A NON TRADITIONAL ROMANTIC COMEDY
With all of the interconnecting relationships, the filmmakers found themselves dealing with a somewhat nontraditional romantic comedy.
"An important distinction between 'He's Just Not That Into You' and most romantic comedies is that in most romantic comedies, there's a man and a woman and the question is not whether they'll get together, but how," offers Kwapis. "In our film, there are nine characters and the question is, 'Will any of them get together?'"
To answer this it's key to understand one of the finer points of the central theme of both the book and the film: the "no exceptions" rule.
"If a guy doesn't call you and doesn't call you and then still doesn't call you, the rule is he doesn't want to call you," explains Kwapis. "The exception is that he's not calling you because he's suddenly got a whopping flu and he's laid up and can't even reach to get his cell phone. Those are the rare exceptions. The rule is if a guy acts like he doesn't care, it's because he actually doesn't care. Gigi really clings to the idea that she could be the exception."
Juvonen continues, "One of the biggest points we wanted to convey is that every woman, by good rights, believes that she is the exception to the rule. She thinks, 'I'm a little bit different.' Of course, in most cases, she's not."
The producer smiles. "We are each the exception to someone, but just not to everyone. As Gigi's looking for romance, she sort of narrows down this field hoping to find the right guy and therefore become the exception. Basically, you will be the exception, eventually, if you find the right person--the person you're the exception for and he or she is for you. But only if you first consider yourself the rule."
But it's not easy. "One of the toughest things to figure out when you're interested in someone is how interested they are in you, and then try to decide whether they are sufficiently attracted to you that you can actually make a move," declares Kwapis. "A lot of the characters' actions inspired debate among the crew, even as we were shooting it. I've never heard crew guys talk about relationships the way they talked about the relationships between characters on this film. Men usually don't, but the guys on this crew did."
The director clearly enjoyed the dialogue. "We all know movies where the characters are very clearly black and white and we love them. We love to hate a villain and we love to root for a good guy. This is not that film. This is a film that plunges you into a lot of emotional gray areas."
"There are no easy, obvious answers when it comes to men and women," says director Kwapis. "What I'm really hoping is that people come away from the film with questions about the choices that the characters made. I'd love nothing more than to feel that people went out and got a coffee and disagreed about why a certain character did something."
Producer Juvonen agrees. "There's that notion that we all have, 'I need to have someone now, so I'm going to take my square peg and shove it into the round hole and hope that it feels right.' But it doesn't feel right. In the movie, we wanted to represent all of that for women and men, because when you really want something, you're willing to put yourself in a pretzel shape to make it be what you are pretending that it is. But when you finally let it go, everything starts flowing, your whole body just relaxes itself from being in something that wasn't natural, that wasn't working for you. And it feels better."
Kwapis continues, "There is messiness to life. People make choices and then regret the choices they've made. We tried to show all of that. Hopefully, there will be as many opinions as there are people in the theatre."
"Of course, we wanted to make sure there was always hope, because that's Liz and Greg's real message," says Juvonen. "Sometimes it is better to just move on and get out of a relationship--that's really what the book is saying. The line 'He's just not that into you' is supposed to be helpful for people. You don't want to be with someone who's not really, really into you and doesn't think you're fabulous. And someone out there will."
SHOOTING THE FILM
For the setting of "He's Just Not That Into You," the filmmakers considered New York and Los Angeles, but wanted a smaller, more intimate city feel. They turned to Baltimore.
"Baltimore is this wonderful city, it has such a great sense of itself and it generates its own culture," admires Kwapis. "It's very much its own town but at the same time it also has a familiar, industrial feeling. I loved the architecture, all the brick."
"Ken had worked in Baltimore before and liked the texture and color of it," says production designer Gae Buckley. "We also wanted to set the story in early fall and use an autumnal color palette; Baltimore seemed like the right choice."
Not everything could be shot on location, however, so Buckley's challenge was to turn parts of Los Angeles into the eastern town, which features buildings that date back to the 1700s.
"There are a lot of people in this movie; they all live somewhere, they all work somewhere, they all date somewhere," she expounds. "We found locations and determined what we could do to them to make them look more like Baltimore, which is primarily a brick city. And you want to avoid seeing palm trees."
One of the designer's favorite locations became the Baltimore Blade newspaper office. "It's just a lovely little space, with layers of windows and beautiful sand-blasted brick. Mary is sort of an interesting, quirky character so it was fun to put her in that place."
Other sets were also designed to mirror the personalities of the characters inhabiting them. "Beth and Neil live in a loft; he's established as an artist, and we used an actual photographer's studio for their place," Buckley says. "But it had another studio behind it, so we built a window and shot a panorama of Baltimore, with the Domino Sugar sign, and put that outside." Buckley says the billboard was a very deliberate choice.
"I was scouting with Debbie Dorsey of the Baltimore Film Commission, and she pointed out that you can see the Domino Sugar sign from everywhere in the city, so I thought, 'That has to be in the movie.'"
That wasn't the city's only iconic image to make it into the film. "There's Natty Boh, the National Bohemian Brewery's logo, a cartoon guy with a big black mustache; his face is all over town and we incorporated it into the story as well. And the Washington Monument in Mount Vernon, of course."
"It's a lovely city," Juvonen remarks. "There are fabulous restaurants, the harbor. There is plenty to do and yet it's still small; you feel like people are really living in Baltimore and can own houses or have apartments without breaking the bank or having to be wildly successful. There are great row houses that are now being renovated, and it's really an American city. It just sort of seemed like the right city to represent our realistic stories."
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS and WRITERS
KEN KWAPIS (Director) is an award-winning director who has moved easily between the worlds of feature filmmaking and television directing.
Kwapis helped launch some of the most innovative television comedies of the past decade. He directed the pilot of NBC's Emmy Award-winning series "The Office," starring Steve Carell, John Krasinski and Rainn Wilson. He was honored with an Emmy nomination for directing "The Office" third season premiere, entitled "Gay Witch Hunt," and recently directed the special two-part episode, "Lecture Circuit," airing in February. Kwapis also directed the pilots of the groundbreaking HBO series "The Larry Sanders Show" and the Emmy Award-winning "The Bernie Mac Show" for FOX. He earned another Emmy nomination for his work as a producer-director of FOX's "Malcolm in the Middle," and contributed episodes to the much-beloved NBC series "Freaks and Geeks."
For the big screen, Kwapis directed the critically acclaimed "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants," a film adaptation of Ann Brashares' best-selling novel, starring Amber Tamblyn, America Ferrera, Blake Lively and Alexis Bledel. His notable feature film credits also include the romantic comedies "License to Wed," starring Robin Williams, Mandy Moore and John Krasinski; "The Beautician and the Beast," starring Fran Drescher; and "He Said, She Said," starring Kevin Bacon and Elizabeth Perkins. "He Said, She Said" was conceived and co-directed with Kwapis' wife, Marisa Silver. His other feature films include "Dunston Checks In," starring Jason Alexander and Faye Dunaway; "Vibes," starring Jeff Goldblum and Cyndi Lauper; and "Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird," starring Jim Henson's Muppets.
Kwapis' film "Sexual Life" marked his first effort as a writer-director. Adapted from Arthur Schnitzler's play "La Ronde," "Sexual Life" premiered to rave reviews at the Los Angeles Film Festival and aired on Showtime in 2005. The ensemble cast includes Anne Heche, Elizabeth Banks and Kerry Washington.
Kwapis studied filmmaking at Northwestern University and the University of Southern California. He won the Student Academy Award in Dramatic Achievement for his USC thesis film "For Heaven's Sake," an adaptation of Mozart's one-act comic opera "Der Schauspieldirektor" ("The Impresario").
ABBY KOHN and MARC SILVERSTEIN (Screenwriters) have been working together since they met at the USC School of Cinema and Television, where they both received MFAs in Film Production. While at USC, they co-wrote and co-directed a short entitled "Fairfax Fandango," which won the Best Short Film Award at the 1997 Los Angeles Film Festival.
Soon after their student film screened, the duo sold a romantic comedy pitch entitled "Never Been Kissed." A few months later, their script was being produced as a major feature film starring Drew Barrymore. The hit film also marked the first release under the banner of Flower Films.
Following the success of "Never Been Kissed," the writing team has written for DreamWorks, Disney, Warner Bros., Spyglass and UA. They are currently working on the screenplay for "How to Be Single," inspired by a book by Liz Tuccillo, which re-teams them with Flower Films.
Kohn and Silverstein have also collaborated on several television projects. They created, wrote and co-executive produced the FOX series "Opposite Sex," and also served as executive producers on the pilots "Close to Home" and "Splitsville."
GREG BEHRENDT (Author) is the co-author of the two-million-copy bestseller He's Just Not That Into You, on which the movie is based and with which he established himself as a voice of reason for all those negotiating, and sometimes drowning in, the treacherous waters of romantic relationships. Co-authored with "Sex and the City" story editor Liz Tuccillo, the book became the publishing phenomenon of the year after its release in September 2004, shooting to the number-one slot on bestseller lists worldwide, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today. Oprah Winfrey devoted two shows to the book's simple but powerful message.
Behrendt is currently hosting SoapNet's "Greg Behrendt's Wake-up Call," a show that taps into his no-nonsense approach to relationships, and is about to see his second comedy DVD, "That Guy from That Thing," be released this spring. Behrendt will also be hitting the road with "Greg Behrendt's Totally Into You Comedy Tour." He also hosted the self-titled "The Greg Behrendt Show," which premiered in September 2006 and which featured his signature humor and advice regarding all kinds of relationships.
In 2005, he and his wife and co-author, Amiira Ruotola-Behrendt, released a follow-up relationship book offering straight talk, tough love, and hilarious (yet useful) tips on how to survive and get over break-ups. The book, titled "It's Called a Break-Up Because It's Broken," immediately jumped to the top of the charts, including the Wall Street Journal, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com, and The New York Times. They are currently working on their next book. That same year, Behrendt debuted his stand up comedy DVD, "Greg Behrendt Is Uncool," the follow-up to his comedy CD "UNCOOL."
Behrendt was a consultant for three consecutive seasons on HBO's "Sex and the City," in which he brought his original male point-of-view to the writing staff. His acclaimed stand-up comedy has been seen on HBO, "The Tonight Show," "Late Show with David Letterman," "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" and Comedy Central. He was named by Variety in 2001 as one of the "10 Comics to Watch." In April 2006, he was honored by Cosmopolitan magazine as one of their 12 "Fun, Fearless Males."
LIZ TUCCILLO (Author) was a writer for the last two seasons of the HBO series "Sex and the City," for which she wrote the episode "The Post-it Always Sticks Twice." She went on to co-write the bestselling book He's Just Not That Into You. Her second book, a novel titled How to Be Single, was published in the summer of '08, and a webisode series of the same title was also released at that time. She recently collaborated with director Gabriele Muccino on the screenplay "What I Know About Love" and a television show for Italian TV titled "Four Single Fathers."
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