February 18, 1999
You & ...
Writer, director and star of 20 Dates
From Fox Searchlight Pictures: What does a struggling filmmaker do when he doesn't have a movie deal or a girlfriend? If you're Myles Berkowitz, you find one solution to both problems. Berkowitz was struck with an idea that had the potential to change his luck all at once: he decided to make his first movie a chronicle of his own dogged and indelicate quest for true love. The result is "20 Dates," an insightful look at one hapless romantic's roller-coaster ride through singlehood, filmed candid-camera style in all its splendid and embarrassing glory.
"There's a hilarious scene in this movie where Myles uses one hand to hold his date's and the other to wrestle with a giant muffin." -- Breakup Girl
The idea for this movie wasn't a germ. It was more like a virus. Which spread through my entire life.
Basically, I had been an actor and a writer for 12 years. Between auditioning and writing scripts and going to meetings, I had thousands and thousands of rejections under my belt. I had come out to Los Angeles to make movies and I was failing, by anyone's standards. Also, I was recently divorced and broke. Even if I had wanted to go out on dates, which I didn't since I was still licking my wounds, I couldn't afford to. So, in an act of total desperation, I thought I would make a movie by combining my two biggest failures: my personal life, and my professional life.
Hey, as Bob Dylan said: When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose.
So I decided to make a movie about my own personal quest for love. I didn't have a girlfriend, so I went out on 20 dates to find a girlfriend, and I filmed those dates. My movie is those 20 dates, plus everything else that happened to me while I tried to make this movie.
The amazing thing is: despite the fact that I am a really bad date AND that I had a camera crew along with me, I actually did meet someone, and we got engaged! [Totally true! -- BG]
This only goes to show that there is someone for everyone!
Tom B. asks: How did you select your 20 dates? Were they co-workers, random women, friends of friends, etc.?
Well, I will say that some of my dates were filmed with hidden cameras. In other words, some of the women in my movie knew that we were filming our date, some did not. All of the women whom I filmed with a hidden camera were set up with me by mutual friends. I'd asked friends to set me up with female friends of theirs whom they thought would think the idea was funny and get a kick out of being in a movie. Of course, I assured my friends that I wasn't going to try to make their friends do or say anything that they would be embarassed about. I also assured my friends that my dates would have the final say as to which pieces of footage of our dates I could use in the film. These women would of course have the power to veto the entire date from my movie if they were uncomfortable.
And when you see the film, you will agree that the only person who looks truly bad in this movie is me.
Bennett9 asks: What was your absolute worst date experience from the movie?
Probably the two that ended up in lawsuits. They were not happy to find out about the hidden camera.
SugarPie asks: How were the last five dates? Do you wish Elisabeth had been the 20th date [See, problem is, Myles meets Miss Right on date 15. -- BG] ?
In all honesty, I am so glad that I met her and that she agreed to go out with me -- never mind marry me -- that I would never risk angering the gods by implying that maybe it would have been better to meet her a few dates later.
Terry asks: Each time. you were not only going on a date, you were also going to be on film. Truth: how much primping (painstaking outfit choosing, etc.) did these dates involve?
I thought a lot about my clothes on those dates. Specifically, matching shirts with pants. As a matter of fact, I think I have very good color coordination.
Basically, I have a theory. I match colors in my wardrobe as colors appear in nature. I know that brown and green go well together, because that combination can be found in nature: it is the color of a tree. I know that blue and white go together because that is a sky with clouds in it. If I sound defensive, it's because I think there's a part in the movie where people laugh at me for wearing a green polo shirt with red shorts. That's unfair. Red and green definitely go together. Those are the colors of Christmas.
Zander asks: Now that you have all this experience, where is the ideal first date locale?
I think a hike is the best first date. The two of you are out in the wilderness alone -- no one or thing can disturb you. You have a chance to talk. And if you run out of things to say, you can always admire the scenery. Really, nothing can go wrong. You get lost -- more time together. She gets bitten by a snake -- you get to suck out the poison.
One of the dates in my movie wanted to go bungee jumping. This is not a good idea for a first date. At least not for me. Any points I got from our hike up the mountain to the bridge, I quickly lost as I jumped, screaming like a six-year-old girl.
Bettina asks: Is dating in LA more hellish than most places?
One woman in my movie described being single in LA this way: "You are a tiny cinder in hell. You're this little flame in a very evil place and no one notices you.
Then again, I think dating sucks in any city. That's why my film, if I say so myself, is a story that anyone anywhere can appreciate.
Breakup Girl asks: Anything else, Myles?
I realize that I make a fool of myself in this movie, but I'm not the first guy or gal who's made a fool of him/herself for love -- or lack thereof, as BG would say. Happens everyday.
The good news is that I found someone extraordinary under very extraordinary circumstances. And audiences leave the theater feeling good -- maybe even jealous -- about that. They know that if I can find someone, so can they. Now I'm off to pick up a wedding band. Thanks for your time, and do go see 20 Dates. On a date, even. I promise, it will make you look good.
Breakup Girl created by Lynn Harris & Chris Kalb