Sasha Collington Interview

LOVE TYPE D premiered at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Director Sasha Collington spoke to Jim Ross about the film, whose review you can read here.

Jim Ross: First of all, thanks for talking to me. Congratulations on the film, LOVE TYPE D. It’s your first feature film. What was it about this film, in particular, that made it become your first feature, as writer and director?

Sasha Collington: I had a short film called LUNCH DATE, that was basically about a young boy that’s sent to dump his brother’s girlfriend, and so that played some festivals. I then met a man that wanted to invest in a feature. So at that point, I hadn’t actually written the feature, but he was very keen on those characters being in it. And so I thought, what can I do with these two characters? I thought, well, she can either pursue the boyfriend, but then what’s interesting about that? And so that’s why I kind of start to think about the idea of the gene – what if she had always been broken up with by many, many people? In the film, we have her getting broken up by song, as well, and what if it was to do with like, a certain genetic disposition? Because I’m very interested in science, despite having no gift in science whatsoever!

JR: So where did you come across this term, epigenetics?

Sasha: I read about epigenetics. And I’m not a scientist but the idea is that the things that happen to you, within your own lifetime, can affect your genetic code. And so essentially, your genes can be switched on or off by events that happened to you within your own lifetime. And I thought that was incredibly interesting. I like the idea that, because of a decision the main character made when she was 12 – so going out with some boys for four and a half days – she’s kind of trapped in this pattern for the rest of her life. I think it’s very interesting, the idea of romantic patterns: you know, are you forever dating exactly the same person but with a different hairdo? Or are you forever making exactly the same mistakes: behaving a certain way in relationships, and then blaming the other person, but then going and doing it all over again. And I think it’s all those things. That helped me to develop the idea, but I think it was initially inspired by some articles I read about epigenetics, genes, and behaviour really.

JR: It even brings in the idea of nature versus nurture. This idea of how much of how you are is your own experiences versus almost a kind of genetic fate. Is that something you were trying to get through in the script? That it’s always a balance between the two.

Sasha: Yeah, I think the film seeks to explore the sort of nature/nurture debate. I think there’s a scientist out of California that was saying that he could predict what would happen to you from a baby, whether you would get divorced or commit suicide? That whole idea of to what extent is your life predetermined, to what extent are you master of your own destiny – I’m really interested in that, because, obviously, no one quite knows the answer, including people who are really clever and so I think the film explores a bit of that theme. Is the universe sabotaging Frankie, the main character? Or is it her behavior that’s driving people away and her bad decisions that are creating problems in her life?

“I did think about the conventions of the romantic comedy genre. I did want to do something, I suppose, that was a little different.”

JR: I’m just wondering if this was done consciously or just comes about as a result of the approach to do it as a comedy. But one thing that I did quite like is the film subverts the win-him-back trope. The reason she starts down this path is to try and improve herself from the start, rather than pining after an ex and realising it later.

Sasha: I think is something I thought about. And I did think about the conventions of the romantic comedy genre. I did want to do something, I suppose, that was a little different. I guess it was in the 90s romantic comedies had this massive heyday – I was a teenager and the idea that the film has to end with happily ever after until the credits roll, it feels maybe a bit old fashioned and that people want something perhaps a little more thought-provoking. I’m not sure but it was definitely something I thought about, trying to kind of see if we could, you know, do anything with the genre and what was expected of it, or how a character would normally behave.

JR: How did you go about finding Maeve – who plays the lead role of Frankie – because she has quite a balancing act to do? She needs to be very likable, we need to root for her. But at the same time, she can’t come across as perfect because she’s not having a lot of luck, necessarily, in her interactions with people.

Sasha: Yes, it was actually very hard to cast that role. We saw a lot of different people and I think it was something like two weeks, maybe four weeks from our shoot. It was very close and we hadn’t cast the role. I had seen her at a film in Berlin and I just found her so funny. She was very deadpan and very serious, but funny. And so in the middle of the night, I got on my laptop, and I emailed an agent in Australia. And I said something like “This is a bit crazy, but we’re shooting this independent British comedy. I just wonder if she would read for it.” And yeah, and she did! She came over from Australia to do it. She was just someone I had in my head for a while, because I think it is a delicate balance with the character and also some of the things she does in the film are…a little unethical, let’s say…and you do want people to feel sympathetic towards her and continue to feel sympathetic. I was really really pleased to have her on the project. I think that she’s got a great balance of comedy and deadpan, that feels to me entirely believable.

JR: And the person who spends the most time on screen alongside her is Rory as Wilbur. What made you want to have him – or less specifically someone who’s much younger – be her shepherd through this process in the film?

Sasha: I’m very interested in intergenerational friendships, I think it’s an interesting thing; what you can learn from somebody quite a lot older or younger than you? I really enjoyed writing Wilbur – he was very fun to write his lines and stuff. But I like the fact that because he has never had a relationship, because he’s never fallen in love – he’s too young, he’s only 12 – this is a whole world that isn’t yet started for him. I like the innocence, that he doesn’t understand. Therefore he has a pragmatism that gives him a certain truth, you know, in the way he’s able to see things. I also find it interesting the fact that…has he had a female friend before? Is this the first female friend he’s ever had? But she just happens to be 27?

“I’m very interested in intergenerational friendships, I think it’s an interesting thing; what you can learn from somebody quite a lot older or younger than you?”

JR: I’ve seen you’ve spoken about the likes of GROUNDHOG DAY and BIG being an inspiration for this? What was it about that approach – the high concept comedy – do you think communicates the themes in the script best?

Sasha: I guess we chose the concept to explore the idea that you can feel you’re uniquely doomed to fail in a way quite particular to you, whilst others are going to succeed alongside you. The concept allowed for, I guess, a bit more movement in exploring the themes of what happens to people after a breakup. I watch these very interesting TED Talks by this scientist called Helen Fisher, where she puts people in an MRI scanner, who’ve just been dumped basically, and what they discovered is that the attachment feelings increase, so whatever chemicals in the brain associated with attachment are actually stronger after someone’s broken up with you. I think the concept allows me to explore some themes about love, where people who are otherwise kind of put together in their lives, can go completely mad if they have a breakup. How do you deal with those things? I think it’s interesting.

JR: This is your first feature film, and how have you found that process? How has it differed compared to the creation of your short films?

Sasha: I think it’s just a lot longer time commitment. It’s quite a transition to go from a short to a feature, I think – a bit of a baptism of fire at first, I suppose. Especially when you’re doing on a low budget, things can and do go wrong, quite frequently, on an independent film shoot it. LOST IN LA MANCHA is like one afternoon on LOVE TYPE D with things going wrong. I think the challenge is really on a budget level. It’s a balance in independent film between what you can afford, and then how much money you perhaps lose on the day. If your location falls through, maybe your lunches are delayed by three hours. I raised the finance for LOVE TYPE D. So that’s something that I had not done before, you know, I did raise the finance for the short via Kickstarter, but that’s completely different than pitching to private equity investors. That’s a skill I acquired during the making of the film that is probably quite useful.

JR: What made you want to submit it or screening at the Edinburgh film festival?

Sasha: I thought about it for a while with Edinburgh, because I’d come here a very long time ago, and I really, really liked it. Edinburgh has got a great reputation. It’s such a beautiful city. I was really keen for us to have the film here.

JR: Are you planning to have the film go on the festival circuit for a while, or move – hopefully – to a release of some sort?

Sasha: I think a bit of both would be nice, because obviously going to film festivals is such a reward at the end of this marathon you’ve had to run, almost like where you get invited to a big party, and to try and forget all the work you do. Ideally, it would be nice to, to do both. With a comedy, I think it’s always nice to watch it with an audience. It is very nice for me to sit in on public screenings with a lot of people.

JR: You’ve finished LOVE TYPE D and will be on the film festival circuit for a bit, clearly, but what’s next for you in terms of production?

Sasha: Well, I’m actually working on a couple of ideas for episodic series. I want to keep in the comedy genre, and also bit high concept and I definitely love having a bit of science in the story. That’s what I’ve been working on. I’m also starting a part-time MBA, so I can build a company at the same time as developing the creative projects, to build a new film and TV production company.