Love Etc: A Q&A with Jill Andresevic
Love Etc. (www.loveetcthemovie.com) is an upcoming documentary that follows the relationships of five couples in New York City’s five boroughs.
By documenting 15 months out of the lives of five different couples, Andresevic takes a magnifying glass to the enormously complex subject of love and relationships.
What emerges is a fairly realistic snapshot of not just what it’s like to fall in love, but more importantly, what it takes to maintain a healthy relationship.
Coming off my experience with Our Liner Notes, this is a topic I am all too familiar with. So I suppose it goes without saying that I was instantly able to draw comparisons to Love Etc. and Our Liner Notes.
I sat down with the director, Jill Andresevic, where we discussed the film, love and relationships, and what it takes to make a relationship work.
How did you first come up with the idea for Love Etc.?
Jill Andresevic: The idea came from Jonathan Tisch and his fiance Lizzie Tisch when they were standing in line for their marriage certificate at City Hall in New York City. All around them, people of different ethnicities, from different countries, all ranging in age and socio-economic backgrounds, were all waiting to do a similar business transaction based on love. That room represented a snapshot of the world, and at the same time a snapshot of New York City. This was the beginning of the film and where the inspiration came from.
Hollywood is known for its misleading or glamourized representation of love and relationships. But at the same time, reality television has contributed to this problem as well. How were you able to portray these themes in a realistic way with Love Etc.?
JA: This movie is about everyday love. It’s a true documentation of five stories set in New York City over the course of a year. The intention of the film was to create an honest and authentic portrayal of what happened to these individuals (ages 18-89) over the timeframe we documented them. There was no attempt to glamorize their lives, the focus was on telling their stories. The end result is a film that examines what real love looks like - in real life, unscripted.
How did you come across these five couples? Were there originally more couples?
JA: The casting of the movie was a feat in and of itself. It was a time consuming process that involved “hand-casting” the individuals through a combination of street casting, research, and email blasts within targeted networks of people. We never found one person off a Craigslist ad, although a few ads were placed. Our goal was to uncover people with lives that fit with our subject matter, who were diverse, compelling on camera, comfortable in front of the camera, and had a sense of humor about themselves and the world.
We started filming approximately 10 stories, which quickly dropped to seven and in the edit we made the decision to cut two stories leaving 5 stories in the final film. Personally for me, it was a very difficult decision to cut two of the stories after filming people for over a year.
How frequently did you follow these couples throughout the two year documenting process?
JA: I don’t have exact numbers, I know we shot approximately 80 days (including pick ups) over the course of 15-ish months. How often we shot with a subject was based on what was happening in their lives, which varied. For example, we shot almost 5 days in row during the Indian wedding, because that was an important time in that couple’s life.
Obviously it takes a certain level of trust to allow people into your life and see the inner workings of your relationship. How long would you say it took for these five couples to bestow this trust in you?
JA: This is a difficult question for me to answer, as it’s hard for me to step outside myself and analyze how long it took for me to build trust with each person. I can say I had an automatic rapport with everyone immediately otherwise I wouldn’t have started filming them, and I don’t think they would have agreed to let us film either, if that mutual feeling didn’t exist from day one.
I came across the website of your previous documentary, I Heart New York: A Love Story, which seemed to more or less have the subject matter as Love Etc. Was this a project that eventually transformed into Love Etc.?
JA: “I Heart New York: A Love Story” was the working title for the film when we started development. As of now that website is still up, and the film short on the site represents what I shot over 3 days in NY with my production team before the film was fully funded, to demonstrate to the financiers how the film would look and feel. Once we were funded, we also showed the “funding teaser” to potential key crew (our DP / producer etc.) and potential subjects. It was helpful for us to share the teaser with crew and potential subjects, as it gave them a visual and tonal reference for the film.
Albert and Marion first bonded over their common passion for music (a subject I am all too familiar with). How important a role do you think music plays within a relationship, bringing two people closer together?
JA: Music was the reason Albert & Marion came together in business first (as song writer & composer) and later as husband & wife. In their relationship, music played a key role, as the glue that brought them together and has helped hold them together over 49 years.
I think music plays a greater or lesser role in a personal love relationship depending on what music means to each individual in the relationship. For example if two rocket scientists fall in love, music may not play a role at all in bringing them closer together, unless one or both of them had a natural affinity for music. That being said, I think if a couple has a mutual affinity for music, that is another element that can bring them closer.
After just a couple of months of interviewing my subjects for Our Liner Notes, I was sad to see it end. So I can only imagine how you felt after more than a year of interviewing the five couples. Have you stayed in touch with the couples?
JA: I am deeply grateful for the time and access that everyone in all the stories gave me and my crew. It was a life transforming experience for me, as I will never see love in the same way. I stay in touch with everyone that is in the movie.
Was there an overlying theme you found in interviewing and documenting the relationships of these couples? Has it affected your own perception of love and relationships?
JA: Love is what we all want, but it’s not easy. To love someone is a choice, and it requires commitment and effort, and should never be taken for granted. Love is not a fairy tale, i.e. you meet Prince Charming and then the happily ever after part happens. That is not real life. Even if someone said they met the “real Prince Charming” and they are in a magical happy relationship, that means they are a. lucky, b. they made a good choice, and c. somewhere behind their curtain, they put sweat equity into the relationship and effort to make it work. That is my take away after two years of total immersion in the subject… oh and one more thought … don’t ever give up on love. That is the other important thing I learned. I believe now more than ever, love is possible anytime, at any age, it’s a matter of desire and willingness to put forth the effort. It’s our human condition to love and to want to be loved.
Love Etc. premieres at Toronto’s Bloor Cinema on April 6 as part of the Doc Soup presentations. It opens in select cities this summer.
Love Etc: A Q&A with Jill Andresevic
Aux TV Weekly feature on Our Liner Notes
A screen shot of the blogTO Q&A.