NEW YORK - As filmmaker Doug Block sat in a coffee shop talking about his "112 Weddings" documentary, a stranger interrupted him to talk - at great length - about the state of her marriage.
She wasn't even aware of the film, which debuts Monday on HBO (9 p.m. EDT). The conversation she eavesdropped on enthralled her. As Block gets more exposure for "112 Weddings," during which he revisits couples for whom he shot wedding videos to ask how marriage has gone, he'd better get used to such interactions.
The New York-based Block has made wedding videos to earn extra money, and sensed from the beginning there was a film there. He made sure to retain ownership of wedding footage, although he doesn't use it without permission of the couples.
"I loved the idea of starting a movie where most Hollywood movies end, which is the bride coming down the aisle," said Block, who has delved into personal topics for his work before. He made a film about his parents' marriage and another about the empty nest syndrome when his daughter left for college (she's now, at 24, back home).
He knew the time was right when he called Janice and Alexander Caillet of Newton, Massachusetts, who talked at length about why they didn't need the official sanction of a marriage when Block filmed their "commitment ceremony." Thirteen years later, they were getting married.
Janice and Alexander believed their word to each other was a strong enough commitment for many years. Once they had children, the legal advantages became apparent. "We wanted to make sure that nothing was going to keep us apart," Janice said. "We didn't need anything to keep us together."
Some of the marriages ended in divorce. One couple has struggled to care for a sick child, another has hung on through the wife's depression. Children and job pressures take a toll, and the relationships ebb and flow. Block focuses on 10 couples, including No. 112 as they prepared for their wedding.