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“I Love You Both”: Interview With Writers Doug and Kristin Archibald

 

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We interviewed Doug Archibald and his sister Kristin who wrote and produced their first feature I Love You Both – a film about a brother and sister (twins actaully) who are dating the same guy. 

Living in St. Louis and dreaming about writing and producing movies can feel like a long way from actually getting produced. In this interview the brother and sister duo share how they did it, their writing habit, juggling budget and creativity and much more. 

Enjoy!

How did you come up with the idea for your latest movie I Love You Both?

Kristin: The humor and family dynamic is definitely based on us as real people. We wanted to write a family sibling story. When we started writing, we remembered a time in high school when we both liked the same person for one day.

Upon discovering that we both liked the same person, we immediately both stopped liking that person, but we thought it was a good idea for a story since we wanted to write about co-dependent twins and a boyfriend would be one of the few things they couldn’t’ share that would be a good catalyst for them becoming more independent people.

Watch the trailer below:

What inspired you to start a career in film? Were there any particular movies or screenwriters who turned you onto writing and acting?

Kristin: I always wrote for fun. It was how I spent my time. I initially thought I loved photography and I went to school for fashion design but realized the part I loved was the production of the fashion shows, selecting the music and the story behind the collections I was making.

I think I was always a filmmaker, I just didn’t realize that’s what I was doing. When I was younger some of my favorite films were Magnolia Pictures films and I didn’t realize that at the time either. It’s very surreal that in the end we were picked up by our dream distributor.

Doug: I did a stop motion project in sixth grade and was introduced to iMovie at the time. I was always more inspired by the mechanics of filmmaking than any particular writer or director. That might be because I like a lot of movies/directors/writers and I will probably like a movie even if just one scene makes me feel something unexpected. But I am obsessed with every aspect of the process from writing to making the film.

How do you get through a script? Do you have a set working routine?

Kristin: We’ve always written well together but much better now than even when we started. We’ve written almost every weekend for over five years and many many twelve hour days. It’s what we love to do.

Doug: Most of our work happens in the outline stage. What works best for us is a giant stack of notecards and sharpies. Personally I can’t sit in front of a computer screen and outline anything: trying to organize my thoughts in Microsoft Word is a nightmare. I have to be physically active to keep my mind going – otherwise I’ll go in circles.

Our process usually involves us listening to music, standing in front of a blank wall drinking giant iced coffees, writing ideas on notecards and taping them up. I also have to wear sweatpants or workout clothes (we refer to it as our writing suits).

Getting a hundred notecards taped to the wall even if we don’t end up using them helps get the ideas out of our heads. No ideas are bad at this point (well….most). Once we have a basic outline and we know the beats, then we start heavily outlining scene by scene in Final Draft, nailing down exactly the point of each scene and what the characters will talk about in generic terms.

Once that is revised many times and we’re happy with it, then we write out the actual dialogue. For that, sometimes we split and write separately and sometimes we talk it out together.

Kristin: I think whoever your writing partner is, whether it’s a friend or business partner or family member you have to fully trust that person and always put your egos aside and know that you’re both putting the story first.

It’s hard writing with another person when you have to make tough choices. During those times you have to trust that the other person’s opinion is based solely on the idea that they feel it will benefit the story.

We’ve had very few disagreements but we’ve also gone through different ways of working together such as dividing up scenes entirely or sometimes even both writing the same scene and taking the best parts.

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Can you tell us about the process and challenges between writing the script for “I LOVE YOU BOTH” and getting it produced?

Doug: Raising the money to produce it was a huge challenge. What seemed to have a big impact for us is that we made a pitch trailer, had friends who watched it and wanted to help produce it, and also I had line produced a feature before (for the producer of my film) so I had been through the process of budgeting and getting started.

We shot some scenes from our movie (with Kristin and I acting) and then I edited it into what looked like a real trailer for a movie. It was funny and people liked it a lot (and also it’s what determined that Kristin and I were going to play the main characters). We used that in our Indiegogo campaign.

I put together a budget that reflected the cheapest, but still realistic, way possible to make this film while keeping our “must-haves,” which is what we felt like were essential for us to make the film we wanted to make.

Those were things like shooting on the Alexa, certain essential crew positions (no makeup, no wardrobe though to save money—but we were going for a natural feel so we knew it would be fine) and knowing that we would need to pay for a few locations. We raised that budget on Indiegogo, as well as through two investors.

One of the most common questions we get is “How do I get an agent?” We mostly tell aspiring screenwriters to contact managers and producers rather than agents. Do you agree and how did you get your agent?

Doug: The advice I’ve heard is that you will find representation when a complete stranger tells you that your work is good.

Our manager found us after seeing our trailer online. So that advice turned out to be true. But also once you’ve had a film produced you should probably have your next script already written, and a few more ideas for what you’re working on next. Kristin and I had pilot script written and a second TV idea developed and ready to pitch and I think that helped a lot.

What would you recommend other writers who would like to get their screenplay produced?

Kristin: I think the most important thing is writing something good and something you’re happy with. The second most important thing is realizing that the filmmaking business is just that—a business. You only want to make your story once and you want to do it well.

You also have to be realist about costs. When you feel like your script is where it needs to be, you then have to get very realist about your budget and business plan. That’s all you need. If you believe in your story and have a budget and plan, you’ll find plenty of people who believe it in and want to get on board with you.

Doug: I would get your script to a place where you’re excited about every scene. Be hard on yourself. If you think you’re going to have to produce it yourself, then make sure it’s something that you can realistically produce yourself and it turn out good.

I think it’s better to take longer to have a script that’s unique and perfect, then to get one of your scripts produced sooner. You will end up with a better film in the end, and after years of hard work producing it, you will be glad you spent a little longer on the script. And that’s not necessarily the way we did it. We were making changes up until production.

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If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring screenwriters what would it be?

Kristin: Keep your head in the clouds on your story and your feet on the ground with your budget and production. You need both of these equally.

Doug: A family friend who is a writer once told me “write what you know.” That’s turned out to be good advice for me.

I think it’s tempting to sit down and think “hmmm, what’s the next Oscar winner” but if you’re writing from your own experience it’s going to feel authentic and you’ll be an expert on the story. I think even something simple from your life is great if it’s told through your own personal voice.

What’s the best way people can contact you via Social Media and keep up to date with your work?

Kristin: Instagram: @cupcakepuppysparkles (I named it this back in the day by just combining 3 things I liked) and I’m also on Twitter @kvioletarch

Doug: I’m also on Instagram @doug_archibald all the time and I’m on Twitter @dougsarchibald, too.

1 Comment

  1. Ishita says:

    In love with this article.

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