Danica and Joe

How We Met

Danica and I met through a singles web site, which is ironic because I had kind of a cynical opinion about online dating which was actually recorded for posterity in a documentary film about singles and dating that I was interviewed for*. Nevertheless, Danica’s online profile intrigued me so I reached out to her.

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We exchanged e-mails and texts for a couple of months before going on our first date, which was to a movie.

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While we both enjoyed the film, we agreed that watching a movie wasn’t an ideal first date for actually getting to know each other so we scheduled a second date where we decided to just sit and talk. We talked for hours and during our conversation, we both decided to do something unusual and kind of risky—without articulating it in so many words. We laid all our proverbial cards on the table and revealed our deepest, darkest secrets to each other.

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I went first and told her the one thing about me that I thought would be an immediate deal-breaker for her. I waited for her to get up and leave. Instead, she said to me, “I’m still here,” and shared with me something very personal and embarrassing—which was actually quite similar to an experience that I had.

That second date was kind of like that scene in “Magnolia” when Melora Walters and John C. Riley make a deal with each other to share everything about themselves with each other and get past all the deceptive practices that kill other relationships**.

Danica and I had decided to try something new that we had never experienced with other people: to be completely honest from the beginning and to never stop. To conceal nothing from each other. To address any concerns we had immediately and not let them build up into tension and problems. This had an added benefit. By acknowledging all of the dark secrets of our lives right at the beginning, as we continued to learn about each other, we would never be confronted with any shocking revelations, just pleasant surprises.


how they asked

One evening in early 2014, when we were on a date, I was talking with Danica about a short, experimental, quasi-documentary film I had made a number of years ago and how I wanted to remake it. I knew that I had to start with a major rewrite and develop the original idea into a narrative that the audience could better connect with. The original story focussed on one character, I suggested to Danica that perhaps I should adapt the story to feature two characters. She agreed and in that moment, I decided to produce the film and that it would be my proposal to Danica.

I called a close friend who I had worked with before on a number of film projects. He was the only person—other than my sister, who lived out of state—that I told about the real purpose of the project. I got to work on a new screenplay for the film and presented it to a writers’ group that I attend from time to time and received some excellent critique and suggestions that I was able to implement into new drafts.

Danica and I worked together on pre-production for a several months, making and assembling various props and our wardrobe. She and I would be portraying the two characters in the film (which were based on us).

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I had initially figured that I could shoot the film in one day for about $1000 (which was all the money and available credit that I had at the time we started the project). I wanted to make sure that anyone involved in the production was monetarily compensated, even if it was just a token payment to cover their travel expenses. In a turn of events that I simply cannot deny was the work of a higher power, a number of production jobs seemed to just fall into my lap one after another and I was able to commit every paycheck to my own project.

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By the end of the summer, my production budget was over $4000. This enabled me to actually hire my crew for actual day rates for their participation instead of just asking a bunch of friends for favors; which I have no doubt they would have been willing to do… especially if I disclosed to them that the film was my marriage proposal. Since I could just hire them, I was able to keep that important information confidential with less risk of Danica finding out too soon.

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It wasn’t until our cinematographer/editor was finishing up the initial edit that I let him in on the surprise by telling him that the first title card of the closing credits would read, “Dani, will you marry me?”

I scheduled a public screening of a several locally produced short films that would end with the premiere of movie. I also hired one of our crew members to make a video of the event with clear instructions to get Danica’s reaction to the film. When I e-mailed those instruction to him, he asked, “Are you going to propose?” I replied coyly that “I cannot confirm nor deny any action that I may or may not take on the night in question. ;-)”

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Several friends and Danica’s family were all there for the screening and you can watch the rest of the story yourself in the video below! :-)

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