While the path of romantic love is rarely a straight forward affair, a relationship which also has to carry the weight of insecurity stoked by your girlfriend’s pornstar father’s frank observations about your sexual inadequacies is unlikely to be smooth sailing. Sparked by the particularly striking image of “a guy… in a sex shop… holding two dildos…”, Toronto-based Director Greg Fox takes DN behind the scenes of his unsatisfied romance comedy I Love You, Hannah.
A heads up, unsurprisingly there are some NSFW images in here.
What on earth inspired this tale of spiralling male sexual insecurity and dildos?
The concept for the film all began with the image of a guy… in a sex shop… holding two dildos… thinking to himself, “How the f*** did I end up here?!” The fun part was coming up with the story of how Charlie ended up in the place he did. The characters and story were drawn from past relationships I’ve had, and the sexual insecurities that stem from those relationships. The primary focus is obviously on male insecurities and the desire to satisfy your partner because ultimately you want them to be happy. I find, at least in my past experiences, that it’s often overlooked, especially in other films where the sex is always great and the women are always satisfied. It’s bullshit.
Could you tell us more about finding a balance for the story which would highlight Charlie’s issues but not excuse his behaviour, place the ‘blame’ on Hannah nor cast her as a passive victim?
Finding a balance between Charlie and Hannah’s relationship was the most important and crucial component while creating the film, especially while writing the script. The main focus was to not make either of them the so-called, ‘villain’ but rather create a situation where no one is to blame. Helping find this balance, the scripted characters had to have their various flaws but also strengths that they could rely on. Hannah had to have her own voice and reasoning behind her actions just as much as Charlie did, or else the awkward and uncomfortable argument would have no weight behind it. She had to fight back and not let Charlie’s insecurities and outlandish actions turn her into a passive victim.
How did you assemble your cast and from there further develop their characters and relationships?
Building the relationships between characters and working with actors is my favourite part of the entire process of directing. For me, it’s the most important job of the director. It can be difficult at times but also extremely rewarding when it all works out. Finding our cast was relatively easy, it’s one of those things that when that actor walks in the room and starts reading those lines, and you just know, “that’s the guy!”
The main focus was to not make either of them the so-called ‘villain’ but rather create a situation where no one is to blame.
Creating the relationship between Charlie and Hannah before shooting was important to me. I wanted the actors to have a friendship beforehand, to discuss the script and read it with each other. Basically to just get a sense of one another. We spent time reading and doing a few rewrites together which helped them get a sense of where each of their characters were coming from and why they were saying and doing these things. As a director I like to chat about the script, about my thoughts, as well as hear the actors, and chat about why, and how, and all the possible ‘what ifs’. I tend not to rehearse the scenes before we shoot. I much prefer to show up on set and let it all be fresh and preformed for the first time.
How difficult of a shoot was this?
I Love You, Hannah was shot over six days, all nights, which was definitely a struggle, but the insanely small crew, and incredibly amazing cast got the job done. The film was made on a super small budget with minimal gear, so the majority of the lighting came from practicals such as lamps, etc. which gave us the ability to move freely within the apartment and shoot virtually 360 degrees. I think the lighting and camera style complements the story and adds a gritty realism to a somewhat fantastical script.
Are you working on anything new at the moment?
I’m currently in post production (editing) a new short film I wrote and directed, called Monkey-love, as well as writing my first feature film.
I Love You, Hannah is one of the many great projects shared with the Directors Notes Programmers through our submissions process. If you’d like to join them submit your film.