I'm not ashamed to admit that I can never pass up a romantic comedy--no matter how bad they can get. It's a genre that can be extremely accessible--looking at stories about love, friendships and family--but it is also one that can get stuck within in its own conventions and reinforce gross stereotypes about love, gender and sex.
At the Los Angeles Film Festival, I watched, Forev, the feature debut of directors/writers Molly Green and James Leffler. It is the most refreshing romantic comedy that I've seen in a long time. The film follows Sophie (Noel Wells) and Pete (Matt Mider)--neighbors in a Los Angeles apartment building who don't really interact with one another. Sophie, a struggling actress, is frustrated with the audition process and when Pete mentions a 6 hour drive to pick up his sister Jess (Amanda Bauer) from college, she jumps at the chance to escape Los Angeles--even temporarily. The attraction between the two is obvious and when a joke about marriage comes up on the ride--things quickly escalate.
The thought of not having to date awful people, being able to share rent and groceries and the possibilities of companionship are so great to Sophie and Pete that they decide to go for it. Before you know it, they are engaged, stuck in the middle of the desert after their car breaks down with the disapproving Jess and they can't quite figure out how to express their feelings to one another.
Forev is a romantic comedy that subverts the genre by being true to the messy, unsure area of budding relationships. Sometimes you don't know what you want and even when you do you don't know how to say it. As Forev captures, figuring out what you want in love and relationships can be the scariest thing of all.
Women and Hollywood got the chance to interview the awesome team of ladies behind Forev--director and writer Molly Green and producers Stephanie Dziczek and Meg Charlton.
Women and Hollywood: I really loved the movie. I liked that it was a romantic comedy, but took a very non-romantic comedy edge. What was your inspiration to create a movie like this when the genre is so stagnant and boring right now?
Molly Green: James, who is my writing and directing partner, he and I love romantic comedies. But, obviously it's a genre that is sort of tough. People don't give it the respect it deserves and people don't make the movies that the genre deserves. We felt like we wanted to make a romantic comedy that was real to us and was real to our experiences. We wanted to take the romantic comedy and do something slightly different with it. That was the goal. Watching it now, there are things that work and things that didn't, we were really just playing around with it. We wanted to do something in that genre that had an edge to it.
WaH: This is your first feature. How was that experience for you?
MG: It was the most fun and difficult thing I could ever conceive of in my entire life, I think for all of us. You know what you are getting into, but you don't really know what you are getting into. You are in the middle of the desert, trying to figure out how people are going to eat dinner and how to get an RV unstuck from the sand.
Meg Charlton: It's the most wonderful and the most miserable thing you've ever done in your life. It was fantastic, but I remember a quote I think Mark Duplass said "Every movie is a miracle." I feel that way about Forev. A year ago during the premiere, we were washing the RV which was also lodging for multiple people and a set. Getting stuck in the sand, literally in the middle of the desert, and thinking this might not come together. It's really gratifying seeing everyone's work up on screen.
Stephanie Dziczek: It also feels really safe to make a first feature with your friends. It feels like no one is going to judge me because I don't know exactly what I'm doing, because we are all sort of in it together. I can't imagine what it would be like to do this with strangers. For example, the RV wasn't supposed to do that. Sorry, guys.
WaH: Was this your first time producing a feature? How was that experience for you?
MC: It was different for both of us. It was a really small crew, with the complete cast there were only 12 of us on set at any given time. It was very different from producing a large scale film, it was very small. But, it felt big to us. It was a crazy experience, but it was such a learning curve and it was so fantastic ultimately. We both came out of it.
SD: One of the executive producers of 40 Years from Yesterday, Stu Pollard, is a filmmaker from Kentucky, where I am from. I remember going to a Q&A in college and asking "How do you make indie movies? What is that like?" And this poor guy stayed after everyone left, past midnight, he was bleary-eyed and answered all my questions. I went back to my dorm that night and was like, "guys, before I die, I'm going to make a movie." I knew I had the spirit. Then I did film development for a few years, which is probably like the worst place to be if you want to actually make a movie. Then I went to commercial production, which gave me all the tools I needed—this is how sound mix works, this is how an edit works. It gave me the skills to combine with a knowledge of film. I was really excited to tackle a completely worthwhile project for people I care about.
WaH: In the press materials you said that you wanted something that felt true to the reality of relationships specifically the confusion and uncertainty of them. That spoke to me and I was wondering if you could talk about that.
MG: It's a romantic comedy. But, in a lot of romantic comedies, everything is very black and white. It's been my experience that relationships are never black and white and always are just a complete mess of gray. James and I really wanted to find a way as a guy/girl team to feel what both people were going through and to see the pros and the cons of both characters. I think that having a male and female perspective together helped to make it a two-sided thing. It's not typical, but it worked, I think.
MC: Molly, what was it like being one of the few female directors in this boy's club?
MG: I'm used to it at this point. I went to film school and a lot of the time I was the only girl in the film production class. There are some moments where it's tough and you feel isolated and other times it feels like I have 15 brothers helping out. But it is great to meet another female director. I also think it's great that there are more female directors. I don't know about you guys, but there are more shows that I can relate to like Girls on HBO, a show that feels like my life. Finally!