‘Will You Marry Me?’ dir. David Allain

Commitment-phobe Dillon proposes marriage for all the wrong reasons when the lure of a radio show competition proves irresistible.

Year: 2011
Country: UK
Writer-Director: David Allain
Producers: Jess Gormley & David Allain
Key Cast:  Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Tuuli Shipster, Gabriel Bisset-Smith, Oliver Maltman, April Pearson, V.V. Brown, Dimitiri Leonidas, Matt Lacey, David McCusker, Laila Vakil

C8: A commitment-phobe proposing marriage to his ex-girlfriend, to win a radio show competition allows for great comic potential. How did you come up with this idea?

DA: I heard a radio show competition where the DJ proposed an even worse challenge and it all went disastrously wrong. The idea that getting caught up in a fun moment could ruin a relationship and have real repercussions stuck with me.

C8: Comedy is a notoriously difficult genre to write for- what advice would you give to writers attempting a comedy script?

DA: Keep pushing the situation. When you’re cringing but laughing at the same time, you’re probably onto something. I’m also a big fan of witty dialogue that flows between characters; building rhythm and pace is definitely important in comedy because you want people to be completely engaged in the moment.

C8: What were the biggest challenges you faced in production?

DA: Creating the sense that all of the action was happening at once despite shooting across 3 days was something I was very aware of. But I was privileged to work with an incredible ensemble cast, and they really nailed it. One of our cast had a family emergency and had to pull out a day before shooting but even then they suggested a great person to appear in their place and I can’t imagine the film now without the actor that stepped in (especially as they get one of the film’s biggest laughs every time). Filmmaking is always steeped in anomalies that throw up challenges, but there are also numerous serendipitous moments that you can gain from if you’re open to it.

C8: How does WYMM? stand up to what you originally envisioned? Is there anything you would do differently now?

DA: There’s one line of dialogue I’d tweak, but apart from that I think it surpassed my expectations.

C8: What makes for a great collaboration?

DA: Listening to each other. Even though I wrote, directed, and produced the film, I couldn’t have done it alone. I imagine it can be easy to forget this when you’re put at the helm of a project. You have all of these people working towards realising something you wrote or envisaged, but it’s good to remember why you have a cast and crew.  No one person has all of the answers.

C8: Who in the industry would you most like to collaborate with and why?

DA: If I can continue to work with like-minded creatives, that challenge yet inspire me, I’d be happy.

C8: What are your favourite comedy shorts, why do these stand out to you?

DA: There have been a few I’ve enjoyed in recent years (eg. ‘Blind Date’ dir. Joe Rosen, ‘Where Have I Been All Your Life’ dir. Jim Field Smith, and ‘Happy Birthday Jim’ dir. Giles Ripley). I think they stuck with me because they all have a great premise, and then the simplicity of the story allowed for some great comedic performances.

C8: With so many shorts being produced, what’s the secret to cutting through the noise and creating something stand out?

DA: Everyone comes at filmmaking from somewhere different so the worst thing would be to attempt to emulate anyone else too much (if at all). You can never anticipate how people will receive your film so you’ve got to make sure it’s something you’re passionate about and really believe in. That’s probably a good place to start.

C8: What does the future hold for you?

DA: I’ve been producing a lot (and working on Collabor8te as one of the Executive Producers) over the last two years but have recently directed my first short since WYMM? And also directed my first TV show. Hopefully the future holds opportunities to do better work every time and to enjoy many fruitful collaborations.