Gene Stupnitsky answers ‘Weight Loss’ questions

Wow. That title sounds like Gene is a dieting counselor. ;)

Here are The Office’s Gene Stupnitsky’s answers to your questions about the Season 5 premiere, Weight Loss!

Q. Give us some behind-the-scenes details on the Jim/Pam proposal scene. I’ve heard that the gas station was fake, the rain was fake, even the traffic was fake! Do tell! | tanster

Gene: I don’t think any scene in our show’s history went through as much prep as that one.

You wouldn’t believe how much time, money and planning went into making that proposal look casual, authentic and unpremeditated.

The original plan was to film this at the actual Merritt Parkway on the East coast — but there were just too many variables. So it was decided, after about a dozen meetings, that we would –- at considerable cost –- recreate the Merritt Parkway in the parking lot of a Best Buy in Los Feliz, California.

I guess that’s what they call “Hollywood magic.”

So led by our most excellent production designer, Michael Gallenberg, and a small army of crew members, a fake gas station was built, complete with rain machines and stunt drivers driving in figure eights to recreate the feel of a highway.

After filming, we sent that footage to a company that does special effects and they covered up the California mountains with those tall East-coast type trees that you now see in the background.

We knew that we had only one chance to get it right. So, yes, while the gas station, traffic and rain were all fake, the sentiment was all real.

And I have to add, driving onto the set with Greg Daniels and Stephen Merchant (he was in town directing an upcoming episode), I couldn’t believe what a big production our little show had become.

It was, to say the least, pretty spectacular to see hundreds of crew members and tons of 18-wheelers there to film what amounted to about 45 seconds or so of footage. Hope you guys were happy with the results.