As chilling temperatures and scattered snow flurries enveloped the cozy Midwestern town of Belleville, Illinois, the warm lights and bright, cheerful faces of the cast and crew of Expect Delays walked the red carpet for the film’s premiere. Pulling up to the event in vehicles from Gateway Classic Cars (located in nearby O’ Fallon, IL), members of the film graciously took the time to answer questions and pose for pictures before finding warmth in Belleville’s Lincoln Theatre.
Expect Delays World Premiere
By Bethany Rose
I first spoke with cast member Erin Strausbaugh.
Bethany Rose: Was this your first film?
Erin Strausbaugh: I actually was in Up in the Air with George Clooney, so this is my second.
Bethany Rose: What was your role in that film?
Erin Strausbaugh: I was a flight attendant.
BR: And your role in Expect Delays?
ES: I was a waitress, so ironically in both of them I carried trays of beverages.
Cast and crew of the film arrived in pairs, and Erin walked the red carpet with Nathan Huber.
BR: Nathan, was this your first film?
Nathan Huber: This was my first full-length feature. I’ve done a lot of short films and music videos and some commercials, but this was my first full-length feature, so it was definitely a new experience for me.
BR: And what was your part in this film?
Nathan Huber: I was the gaffer, so I did all the lighting and electrical work for the director of photography. And I did anything else they wanted me to do.
The next pair I spoke with were Albert James Mondino and Mike Cowan.
BR: Albert, I hear you have a song in the film. How did your music get picked?
Albert James Mondino: I was scrolling online and stumbled upon the [Expect Delays] website. I knew that they were casting at the time, but I sent them an email asking them if they were looking for a composer. They told me to send a couple songs over and six months later here I am! I couldn’t be more happy to be here.
I spoke with Mike Cowan during my coverage of the Belleville* premiere, and after seeing his work in Expect Delays I knew exactly what question to ask.
[*Note: I was recently informed that Belleville‘s official title is now Neila. Any future mention of the film in this, or other articles, will use the new title.]
BR: Tell me about your role in this film. I noticed your character was similar to your role in Neila.
Mike Cowan: In [Expect Delays] I am a disgruntled traveler. Basically if the guy is able to be happy that would be a miracle. It’s pretty much the same character being brought over from [Neila] but now he’s going on vacation to meet some hot chick he met on “Christian Jingle.” Of course he’s gotta wait because the flights are canceled, so I don’t get to meet my hot chick from “Christian Jingle.” That’s a good motivator for being mad.
I always enjoy speaking with the crew of films, so I was thrilled to talk to Rachel Farrell and Yvet Holmes about their work.
BR: Yvet, you were the film’s associate producer. What does that entail?
Yvet Holmes: That means I take care of the extras to make sure all their forms are filled out correctly before we shoot any scenes. It also means that I do a little bit of management with the production assistants and make sure that they know what they need to do for that day.
BR: Have you been an AP before?
Yvet Holmes: No, this is my first film that I actually did. I went from a [production assistant] in America Ninja Warrior, and then I was associate producer on this film.
Rachel Farrell served as the set designer (along with a role as an elf) for this film, and I had discussed some of her responsibilities as a set designer during the Neila premiere.
BR: What was it like working on a Christmas movie in warm, warm weather?
Rachel Farrell: It was difficult. It’s hard to get into the mood, the groove. So we played Christmas music. Once you get in the house [the major set for the film] it felt like Christmas, so that helped a little bit, making us feel like decorating for a Christmas movie. But once we looked outside we were like, “Oh! It’s not Christmas.” That was the biggest challenge, but it was fun.
The next pair I spoke with were Kate Barton and Nicholas Gianini. They played best friends in the film.
BR: How did you approach playing best friends?
Kate Barton: I think we approached it in a very good way. The first thing we did when we met each other was, it was during some downtime, I said, “Hey, let’s go on a walk.” And then we just emotionally dumped on each other. [Laughs.] I would say, “Hey, what’s going on in your life?” Things you’d tell your best friend and not a complete stranger. It was fun. We got along. I brought him coffee on our day on set together. It was easy being best friends.
Nicholas Gianini: She got me at the coffee and that was it. We’re besties.
BR: That’s really all it takes. Coffee.
Nicholas Gianini: Yes. [Laughs.]
While the entire red carpet event is an exhilarating experience, I was particularly excited to see cast members William Conklin and Alie Morgan approaching. Usually the film’s cast and crew are the ones to surprise me with their stories about their work, but this time I had a surprise for one of them!
BR: Alie, how did you end up in the movie?
Alie Morgan: I’m actually good friends with Ted [Trent]. We’ve been friends since I was in seventh grade and he was in eighth grade.
BR: Nice! And your scene was filmed at a restaurant. What was that like?
Alie Morgan: We got our food first, and we got to eat about half of it. Then they took us back to where they were filming the scene and we sat and had to eat really slowly, so we still had the food every time they panned the camera.
William Conklin plays Uncle Heath in the film. I played coy as I asked him my question.
BR: I heard you received some rave reviews for your performance.
William Conklin: There was a magazine review that came out, and I was excited about that because they mentioned the character. What I like about it is that Dan [Steadman] gave me layers. I was a little bit of comic relief but I have a serious part so I’m not just a clown.
BR: That was me. I wrote the review.
William Conklin: That was you?! I loved that review. Thank you! That review made me feel good because it was exactly what we were hoping for, that it wasn’t just a clown. That meant a lot.
Margery Handy and Antonio St. James played mother and son in the film. Their connection onscreen was evident in real life as well.
BR: Tell me about your roles in this film.
Margery Handy: I play a single mom named Alice, and Antonio plays my son. It tells you a little about the journey between mom and son, and some of the trials and tribulations that we go through. I guess more that I go through than him. For me it’s about that single mom journey.
Antonio St. James: It’s actually kind of based off real life because my mom was a single mom who raised me. It’s like picking it up from there, bringing it onto the set, and I had an amazing woman to play my mom. I love her. We’re like best friends.
Margery Handy: We really are. We really bonded. He’s a good guy, just like my real son.
Next up were real-life mother and son, as one of the film’s stars, Ted Trent, walked the carpet accompanied by his mother, Jolene.
BR: Your role in this film is quite different from your role in Neila, tell me about your character in Expect Delays.
Ted Trent: I play Alec, a real estate agent from Chicago, and in real life I’m a realtor from LA, so Dan Steadman wrote true life to some extent. I’m excited about all the various stories you’re going to see, from mothers and fathers, to brother relationships. My character is more about the relationships we have at Christmas. Neila was about the alien. This one’s about the family.
Jolene: I haven’t seen the film, so I am excited!
As Christmas music continued to play through the event, and excited moviegoers made their way into the Lincoln, the red carpet portion of the evening ended with the film’s writer and director, Dan Steadman.
BR: Why did you want to tell this Christmas story?
Dan Steadman: I wanted to tell this Christmas story because there aren’t a lot of movies for adults. I feel like most films are geared towards children at the holidays. And I know I love movies like The Family Stone and Love Actually and Home for the Holidays, which is a Thanksgiving movie. I thought this was an opportunity to get to use actors from St. Louis who had small roles in Neila and get to expand them into large leading roles in this film. They are so good that they deserve leading roles!
Don’t forget to check out my review of the film by clicking here
Photos by Bethany Rose