A Novel Approach To Dating
by Faruq Oyekan
A Novel Approach to Dating is a tremendously unique short film by director and writer Emmet O’Brien.
The film tells the story of Mary Sue, a gorgeous woman in pink that decides to stop at her local bar for an evening of speed dating. Mary Sue seeks love, but what she finds instead is a series of literary terms personified in the form of potential mates. Sadly, for Mary Sue (but funny for us) these literary terms are more than a little odd.
On paper this film might sound like a head scratcher. You might be thinking, this is definitely segment on Sesame Street or the classic children show Between the Lions.
But I assure you it is not. Instead, what you get is a funny, clever, and smartly written short film that uses its premise to the fullest extent.
If the title of the short doesn’t give it away, maybe this will: Never has a short film been so much PUN! No, that isn’t a typo! It’s a pun…or more accurately my sad attempt at humor.
My puns may be bad, but I assure you Emmet O’Brien’s are top notch. His humorous use of English terms, and his use of grammar and syntax jokes will leave you amazed.
The cast of this short is rather large. Its characters range in variety from a man named “Monologue” all the way to a woman named “Exposition”. The highlight of these characters, does not stem in normal film standards such as character development, but in the jokes they deliver. A rich knowledge of English and literature is showcased through these characters, and it plays out like writer porn that would have your high school English teacher drooling.
As I’ve stated again and again. This short is hilariously written, and the premise is the biggest appeal of the film. The film retrospectively is a sort of love letter to literature and writing, and it ends in the best possible way imaginable (No Spoilers!).
Comes for the puns, stay for the delivery, and leave with a couple of new jokes to annoy your friends.
INTERVIEW with Emmet O'Brien (Director/Writer)
First, how long have you been film making? What got you interested?
Well I've always had an interest in cinema. I've been reviewing films for a while and I had co-written bits and pieces but when I hit upon this idea, I definitely wanted to do it myself. So that started my film-making career even though I still consider myself a novice.
It's been a crazy 2 years of productivity though and I'm currently finishing up my 4th project. I'm very happy with it all!
How'd you come up with the story for this film?
I have a great love of puns and of language so it all came together pretty quickly as a concept. I did refine it several times and scaled back the jokes.
I originally had about a 100 single jokes but some didn't work and others were pruned while doing drafts. Originally it was going to be a job interview structure but felt that didn't give enough scope and hemmed in the piece. On a basic level I just wanted this to be a love letter to writing and grammar.
Were there any difficulties during the production of this short?
Luckily I had a fantastic cast and crew who supported me so much. There were no real problems but there were production issues. We only had a certain amount of time in the location, from 9-5 basically so this was all done under a tight deadline. The cast was huge so working out schedules and call sheets was challenging but it worked out quite well.
In a room near us a band was doing a sound check later in the day so we had to shoot in between their run through of songs. At one point if you listen carefully you can hear a snatch of music that isn't from the sound track! All in all a positive experience and I'm still amazed at the amount we got done!
What was the casting process like? It must have been a challenge to assemble that many people.
The casting was very enjoyable even as difficult as it was. Certain roles I wrote for actor friends I had in mind, Monologue for example was tailored to the actor Darragh Keating as I was well aware he could really nail the part. I'm lucky that I had a bit of a grounding in the scene through my critical writings. I knew a certain amount of the people beforehand. I did make a number of discoveries through this as well. I met the leading lady Rachel Feeney on this project and she was a revelation as Mary Sue and the auditions for that part also led me to encounter Florence Gabriel and Mary Pappin who I cast as Omniscience and Exposition respectively.
Any cut puns that you'd be willing to share?
There was so many! One date couldn't stay because he had a "qua-train" to catch, another had a tag that read "Rhetorical" and would ask exasperated, "Why is no-one answering my questions??" Mary was going to make a list of "Prose and Cons" on a prospective date, a very quiet date who turned out to be mute because he was a "Silent letter". Another date who had an "Underlining" drink problem etc. There really is so much you can do when you have such a large canvas but I think the gags I settled on were the right ones.
How has the reaction been like to the short?
It's been well received. Our premiere was a huge success and it had a nice little festival run here. I will admit that it's pretty niche, so people who like it really do but there are those are nonplussed and I understand that. It went up on-line recently and for a short that is very unusual and had no real big push behind it, within two days it had 2000 views, so I was happy with that!
What projects do you have lined up for the future?
My second film "Sleepover" is now being sent out places and will be featured in a local festival here next week. Currently in post-production on two films "Comic Potential" a modest super hero short (co-written and co-directed with Ross Carey of Kino Shout Productions). Here is the Facebook for that and the page for his company too.
I'm also involved with an animated piece called "Same Old Song and Dance". Art by Cethan Leahy (http://cethanleahy.wordpress.com/) and an animation by musician David Nelligan (http://davidnelligan.tumblr.com/)
I'm aware that I've given a lot of links there but I'd really urge people to check out these pages. I'm very much of the belief that everyone involved deserves their credit and I couldn't have done these projects without them. Also just a talented bunch of people who you should check out!
Any advice to filmmakers? Any advice for writers?
As much as I love film, I try to write over all different media, articles, poems, short stories, scripts etc. My advice for writers would be to explore all of them and find what works for you but don't feel bound to any one aspect. I consider myself a writer, not a screen-writer, or an author, or whatever. Some might consider it a bit too broad but I like being able to jump from one discipline to another.
As for filmmakers just find a crew that you can trust. As I previously said I'm lucky to be surrounded by talented folks I enjoy spending time with and working on things with. It's vital to have a decent rapport with a crew!