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Young People Fucking: Or, Ways to Tease Your Audience

Young People Fucking: Or, Ways to Tease Your Audience

Articles - Directing

If you’re in the process of making a movie right now, you might want to pause and learn a quick marketing lesson from Martin Gero, director and co-writer of the new comedy Young People Fucking. Yep, that’s the lesson right there: Grab people’s attention with your title.

The Canadian film, which hit select U.S. theaters Friday, August 29, 2008, is as honest and unflinching as the title, but the chances of many people seeing it, let alone $400,000 worth in Canada, would have been slim were it not for the intriguing title. Gero himself admits as much. “At the end of the day, we’re a Canadian film, we really have no bankable stars, so to speak, and certainly no one’s like, ‘Oh awesome! Another Martin Gero movie!'” Continues the first-time director, “We needed some sort of hook. A title’s job is to be provocative and interesting. I think we’ve done that very well.”

Shortly before the film’s U.S. release, Gero spoke with MM about whether or not sticking with the title was worth drawing the ire of the Canadian government (who tried to retroactively deny the film tax credits) and how to prep a set for non-stop sex scenes.

Andrew Gnerre (MM): Now that you’re a bit removed from Young People Fucking, what are your general feelings on the film’s title? It seems to have brought on both good and bad repercussions.

Martin Gero (MG): I think the good has far outweighed the bad.

The only problem is, I think, [with] a title like that the audience brings a certain amount of baggage of what they expect the movie to be if and when they come. I think people come in expecting Shortbus. And it’s not Shortbus.

MM: One interesting thing about the film is that the stories aren’t actually connected aside from the subject matter. How did that affect the writing process?

MG: [Co-writer]Aaron [Abrams] and I had never written anything together. This is kind of the perfect movie for two guys who weren’t used to writing together to write.

He would go off and write one in its entirety and I would go off and write one in its entirety, then swap and rewrite each other’s work. We’d write another one, swap. We wrote it in two different cities, mostly over the Internet.

MM: So that was the original idea you had? To have separate stories?

MG: Yeah. The idea for the movie was… We love romantic comedies but they’re pretty sexless. And sex comedies are very virginal. So we wanted to do something that was adult and had to do with us.

You can’t ever have those stories intersect because all the situations have to do with conflict, and the second you cut to a coffee shop where someone’s talking about what’s going on, you’ve diffused all of that conflict and have to ramp it back up again. Once we started those stories there was no reason to leave and force them to intersect.

Young People Fucking

MM: I think there’s been a lot of that in recent years, movies with intertwining stories where the characters pass each other on the street here and there. It does seem kind of forced.

MG: Yeah, and totally unnecessary. A movie that is bound together by a subject or a theme, the audience is putting those characters together anyway. They all live in the same world. There’s no need to have them all hang out at the same coffee shop.

MM: Was directing always a long-time goal of yours?

MG: Well, I started wanting to be a director and then when I was much, much younger I realized, ‘What the fuck am I going to direct?’ So I stumbled into a career making a very meager living as a freelance writer and then got staffed on this show called “Stargate: Atlantis.”

That’s basically been the greatest film school ever. I feel like it’s my Roger Corman days. I was always envious of those guys that got out of film school and just got to work with Roger Corman for two years and made seven movies and figure it all out before they really had to start risking their career cache.

MM: But still, even though you came in prepared, being a first-time director with all the sex scenes in this film and just the general subject matter, were you ever worried about gaining the actors’ trust?

MG: Well, yeah. This had to be the best film set ever, basically. With the exception of Aaron and Ennis [Desmer] and Peter [Oldring] to a lesser extent, these were people I did not know until we worked on the movie. So I needed to find a way to have them not only trust me, but trust the whole crew.

People always say that casting is most of directing’s work, and I agree with that, but they forget that that means casting your crew as well. We needed the nicest people in the world working on the movie.

Also, it was really important to me that 50 percent of the crew was women, which is not always the easiest thing to do. The worst, for when girls show up to do a nude scene, is for it to just be a sausage party.

MM: What are your thoughts on the future? Do you want to continue directing?

MG: Yeah, I love it. I feel pretty happy with the movie and it’s been fairly blessed with how easy the process has been, but it’s really tough to get your movie seen. Whereas if you can get anything on TV, it’s got an automatic, built-in audience. So I’d kind of like to keep my feet in both worlds. I have a few TV projects in development and Aaron and I are just about to start our next screenplay.

It’s tough, because I really like the preciousness of filmmaking. You really get obsessed with that 90 minutes for forever. For years. There’s something really refreshing about television where you’re making 20 hours a year and there’s almost this deal you have with the audience where you’re like, ‘Listen, not all of these are gonna be awesome, alright?’

Like, what’s your favorite TV show? You forgive an episode or two. What that allows you to do then as a writer and as a creator, even a director, is say, ‘Well listen, I don’t know if this is going to work, but let’s try it! Who knows?’ If it fails, it’s a shitty episode. You don’t necessarily have that freedom with a movie. You’re more compelled to get the edit right as opposed to take that chance and I think much more interesting stuff comes out of chance.

MM: If you disappoint people with a 20-minute episode or a 40-minute episode, they’ll come back next week, regardless.

MG: Yeah, exactly. Whereas you show people a 90-minute film and it’s not so great they’ll be like, “Fuck you. I’m never seeing a movie from that guy again.”

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