iLove U Documentary (For Access to the Love Journal)


So it was the last Thursday of May, 2015 and I went to see this girl at her house. We both went to different colleges after high school, where we cultivated our friendship. We were back home in Frisco, Tx for a brief period at the preamble of the summer. We had discussed meeting up with each other for a brief period, and when she finally arrived, at the beginning of that week, I scrambled to legitimize those promises. It wasn’t until that Thursday that her family finally relented on their cavalcade of parties and gatherings that she was available to see me. After much rushing around, the only family picnic my father’s company hosted in all his time there, and five fast food restaurant visits to feed my 3-year-old brother, we managed to make Thursday work. I packed two bottles of Malbec wine in a backpack, hurdled onto my bike and rode against ghastly winds. I arrived, though, sweaty and a bit anxious. I had been anxious all day; I had never done this.

The procession of the conversations throughout the night are mostly irrelevant to any party outside of us two, really, but it seemed to me at that moment I was having some of the most enlightening and important conversation I’d ever have.  That sounds hyperbolic, but, in retrospect, the feeling committed to that grandeur. We both went through the two bottles, dripping out of them the talking points of Everything in a matter of hours. When the bottles dried and our bodies filled, she asked me to join her to get some cigarettes, and so I did, because of course I’d venture to world’s end with her. By this time, the entire state had been overtaken with a sort of biblical rain. We looked outside and we saw a godly type of wrath curse the pavement. I took the smaller umbrella, knowing it would break and I would have to shelter under hers, and we walked to the gas station for what seemed miles away, as everything is in North Texas. The entire way, I experienced this flight of giddiness, a nuanced joy that donned “wit” to shield its excitement. The kind where words performed a dance they knew by heart but never seemed to rehearse to, and their choreography was heart melting. I am seldom like this.

On the return, I sprained ankle trying to leap a puddle that was really a lake, and I landed improperly on the curb. She came over and “carried” me down the remaining two blocks we had before we arrived at her house. By this time, the rain had passed. The entire way back, our bodies were so close, I felt her hands travel up and down my spine, my central nervous system, and I decided it was appropriate to hold her head close to mine and kiss it, not once but several times. We drunkenly giggled what I imagine are sweet nothings ~ I wouldn’t know ~ to eachother as I could have sworn her hand touched my bum, but it was probably my imagination. But, it probably wasn’t.


We arrived at her house, I changed into a sweater of hers while she changed herself into fewer clothes than she had prior. We lay on the floor of her bedroom, looking at the ceiling, nursing a vicious pain in my ankle, doing nothing. The reason I was so anxious coming in was because I had never kissed anyone before, both by being stubborn-minded and being beyond aloof, and I thought that this night, with this woman who I had been attracted to for so long, perhaps something would, as they say, just happen. They say “kissing begins where words end.”

But I kept talking.

Eventually, my comic tragedy was ended when her father arrived home. He took me home. I stumbled into sleep, and I swear every dream was just another mirage of some halcyon kingdom called Heaven. I woke up, as I typically don’t from a night of drinking, blissful. Actual, real bliss, the sort that permits you, as a mortal, for a mere moment, to glide, and so I levitated from the couch I slept on during the breaks. I allowed to swell throughout me a glissando emotion, one that mimics an imagery of clouds and weightlessness, unburdened by things that have weighed me my entire life. In that night and in its pursuant sunrise, I felt bliss.

But, as I carried the thought a little more, and I let it warm me, there was a flickering of sorts, a small fire that started whispering this word. It was a word I was wildly uncomfortable with. When I started using this word to describe how I felt about this person, this girl, using it in relationship to another person with me, I turned on it. I turned on myself. I was so bewildered by this word, this word that I felt I had no right and no justification in using, in even uttering,  so much that I started this courtroom drama inside of me and I went mad. By the end of that Friday, I was having full-blown emotional breakdowns on the walk I took to calm down, all because I couldn’t, for the life of me, bring myself to think that I was actually “in love” with someone.

And so here we arrive, the germ of an artistic endeavor. The film, or the idea of the film, sprung from the conversation, the dialogue, the interrogation and the anguish of this concept, this idea of being in love. To me, I could not settle on that I loved this girl or that I thought I was in love with someone, for numerous reasons. To list all of those would to be a tirade and a character study onto itself. But as I carried this conflict, I thought more and more as to what I could do or think to justify, how could I possibly even know, that I could use that word to describe my feelings for a person who was so transient in my life. She eluded me throughout high school and in college we stopped speaking for two years. It was, on her part, she was battling demons and ignoring me and, on my part, I was emotional detritus and dismayed.  

What is it mean to be in love? I thought, to help me sort this calamitous question, I could take that question to others. I certainly couldn’t think of anything else to make a film on. I could think of other topics that had political or social relevance, but none of it could capture my attention for more than an hour. But she, this idea, my whole relationship to dating and romantic identity was fascinating and bewildering. So I pursued it, but I wanted to pursue it from a vantage point that wasn’t redundant or archaic. I was tired of getting advice and arrogant wisdom from the people who seemed to know everything about dating women: white men. That is not to say they are not acceptable sources of widsom, but I came to realize and acknowledged the bias in this conversation, the relentless one-sidedness of all discourse on the philosophy of romantic love, on whose definition drove the culture I lived in. I needed something better, something that would give meaning to my moral compass, to my inner drama, and, most importantly, to the girl and her beliefs. She was part of an ideology and identity that was totally disenfranchised. I was totally disenfranchised. I knew there had to be a better way of discussing and understanding what it meant to pursue and be in love. I thought intimacy was different than what I was told it was.

So, I wanted to create something, this film, which opened a conversation between people from all walks of life. I wanted us to congregate onto a feeling, a universal adhesive, and talk about dating, about romantic gestures, about sex, about kissing, about intimacy, so that it could all culminate into a mutual appreciation of what our truths about love are. I don’t have the hubris to think I will find any answer, as there hasn’t been by anyone in millennia, countless people, voices heard and unheard, who are certainly more qualified than me, a man who has never kissed a person, to discuss this.

Also, I wanted to take the opportunity, while I still could, to take the outsider perspective. There are many assumed actions and behaviors we pantomime in romantic interaction, or even just platonic ones, that I feel are unquestioned. They don’t make sense. I don’t know if they are recognized as nonsensical. Perhaps that is only to my perception. Certainly, I’m the one who can’t stop talking so that I may trust my intuition when it screams, “Declare your feelings!” But, to peer inward from the outside, to take on the world of romance as someone bereft of it, with the knowledge I have, is worth exploring in this inquisition.

At the end of this, to ask why I would bother is because I think to care about Love as just as important as loving someone. I feel Love is unraveling and with the string we find strewn about, we can make something more beautiful, but we need hands, everyone’s hands, to stitch together an understanding, an Idea. Also and ultimately, because this piece is within itself an act of love to myself, to the people who triumph and rue in Love, and, really, to her.

This film is my love letter to Love.



Love is perhaps one of the most perplexing, damning, and mystifying emotions in all of human history. Certainly nothing has created more stories and more art than the concept and the struggle of love. But these ideas are constantly changing, and the way we discuss it changes as well. So, in the modern era, one must ask what does it mean to say “I love you”. One man, someone who’s never even been in a relationship, seeks to find, for himself, what it means to say “I love you” by asking people and experts from all over the world and all fields of expertise in his search for love. He will traverse issues of gender, the tricky world of online dating, and the many many pitfalls of romantic love.


-A film about Romantic Love, nowadays, makes sense because it has been in a traditional way (1 Man+ 1 Woman) a bit long. More and more, newer forms of romantic expression are emerging, or at least are coming into awareness, such as polyamory or aromanticism. The love a trans person expresses cannot be properly held by the traditional. The love a Pakistani person can’t even be expressed in that way. So, as a film based in the US, we have to come to recognize that there is not just one type of organizing Love. There needs to be a discussion and understanding across ALL different conversation pieces, so that everyone can be on the same page.

A film about Romantic Love makes sense today because demographic shifts are altering who is holding and representing our discussion of Love. Women, for example, are leading more research, are churning out more moral philosophers, and are just overall becoming more influential in the vineyard of our culture. However, they represent half our population, and are just recently being given this fluidity of social influence. Therefore, they have things to say about love or their experiences in sexuality/romance,that are important and often neglected. It goes for the black or Latino or Asian community, who are often disenfranchised voices in a constant vie for who gets to create our culture of romance. These minority demographics are growing; therefore it would only be fair to represent that shift accurately.

-Technology has rapidly changed the way we socialize and interact with one another, especially in the way we interact with our love interests. It facilitates, obfuscates, obligates, initiates, and complicates these interactions. Then there’s dating sites and apps- the ability to find someone to date or have a random liaison with all in in the palm of our hands. This is revolutionary and so to some capacity we have to believe that this affects the discussion as well.  What really does it mean to find love through a screen?

I think Love needs to be discussed seriously, not in some Nicholas Sparks saccharine nonsense, because cynicism is rampant. I feel there’s been a massive culture of Irony in youth culture and seeping even into the elderly. Love is worth discussing because it is worth saving, not that it is dying or to claim so, but that it is in danger of being tainted and painted grey. Love has been discussed by many philosophers and novelists and great thinkers and even throughout the undervalued working classes as some great triumph of humanity. Whether it is the love of a friend or a great love, it is something people have said again and again, that it is worth defending.


Also, many films and documents that are important, in my eyes, are those that are taken from the perspective of an outsider. Now, there is no true real outsider to human experience, but as far as one can vouch for the filmmaker, there is something to be said about someone talking about dating and relationships and intimacy who has never experienced any of those things. There is something worthwhile, and potentially quite entertaining, about seeing a person very unacquainted with an inexplicable thing try to have that thing explained.



The film will be broken into 3 main structures:


Structure A) The General Interviews. This is the most universal aspect of the film. The filmmaker, in however way they can, will amass a large body of people over a span of 6 months to sit down and conduct a conversational interview with each one, spanning from 60-90 minutes on the topic. These are conversational interviews that guide the speaker to their raw truths. The point of this structure is to allow a more universal, mosaic discussion about these similar topics and stories; part of the idea is to see how they relate and how they parallel across identities. These will be organized and explained by-


Structure B) The Expert Interviews.  The experts are professional in fields ranging from psychiatry to economics, each divulging in some part a richer and more detailed understanding of a particular shift or metric that has been discussed in the general interviews. And the expert interview will also be a link between the general interviews, either coming or going, into the final structure, the-

Structure C) The Personal Journey- The filmmaker interjects themself into the film so that it has a thematic and logical grounding throughout, sort of like a needle sewing an elaborate quilt. The personal journey is a series of animations, B-roll, narrations, reenactments and, mostly, verite footage of the filmmaker, their advancements and their emulation, their self-imposed attempt of a search for love. They will traverse dating websites, speed dating, mixers, the public sphere, their workplace, and personal revelations/interviews, so as to maintain some sort of skeleton to where the interviews go, to how one actually pursues love, or how it finds them.

The idea here is to construct the film around this ever-evolving story. Doing so gives the film a pattern, while simultaneously giving it spontaneity. So to say, the C-B-A or A-B-C structure is repeated, but what happens in C may change very dramatically or something said in C may have a powerful affect to the C structure. Doing so makes the film organic and true to its subject matter, a reflection of its interviews- it is an emulation of love-making, of intimacy. But, it’s a film.

The technical aspects of the film are as follow:


  • A Panasonic X270 will be the primary camera for both interviews and verite footage. On occasion, for special interviews and special scenes, the C300 will be used for crisper shots.
  • Audio will be done primarily using lav mics and remote recording. No ADR will be enacted, except for narration.
  •    Eric Barros, an electronic composer from Dallas, will be scoring the film, taking influences from Daft Punk and Jon Brion’s film work. There will also be homages to 70s electronica music and classical love songs.
  •    There will be several scenes throughout the film that require special attention, such as events that were a one-time occurrence but had no footage, or events preceding the conception of the film. These will be reenactments and animated scenes. The animated scenes will mostly be up to the discretion of the animators themselves and dependent on the story, but if they prefer a director’s preference, we will refer them to the animation style of Modern Love column of the NYTimes or the “Blank on Blank” PBS series.





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