Awards Daily chats with filmmaker Kelly Tatham about her sci-fi rom-com Multiverse Dating for Beginners, combating YouTube trolls, and living in a universe where sci-fi fanboys are nice to women.
Anyone who’s ever been on a date wishes they could go back and redo a moment over again (whether it’s good or bad). Canadian filmmaker Kelly Tatham tackles this wishful thinking in her short film Multiverse Dating for Beginners, now available on DUST.
Ivy (Sara Canning) and Dave (William Vaughn) are totally hitting it off—until she says the wrong thing and completely freaks him out. However, a glitch in the Matrix (with a magical scarf) offers Ivy the chance to see how things will turn out if she plays the dating game differently.
I had a chance to e-chat with Tatham about how she developed the idea for the film (which I first viewed and loved at the Napa Valley Film Festival), what this story would look like from the male point of view, and why she’s quit wearing scarves.
Awards Daily: How did the concept of this film come about? Were you inspired by Groundhog Day or Rick & Morty at all?
Kelly Tatham: I still haven’t seen Rick & Morty! But I loooved the first couple seasons of Community, and they definitely inspire my work. The biggest inspiration for the film was a play called “Sure Thing” by David Ives. I even named the characters Dave and Ivy in his honour. It’s a coffee shop meet-cute where two people try to “get it right” and pick the other one up. Every time they mess up, a bell dings and they start again. The films Run Lola Run and Comet were also big influences. I think parallel universes lend themselves well to love stories because when a relationship ends we’re always left with the “what if.” I made the film to explore my own “what ifs,” and to share my personal dating experience with the world; so many people in my life had experienced the same dating frustrations as me, but I’d never seen that story onscreen.
AD: Was it difficult getting the same scene with the same details RIGHT over and over again? That had to be tedious.
KT: Filming the long takes at the beginning of the film was a nightmare! The Ronin (camera rig) was glitchy, and we were walking backwards upstairs and around corners. We had a really tight shooting schedule and did not get as many takes as I would have liked. The first minute and a half of the film? That was the only usable take. But overall it was a really fun experience. Shooting it was kind of like live theatre—so many moving parts and so little time.
AD: What do you think this film would look like from the male perspective?
KT: Hahahaha. Oh man. I think most men don’t overanalyze things the way women do. Those guys wouldn’t bother telling this story. Think of Comet and (500) Days of Summer… those guys are both totally “Ivys”. The Dave character would shrug things off and then tell a story about MURDER or ALIENS (I kid… mostly).
AD: I know you received some criticism on YouTube from men, with some calling Ivy “needy” and “annoying.” Was that surprising? Especially since the point of the film is that she was desperate not to seem like that to Dave.
KT: I knew there’d be negative criticism (because YouTube), but I didn’t think there’d be THAT much. But, I mean, I get it. Ivy is needy and annoying if you’re a certain kind of guy. We all live in our own worlds… hence the Multiverse. Honestly, it’s an honour that people care enough to comment. My job as an artist is to provoke reactions.
AD: Were you nervous at all, doing a sci-fi film as a woman and entering what unfortunately is often considered a man’s space? Fanboys are known to come for women a lot, especially in social media.
KT: I actually didn’t set out to make a sci-fi film—I usually don’t think about genre when I write—but I’m so grateful it’s been categorized as sci-fi. The community has been REALLY welcoming (YouTube commenters aside). Streaming on DUST is a blessing. They’re an amazing platform with a mandate for promoting diversity and female filmmakers. We also screened twice in Silicon Valley and all the “fanboys” I’ve interacted with in person couldn’t have been more supportive. Seriously. The fanboys have been taking great care of me. I love them very much. (Shout out to Chris and Josh and Derek!)
AD: What was it like seeing it received in different festivals and different areas of the country? What were the reactions like? Were some different than others?
KT: Every festival is different, but the reactions were pretty much the same everywhere. Struggles in love and dating don’t seem to differ much from place to place. I think the film resonates more with younger audiences, but I had people of all ages coming up to say they’d had the same experiences. My favourite reactions were when men would tell me that the film made them understand women better; that was really validating.
AD: Are you working on any future films? Where do you go from here? Would we ever see a sequel?
KT: I’ve been writing a feature film in the vein of Multiverse for a year and a half now and I’m *almost* done! I’d love to film it this summer, but we’ll see how things shake out. I’ve also spent the past year or so researching consciousness and the true nature of reality. I’m currently writing a book proposal and developing a documentary series based the concepts I’ve learned and the personal experiences I’ve had.
AD: Finally, what scarf are you wearing right now?
KT: Ha! I stopped wearing scarves while promoting the film because I got sick of answering questions about its “magic.” The audience wants a cute answer, not “it’s a metaphorical tool that represents our ability to choose… ourselves.” But let me tell you about this amazing hot pink beret. . .
Multiverse Dating for Beginners is available on DUST.
Megan McLachlan is a freelance writer that lives in Pittsburgh, PA. Her work has appeared in Cosmopolitan, The Cut, Paste, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Thrillist, and The Washington Post. Follow her on Twitter at @heydudemeg.