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.

75 comments

  1. Wow, that’s unbelievable! I had no idea the proposal scenery was all staged. Now I need to go home and rewatch the scene AGAIN to truly appreciate all the hard work (and expense) that went into it.

  2. Wow. I would have never guessed. That is excellent! I can’t imagine how much time that must have taken, it looked so real! But I guess if some highway driver saw a Jim-Pam proposal at a gas station…word would have leaked VERY quickly.
    Thanks Gene and Tanster!

  3. Dude… I go to that Best Buy all the time! Too bad I didn’t the day they were filming. Well done to all! Definitely wouldn’t have pegged it to be the Best Buy parking lot. I figured you all just went out on some desolate road and did it up.

  4. Regarding the proposal scene:

    Being an East Coaster who has travelled the Merritt many a time, you did a credible job recreating the look and feel. I thought of the Merritt when watching the episode/scene.

    Great episode!

  5. I just wanted to say that all of that hard work paid off because I honestly thought that scene was perfect.

  6. Tanster, you absolutely rock! Thank you so much for doing stuff like this for us! I love these Q & A’s. I can’t believe how much went into that scene. It was most definitely worth it though. Thank you so much for giving us such a wonderful TV moment!

  7. I love how they put the grape soda picture on the window of the gas station. Perfection. They did an awesome job on this whole production.

  8. Wow – they did a great job. I thought the location looked authentic, I’m very impressed. Can’t wait for more Q&A!

  9. That’s awesome Gene! I’m studying to be a production designer so I was really interested to hear all that as well. Thanks so much, and we all really did enjoy it!

  10. There go all my dreams of visiting the gas station where the single greatest marriage proposal of all time was filmed. :(

    But I can see the safety issues involved with filming at a real location. You’re driving along, you see Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski at a gas station, you’re so excited you don’t notice as you drive off a cliff…

  11. So now the Best Buy parking lot in Los Feliz will become an Office shrine! Pilgrims, mark your maps!

    Thanks so much for sharing that info. We dearly love your “little show.”

  12. the result was amazing and perfect. i have no doubt that YEARS AND YEARS from now so many of us will rewatch it and it will still feel as magical.

  13. It was amazing and perfect. I have no doubt that years and years from now when we rewatch it it will still be as magical.

  14. Wow, I didn’t think it was possible for me to be anymore impressed with that scene but I am! I have no idea how much went into filming it. I think I’m even more in love with it knowning how much work they all did to make it all happen.

    Everyone behind the scenes and onscreen did an amazing job, not just on the proposal but the entire episode, thanks guys!

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