The Art of the Indie Rom Com: Part One

Romantic comedies are serious business, oxymoron aside. Unless you have been living on the moon, you probably know how much money these flicks pull in every year. If you think that these movies are making money because they are actually good, then you are a moron. They make money because they are easy to make, focus on a formula that is tried and true, and make people go to their happy place. Recently I have been nostalgic for my olden days (being a mere two years ago) of being a film major at James Madison University, the greatest place on earth. This has inspired me, along with my fellow SMAD alum chum Vincent, to write a screenplay. But not just any screenplay, the ULTIMATE INDIE ROM-COM (!) screenplay. So, I present to you my ULTIMATE INDIE ROM-COM how-to guide: how to get one step closer to being best friends with Zooey Deschanel and marrying Joseph Gordon-Levitt.


The Leading Lady and Gentleman

The couple of the indie rom com will most likely look one of these match-ups:

Indie rom coms are a tad different than your Katherine Heigl sort. For starters, the male lead will be the antithesis of Matthew McConaughey: distinct lack of muscles and/or body fat, strong sense of wit, a wardrobe of sweater vests, and a laundry list of required traits in a woman that makes Ted Mosby’s look mild. They are likely hopeless romantics, a nice guy who finishes last, and master of the mix tape. Their trademark accessories include a vinyl record player, flannel long sleeve shirts, and Van sneakers. The lovable nerd with a heart of gold and more beautiful hair than I have.

The ladies are a little easier to identify, thanks to bangs, vintage inspired clothing, and fashionable spectacles. You’re probably on a casting director’s list if you are as cute as a button, play the ukulele, and watercolor. They are easy to pick out in a movie because of the direct lack of angst, their references to unheard-of bands, and charming quips. Show me a woman that hasn’t wished they were Jenny Lewis and I’ll show you someone who has seen all of Jennifer Aniston’s work post-Friends.

And Their Bizarre-o Friends

Casting the lead’s friends can be almost as tricky as casting the lead themselves. While the leads should be quirky and charming, their friends usually fulfill men and women stereotypes. Your leading man writes greeting cards? Well, one of his friends is probably a plain old doctor. Yeah, its boring, but the goal here is to make the leads look as indie and irresistible as possible. It provides them depth that wouldn’t be possible without a little bit of ordinary thrown in there.

If you are sitting there thinking about how all of John Cusack’s friends were record store clerks like him and that totally doesn’t fit the formula…then you are correct. So, the strategy of option B is to cast the weirdest, nuttiest, probably-would-be-on-the-verge-of-entering-a-psychiatric-hospital sort of people you can think of. These individuals are most definitely not doctors because they never went to college. Maybe they invented some kind of silent Velcro, work at Medieval Times, or have a trust fund. Whatever they do, or however they look, it’s of absolute importance they pale in comparison to the leads in both looks and personality.


Part Two…coming soon…


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