Sometimes a quirky film comes along that captures your heart and, hmm, seems to know you really well. In June of 2015 PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL MONOGAMIST was released and quickly snapped up by Wolfe Video. Written and directed by Canadians Christina Zeidler and John Mitchell, the film focuses on Elsie played by the adorably spot on actress Diane Flacks. I had the chance recently to ask the directors and star about their experience bringing this film to the big screen.
JMC: Where did the idea for the script come from?
CZ: I play hockey in a women’s league, and Johnny came to see one of my games. We were hanging out after, having a beer, and we started talking about the movies that we love, specifically romantic comedies, and how the protagonist is often an emotionally immature guy, who is kind of a jerk, but charming enough that you like him anyway.
JMC: I think you’d just re-watched High Fidelity with John Cusack.
CZ: Yes, and I was saying how we always see a guy in that role and how refreshing it would be to see a woman in that role.
JMC: I remember the light bulb instantly going off in my head, and saying that if you ever wanted to write that screenplay, I would love to work on it with you. I was drawn to the idea of doing something totally original. I thought it was a great starting point.
CZ: So, we made a pinky swear to write this story together, and see where it took us!
JMC: How do you see the future of lesbian genre specific films?
CZ: I hope our film is part of what we saw this year at festivals: a larger movement of female driven story telling, and scripts coming from many diverse voices. I hope that inspires young queers to get out and make feature films. This is part of what is amazing about queer audiences, they will take risks with films. They will go see something that interests them, not just the block-busters. Not all audiences are so adventurous. I guess what we want to see is more films getting made because the audience will be there to support them!
JMC: One of the cool things about being on the festival circuit, was meeting other filmmakers and producers, who are telling lesbian stories in a wide range of themes and genres, and seeing how those films are being embraced. Something people seem to enjoy about our movie is that it isn’t about coming out, or struggling with sexuality, no one dies. It’s about women living their lives, trying to deal with the complications of modern relationships. It’s a romantic comedy. So the audience is there for lesbian and female driven stories, and their tastes are as diverse as the people making the films, which should be encouraging to anybody with a story to tell.
Diana, what enticed you to play Elsie Neufeld? What part of your personal journey did you draw upon for this part. ”
DF: Thanks for the question. I was enticed because the script was really fucking funny and I loved the idea of a non-tragic, romantic lesbian comedy that was also about community.
I am not a serial monogamist. I have two kids and have been in a relationship for many years. But I totally have been the victim of some serial monogamists. What I really relate about Elsie is her using charm or humour to avoid issues and delude herself. To make mistakes and do shitty things. Also she does what I call “panel” – kind of enticing people and drawing them in by asking journalistic interview questions. I do that – so, tell me about you, Jan….
Also, I love someone who leaps in life, who follows her heart, and sometimes neglects her friends. I found all that appealing and real. As a mom (of two beautiful boys) I know that sometimes I look around and go, oh my god, I am so consumed by this, I haven’t seen or spoken to any friends in like, uh oh, two months?!
I was thrilled to be in a film with some of my acting and comedic heroes and some great friends.
There are dozens of reasons to see this film. For me, I love seeing the incredible lesbian comedian Elvira Kurt as the co-dependent girlfriend. A hoot. The film will be released by Wolfe very soon so watch for it. You won’t be sorry, maybe you’ll have cramps from laughing, but you won’t be sorry you did.
Jan Miller Corran is CEO of More Than Friends Film Funding, a not for profit crowdfunding company specifically focused on the LGBTQ community and women directed and written films. She is currently in development for her own film, THREE WOMEN IN A BOX.