at the television monitors revealed a little about the shot. It looked as though they were filming a conversation between the two lead actors with a series of close-up shots of their faces. Segel sat in front of some of the twinkling holiday lights covering the trees in Liberty Plaza. Filming continued into the wee hours.
Dozens of people lined up across the street to watch the hoopla, many staying for hours and others stopping for a few minutes to check it out on their way to other Friday night plans. The production certainly stirred a lot of curiosity and created a fun, social vibe among the crowd.
Shawn Hawley and Lisa Bruck have seen them film parts of the movie in their Old West Side neighborhood. They “can’t wait to see the final movie when it’s all put together,” Bruck said. “I can’t wait to see our neighborhood,” Hawley added.
Watching them film at Liberty Plaza, Bruck was impressed by how much goes into producing a single scene. “Its fun to see the whole production crew and see what they come up with. There’s a lot of stuff—all the equipment and trucks,” she noted.
“It’s a chance to see first hand all the work that goes into the movies,” onlooker Jennifer Dibbern said. “I really enjoy watching how they set up the lighting, how they did walkthroughs before filming, all the little pieces, and the amount of crew that it takes to put a scene together.” She also likes watching how the crew members work together and get along: “Sometimes you hear them laughing and clapping. It’s fun to watch them interact across the whole set.”
Dibbern enjoyed getting to look behind the scenes of a movie for her first time. “I was going to have a quiet evening and go read. But this is much better!” she laughs.