Andrew Barchilon and Emily Ting’s short film The Do It Up Date hilariously speaks to the absurd process of dating.
Emily joins us on Close-up Culture to tell us more about the film following its premiere at SXSW Film Festival.
Q: Do you have any fun or bizarre date stories to share?
A: Oh man. I’m going to leave out some embarrassing details about this one – but, many years ago, during a date, I ended up in a conversation with a bear hand puppet named Mr. Bear.
Once that raggedy bear puppet got involved, my date would only communicate through Mr. Bear. I was like, “Mr. Bear, I have nothing to say to you right now,” before leaving their apartment and never seeing either of them again. It was nuts. I kind of wish past me had tried harder to talk to that bear, because I’m so curious where that was going, but at the time I just couldn’t do it. Dating is hard.
Q: The visual style plays a big role in humour of the film and I imagine your experience as a costume designer helped. Can you talk about that aspect of the film?
A: The story itself is very childlike, so we used our kid brains to make a lot of the creative decisions for the film. We shot what the voiceover talked about and the actions that made us giggle.
Our childhood notions informed a lot of the art and costumes; cartoons were common references. Shayla’s shoes were like these shoes that my mom had. As a kid I thought they were the fanciest, most grown up shoes in the world, that I would definitely wear if I ever went on a date. So I was pretty adamant about Shayla wearing them.
Q: You have worked with Andrew Barchilon before on ‘The Eric Andre Show’. What was it like collaborating on this project?
A: We have built up a lot of trust over the years so it felt pretty natural. The Eric Andre Show is such a crazy show to work on, having done it (repeatedly) really helped build up our confidence that we can pull off some crazy feats.
Q: You were working with good friends and shooting some truly bizarre scenes. What was the atmosphere like on set?
A: Focused! We had to shoot everything in one day so we had to move really quickly. I’ve been on quite a few comedy sets, many of which were quite absurd, including this one, and it’s always surprising to people how seriously we take everything.
It did get a little loopy at the end. It was approaching midnight and we were in the bathroom/restaurant and had just broken a sink. It smelled delicious because our production designer, Corey Glenn, was actually just breading and deep frying rolls of toilet paper and we were shooting the slow mo stuff. A lot of it was just Josh and Bridey laughing and shoving toilet paper into their mouths and it was so funny that we were just letting it go on and on. Our producer finally asked, “you think we have it?” – and we were like, “oh, right, we should probably wrap.”
Q: This is your directorial debut. Can you tell us about your background and why you felt ready to start directing?
A: Well, first I studied nonsense in college. My actual major was “Art, gender, and sexuality” which applies to nothing and everything at the same time. I started in fashion and then started working as a costume designer about 7 years ago. It felt like learning about and understanding the filmmaking process as a whole would make me better at costume design, so I just started paying attention and asking a lot of questions.
It wasn’t long before I started forming my own opinions on elements that fell well outside of costumes. As those opinions got stronger and more defined, it reached a point where I just kind of had to give it a shot.
Q: Do you think this short film is a good marker of the type of content you want to create?
A: I’m still figuring that out! I think the mindset going into making The Do It Up Date is something I’d like to repeat – it felt very clear to me what it wanted to be as a film and I felt like my perspective could help it become a special little nugget.
I loved making The Do It Up Date, but I would like to try other things as well. And a feature. I’d like to make a feature.
Q: ‘The Do It Up Date’ premiered as part of the Midnight Shorts Competition at SXSW. How exciting was that?
A: So exciting. It’s a little overwhelming. I didn’t think about the fact that being a director involves a lot of networking and public speaking. I have stage fright, so a Q&A is my nightmare. But I’m dealing with it because it’s just so cool that our little film has been on a big screen in a theater and a bunch of people have seen it. That’s so wild!