TULSA, Okla. — “Unplugging” was shot right in T-Town’s “backyard,” in Oct. and Nov. of 2020.
Lea Thompson, everyone’s favorite mom from the Back to the Future trilogy, and Eva Longoria our favorite from the cast of ABC’s Desperate Housewives, star in this completely relatable, romantic comedy that was filmed on-location in Tulsa, Sperry, Bartlesville, Claremore, Sand Springs, Sapulpa, and Glenpool.
Actor and producer, Matt Walsh co-wrote the script with Brad Morris.
“Unplugging” is about a married couple, Dan [played by Walsh] and Jeannie [played by Longoria] Dewerson, who are losing their spark, much due to their phone addictions. Dan and Jeannie decide that a weekend away with no kids, in boondocks, for a “digital detox” is just what their relationship needs to reignite the passion. At least that’s the plan.
“They’re so addicted to their phones that they spiral into a paranoid state and they kind of lose control of their senses,” explains Walsh.
Can you imagine what it would be like to suddenly be out in the middle of nowhere, without a GPS, Wi-Fi, or social media, with your significant other, when anything could happen? It’s a perfect plot for the ultimate chaos.
Walsh states that the inspiration for “Unplugging” resonates with many of us, including Longoria.
“We’re pretty integrated with technology these days. To our detriment, we don’t even know how much time we’re wasting. And as a result, it’s destructive to the relationships with the people we love in our lives,” said Walsh. “Eva is essentially ‘Jeannie.’ She is a person who is on her Phone, seven to eight hours a day. She’ll admit it. She’s using it unconsciously. She has to carve out moments in her life for her and her husband. Put it down. So, the role spoke to her. It’s a very relatable problem that we all deal with.”
The storyline begins in Chicago before the couple ventures into the backwoods of Indiana.
The film tax credit was a huge reason why Tulsa, Oklahoma was chosen as the location to shoot the production.
“There’s a very midwestern sort of vibe to the Tulsa area and it matched perfectly,” said Walsh.
The project was shot during the pandemic.
“We were holed up in the Mayo,” said Walsh.
The cast and crew enjoyed working on location in Green Country, expressed Walsh. They loved the Philbrook and frequented Jane’s Deli and BurnCo., and Walsh was very sad to learn that it had recently burned down.
This production was Debra Neil-Fisher’s feature film directorial debut. Neil-Fisher has an extensive background in editing comedies like the Hangover films, Baby Mama, Sonic the Hedgehog, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, and Austin Powers 1 & 2. She says the project took about three weeks to film.
Neil-Fisher loved working with Thompson, Longoria and Walsh.
“They just had such a great repour and such a good banter back and forth. The scenes that they’re both in and Matt’s in too, they just had such a great rapport. Lea plays the off-kilter nemesis of the film that sets them off their trail. And Eva is just full of energy and full of excitement, so she leaned her fabulous energy into every scene. It was very wonderful working with both those women. I’m very very honored to have the chance to work with them,” said Neil-Fisher.
The cast and crew worked in the town of Bartlesville during the evening of Halloween. The scene took place at dawn on an empty street, but they had to film it at dusk.
“We had forgotten that it was Halloween and there were trick-or-treaters up and down the street. It was so crazy. The town was filled with people and we needed it to be completely empty. We pull our cars up and get out. We had to clear the street, but they were so lovely and everyone was so gracious. And everyone was excited to meet Matt and Eva, of course. But, [Walsh and Longoria] were wonderful and gracious to the crowd,” said Neil-Fisher.
The street was cleared and the actors and crew filmed the two shots they needed for the scene.
During the filming, Walsh recalls that they shot a scene with a raccoon named “Lulu.”
“Animals never do what you want them to do, but because we were filming in a truck that was owned by a smoker, raccoons live by scent and they hate cigarette smoke,” said Walsh. “So in addition to the trainer saying, you know, ‘Just don’t touch her, she won’t do what you want her to do. Let her just behave’ and she also said at the top of the day ‘She’s not in a good mood,’ so she was ornery all day,” said Walsh. “You can see real tension when that critter was climbing over us inside the vehicle.”
“Unplugging” hits theaters this Friday!
“On the 29th, it’ll drop on Demand. You know, anywhere on the internet,” said Walsh.
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