Five Questions with Matt-Austin Sadowski, Tommie-Amber Pirie and Dov Tiefenbach of Pretend We’re Kissing
The Twitter handle for Matt Austin-Sadowski’s elegant film Pretend We’re Kissing is “Non Rom Com”. Though in a sense, this is absolutely correct, as the movie is definitely the antithesis of a “romantic comedy”. But in a sense, the component parts are all there: the film is comedic, at times overtly so, sometimes subtly, and it is certainly romantic. Despite being a non rom-com, the film is solidly about relationships, and this translates off-screen, which is clear in the ways that lead actors Dov Tiefenbach and Tommie-Amber Pirie interact. It is also evident that Austin-Sadowski feels aware of what his film is both about and not about. We sat down with the writer-director and the two leads to discuss the film, and they did not need to pretend.
Scene Creek: How did you decide to start the movie in such a way?
Matt Austin-Sadowski: I had a roommate who walked around naked. Quite a bit. That was the inspiration early on. I knew the whole film was going to be shot in long single takes. When you see Autumn sitting there naked. You know that we’re not cheating it. There’s a feeling of “oh, they’re not going to cut away”. Everything is here. The whole movie is going to be vulnerable.
SC: What was your biggest takeaway from the film?
Dov Tiefenbach: What I took away is that I feel like I need to work harder.
Tommie-Amber Pirie: In what regard? How do you mean?
Dov Tiefenbach: The kind of devotion and rigour that comes with being another person, especially the lead character of a film, where an audience is going to be sitting, and trying to follow your head and your heart and your desires throughout an hour and a half, is so delicate. Such a delicate, delicate process and the way that we generally work as people now, I find, that we have these phones, and we zone out a little, and after this process, I wish that I had been able to work…
Tommie-Amber Pirie: Harder?
Dov: More focused. Maybe bring a little more of myself. There’s room for your humanity in acting.
Tommie: Well, that’s what it is, bringing your humanity into the realm of pretend, which is a hard thing to do. In terms of takeaway, I hope that the audience can take away that every relationship, every connection, every meeting of a new person is different. And oh gosh! With your character it involves going after what you want, and I think that goes through the character of Jordan, and of fate and destiny.
Dov: I think that this is a story of alienation, and of the mind. The mind has a dialogue, and we’re really self-conscious. Our minds are who we think we are, and our thoughts run our lives. (The film) moves beyond thought.
Tommie: The things that hold you back?
Dov: Thought in general and the idea of you. Benny’s playing a character of himself. And it’s completely crippling in a way. And his roommate is like, “Stop being a Benny”, Stop! She’s saying “Stop. Stop. Stop. Stop. Stop”. It’s like driving off a cliff. Just be.
SC: Do you mean like in the title of the film?
Dov: I mean really, that’s a profound title: Pretend We’re Kissing. Why not just kiss?
Matt: I hope people like the movie. It’s really nerve-wracking to make your first movie. This is Dov’s first leading romantic role. But we were all very nervous and anxious and I hope that came across. Make your movie, put it out there, people will watch it if they think it’s good. Hopefully people think this is good.
SC: Have you known each other long?
Dov: Tommie’s an actress, and actresses are really good at becoming intimate and comfortable with people. We both are. You have to have to let your guard down really quickly, and she’s good at that.
SC: What do you think is the most iconic Toronto scene in the film?
Tommie: The most iconic part of Toronto is bike riding on Queen West. I see that all the time and it felt like my Toronto. I’m a biker.
Dov: To me, it’s the Island. Sometimes it is very hard to be relaxed on set.
Tommie: Very hard.
Dov: Lots of cameras, lots of people. It’s all new people.
Tommie: You kind of feel like a prop sometimes.
Dov: Go here. Stand here.
Tommie: Do this. Now here. Now! Go!
Dov: And then you go home and weep…
Dov: into your dog’s fur.
Tommie: (Laughing louder).
Matt: The mark of an independent film, (and they say I made an independent film), has come to be known for “shot on a Canon 5D, with shots where they’re finding the focus within the shot, quick cuts, lots of close-ups, macro ‘cause it’s sexy. Oh, it’s an indie film, it looks like this”. I wanted to be one of those people where it was like “oh, it doesn’t have to look like this”.