By Mark Bell | December 27, 2004

Despite the various problems facing the colorful cast of characters in William Moreing’s Joyful Partaking, they’re still an amazing bunch to hang out with for two hours.

In Joyful Partaking, one fateful day brings the inhabitants of a quiet residential neighborhood together as their personal troubles boil over to critical mass, forcing them to take notice of one and another and ultimately learning that life ain’t that bad after all. Yes, there’s a strong positive message here, but it’s not all candy canes and sugary nonsense. The film has just the right amount of edginess and dark humor to keep you from gagging on its good intentions and it’s never so dark that it comes off as mean spirited. In short, it’s a damn near perfect movie with characters and stories so infectious that you’ll be thinking about them for days after seeing it.

We spoke with William Moreing about what drove him to make Joyful Partaking.

What made you decide to become a filmmaker?
I don’t know. I’ve wanted to make films ever since I saw “The 7th Voyage of Sinbad” at the age of 6. Maybe it has something to do with wanting to tell stories that amuse and amaze and inspire the viewer. Or maybe it’s simply an attempt to get laid.

What was the first film you ever made?
I made a short film back in 1988 when I was working as a film editor. But that movie is sitting in a closet and nobody will ever see it again, if I can help it. Suffice to say, I consider “Joyful Partaking” to be my “first” film.

How did you come to make “Joyful Partaking”?
I came up with the idea sometime during 1998 and thought about it for many months before sitting down to write it. I wrote the screenplay during the summer of 1999. Usually it takes me several months to complete a script, but this one was written in about 10 weeks. We produced the TV inserts (the talk show, the soap opera, the commercial) in February of 2000. We pre-produced the main body of the film during May, June and July of that year and then shot it during August. Post-production lasted through March of 2001. The premiere took place at the Tahoe Int’l Film Festival in September of 2001 and was subsequently screened at 24 additional festivals.

So, what’s it all about?
The film’s moral is that Life on its surface is frightening and dangerous and–yes–depressing, but that it all makes sense on a higher level that few people are wise to attain. In other words, “S**t Happens”, but, ultimately, there’s nothing to fear.

How did you assemble your cast?
Most of the major roles were cast with actors I already knew and with whom I had acted earlier in my career. The other actors were found with the aid of a first-rate casting director (in Seattle) named Stephen Salamunovich.

What do you think drew the actors to the script?
I have no idea, unless it’s the fact that this script contained more dialogue than most. I like to imagine that the actors were so moved and amused and inspired by the material that they all wanted to be a part of it, but you’d have to ask them.

What format did you shoot the film in? Did you choose the format for its look, or was it budgetary?
35mm all the way. Someday, if digital photography can ever truly recreate the look of film, I’ll go that route. But I swear that film forgives less than stellar acting, while digital photography doesn’t, or can’t.

What’s up next for you?
The next project is a PG rated horror film based on a million-selling book called “Scared Stiff”. The script is in great shape. Currently we’re drawing up prospective budgets in anticipation of raising enough $$$ to make it.

“Joyful Partaking” is available at the Film Threat Shop>>>

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