Post by actor/screenwriter Mark Strano —
If you want to test the strength of your relationship, produce a film together. Don’t just produce it together, have your hands in everything together. My partner Wade and I co-wrote the script, he directed, I was one of the leads and we both did production design and costumes. That’s how it gets done when you’re doing a low-budget production. Luckily, we had amazing co-producers, DP, crew, and co-stars who have great pride in the project and wore many hats as well. But at the end of the day, we were the creators of this project. We slept in the master bedroom at the end of the hallway in the log cabin where we shot. We were the parents of this tightly connected family. If we fell apart, the family fell apart, the production fell apart.
This is the second collaboration for Wade and I, our first being a short film, so we worked out most of the kinks on that shoot. Any problems we had on that production, didn’t even appear on this shoot. But of course, like any great test, new obstacles arise.
We were the first to arrive at the cabin. By evening, when others had arrived, we had rearranged the bulk of the furniture by ourselves with some sort of superhuman strength fueled by our love of the project. By nightfall, I got my finger stuck in a recliner while carrying it down a flight of stairs and passed out afterwards at the sight of my gnarled finger. Yup, new obstacles had arisen.
When you both care about your work and when the work that you do is creative, things can get personal. A stuck finger can mean more than a stuck finger. It can be a sign. For us, it was a sign we had to slow down or the production was going to derail.
How do you take direction from your partner when you are feeling tired, uncertain of your skill and want to impress him more than anyone? How do you bond with your onscreen love interest when your partner is a couple feet away? I don’t know. But I do know that honesty, good communication, and realizing when you don’t know the answer always works.
I don’t know if I have advice on how to pass this relationship test. I know we passed. I think we even pulled an “A”. Did we still have several hours one day where we weren’t speaking to each other and the cast and crew had no idea? Maybe, that’s our little secret. But I know we left that house still laughing, still enjoying the experience and ready for the second part of the shoot.