Friday, 29 August 2014

How to build a rom-com

Johanna Schneller is an American-born Canadian film journalist, magazine freelancer and a 'nascent screenwriter.' She recently published an article in The Globe and Mail, a nationally distributed Canadian newspaper, on the subject of the latest Daniel Radcliffe movie, The F Word. The article is called How to build a Canadian rom-com.

The F Word. Let me jump in, for the benefit of those with overheated imaginations. The "F" word in view is... friend. (The United States censors deemed the title too risqué for a PG-13 rating, so they called it What If.) As most of you know, the worst thing you can be considered by that member of the opposite sex on whom you have a heart-thumping crush is... a friend. 


Schneller reports that, unlike many films that purport to be rom-coms, this one is both romantic and comedic. 

She spent some time at the Toronto International Film Festival with the writer (Elan Mastai), the director (Michael Dowse) and the star (Daniel Radcliffe). They helped her figure out three important romcom rules. 

Rule No. 1: Men fall in love, too.

I think men are more romantic than women, frankly. The feeling of falling in love is great on both sides. In my experience, it’s mainly my male friends who go, ‘I love her, I don’t know what I’d do without her.’ It seems to me that women can function well without men. But as soon as a man has been in a relationship for a while, if that’s taken away, all functioning goes. ~Daniel Radcliffe

Rule No. 2: Don’t cheap out on the details.
In a restaurant scene, you want 40 people, not two. You’re better off to take less money yourself and keep that $20,000 in the extras budget. And never cut the production designer’s budget. ~Michael Dowse

Rule No. 3: Don’t omit the falling in love part.

Johanna Schneller says in her article: "In a baffling number of romantic comedies, the section where the leads fall for one another is glossed over in a generic Love montage: wordless scenes of walking along the beach, feeding ducks in a park, etc. In The F Word, that montage is actually the movie. Only with words in it. And jokes."
That’s what I loved about the script. It’s so hard to write those moments of falling in love, to write the connection. Why do these two find each other so funny? Why do they want to hang out so much? We’ve all been through that first flush of, ‘This person likes me, I like her, this is great.’ Being allowed in, as an audience, to watch that intimate, fun process unfold is a gift. ~Daniel Radcliffe
The characters use the comedy as a way to flirt and get closer. The more they take the piss out of each other, the more they’re saying to each other, ‘I love you’ or ‘I forgive you.’ Instead of trying to build the moment with editing, we tried to capture the moment with writing and acting. ~Michael Dowse
Watching people connect is endlessly fascinating. In the absence of that, we’ll take other stuff – car chases and explosions and nudity. But to me those merely fill in the gaps of what we actually want, which is to watch people try to communicate. ~Elan Mastai
Read the full article here.

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1 comment:

Kathy Smart said...

I can't wait to see this movie. Perhaps Daniel Radcliffe used his influence and intelligence to choose a good, heartfelt movie to act in. I hope so.