Editor – Justin Howard @Jthnomad
“ ‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.”
~ Lord Tennyson
“I Love You…” Those three words may honestly be the most powerful, most complex, most life-changing words of the entire English language. To say those words with any degree of sincerity to another being is to open your heart wide open, leaving you completely vulnerable. That experience can leave you damaged beyond recall when it is denied or send you to the heights of joy when it is returned in full. Film Maker Daisy Aitkens has taken on Love as the subject matter of her latest project ’96 WAYS TO SAY I LOVE YOU‘. Working closely with the film’s star David Tennant, Daisy as writer director manages to explore how different generations see Love. Which begs the question, how would you say ‘I Love You’?
The Love Question
Justin Howard – Why Love?
Daisy Aitkens – It’s the underlying theme that courses through most stories. It might be dressed up as a tale of jealousy, or betrayal, or winning the lottery but it’s all about how we relate to each other. How we search to seek out connection and feel less alone.
Justin Howard – Let’s talk about your cast… Love the narrative provided by the older woman. She lent the whole film a different viewpoint, from a generation before the rise of social media and instant communication. What was the thought behind her character?
Daisy Aitkens – I’m glad you picked up on that! That character is the wise voice speaking with the benefit of hindsight, the benefit of knowing that life can be long and love has many manifestations. It can be torturous and blissful and confusing and heart stopping but its true gift comes in ‘the showing up and staying there’ (to quote the character). Knowing you have a partner in crime, someone there for you for the long haul, is a wonderful thing.
Justin Howard – Would you describe yourself as a hopeless romantic? I got that vibe from the ending of the film.
Daisy Aitkens – On the surface, no. I want to be some sexy, bad ass bitch who smokes vogue cigarettes and quotes French films. But underneath, yeah… I do believe the aches and pains of love grow less sore with time. I haven’t always felt like that, especially after crying myself to sleep over an ex. So I suppose I wanted someone who was buried under their covers right now, to remember this film and hold on to that glimmer of hope.
Justin Howard – In the roles of the two younger people, you have individuals who truly want to express their Love. Yet society seems to telling them that to do so is ‘passé.’ What message are you as the film maker trying to get across?
Daisy Aitkens -That hiding your feelings just to appear cool won’t save you the hurt if love’s not returned and definitely won’t bring you the joy if it is. So, what’s the point?
Justin Howard – Let’s talk about being a film maker. You wrote and directed this film. What is the most surprising element of the process to you?
Daisy Aitkens -I felt like I lost time. I would look up and a day had passed. I had the same feeling as a little girl when I used to play Barbies. I would get so immersed in this world of plastic blondes that nothing else seemed to matter. I also laughed out loud during a take once, like a complete idiot. So sometimes a little more presence of mind might have done me some good.
Justin Howard – What did you learn in doing dual roles of being a writer / director?
Daisy Aitkens – Not to be precious about the writing. If I had been directing someone else’s words I might have cradled them more gently. But I was determined to just get the most honest representation of the scene. I told the actors that if the lines as written didn’t tumble out of them with ease, then to say the version of them that did.
Justin Howard – What was the most challenging part of making this film?
Daisy Aitkens – I didn’t feel totally prepared. At every stage, I didn’t know if a decision I was about to make or something I was about to say would be right. I’d take a breath and catch myself. I think everyone feels like that a lot of the time, and if you don’t, kudos. No one is ever really ready, that perfect time in the future doesn’t exist. So I’d take that breath and just see what came out.
Justin Howard – OK, time for me to be a total fanboy here. Dr. Who… What was your favorite part of working with David Tennant? You got the chance to direct him, how was it?
Daisy Aitkens – I’ve known David Tennant for a while and was very grateful that he could be in the film. He’s a friend so directing him was much like having a chat with him – easy, interesting and fun. Every take he did was hilarious yet touching. It was nothing but a lovely joy to watch during filming and when editing.
Justin Howard – Speaking of David’s character, he portrays an individual who is struggling to express his deep love for his partner, and yet he has to deal with the frustration of being with a person who doesn’t really love him… Tell me did that come from a personal experience?
Daisy Aitkens – I wanted that couple to encapsulate those horrible moments when you’re hanging out with two people who shouldn’t be together. They’re prickly with one another, covering obvious unhappiness with desperate smiles. I’ve probably been in one of those at some point but really it was from an outsider’s experience. That feeling of wanting to grab your friend, shake them and tell them to get the hell out.
Justin Howard – Speaking of dating and loving in this world of instant communication. Tell me a hilarious story about an encounter you have had.
Daisy Aitkens – I met a guy last year and he actually physically called me up on the telephone to ask me out. It was like that moment in Amy Schumer’s ‘Trainwreck’, I thought the fact that he had called and not just text or Facebooked like a normal person meant he was completely deranged and probably going to knife me on the first date. So for all my ‘be brave in love’ pontificating, I’m a perfect product of this environment. I google the bejesus out of everyone.
Daisy Aitkens – The lead character was written with Georgia Moffett in mind. She is easy to write for, I find most of her reactions to situations comedy gold. The other characters were taken from various people I’ve met in life. I wrote it pretty quickly one evening, so I guess the idea had been marinating for a while. I’ve always been obsessed with the question of love.
Justin Howard – Let’s talk about telling someone you love them. Any advice for the audience out there?
Daisy Aitkens – If you say it to yourself often enough then it doesn’t matter if the other person loves you back – you’ve got that covered. So you may as well go for it.
Justin Howard – Anything you can tell us about projects you are currently working?
Daisy Aitkens – I’m working with Georgia again and the great Phin Glynn of Bad Penny productions on a feature film that I’ve written. It’s called ‘Fish Without Bicycles’ and is a romantic comedy between two women. We already have some great cast attached so I am beyond excited. Other than that, I have some TV scripts I’m working on, and there’s the acting. You know, just hustling and praying.