Interview with Dana Marisa Schoenfeld
You have a wonderful cast of actors sharing your story. What was the casting process like to find these specific characters? Have you worked with any of the actors in the film before?
First off, thank you so much for including Swiped Right in your esteemed lineup of films! We are so proud of the film and especially of our talented cast. When Lydia and I began the casting process, I thought about actors who I had worked with before and actors who I had wanted to work with who I knew could bring something exciting to their character. Lydia had come to me with an idea for the film and a few characters in mind. She had seen some projects of mine that I wrote, directed, produced, and starred in and so she was familiar with my work. Lydia was already cast as the role of Ava and offered me the role of Sophia. With those two characters cast, we set out to find our perfect costars. We discussed a lot of actors we both knew. We are both involved in a community of actors in New York City called The Actors Green Room, founded by Jen Rudolph, and because of this community, we’ve had the amazing opportunity to meet and work with so many talented people. For the role of Angelo, we wanted a dramatic actor who would bring a depth of character to the role without losing those crucial comedic elements. The more serious the actor, the funnier the comedic beats could be as they would be grounded in truth. It was also important to find the right leading man who would have the right chemistry with Lydia Fiore. I had never worked with Anthony Grasso before but had seen his work and knew he would be perfect. Lydia agreed with that choice. I literally begged Anthony to do this role, he accepted, and then he almost turned it down! I’m so grateful that he believed in the project and decided to do it. I believe Swiped Right is his first comedy and I think he did a fantastic job of bringing Angelo to life. Both Anthony and Lydia are from New Jersey and had a great chemistry from the moment they met. I created the role of Joanna, Angelo’s sister specifically for Stephanie Weppler. I’ve cast Stephanie in seven other projects of mine and so obviously I know her work very well and knew she would add a tremendous amount to this film. Her comedic timing is excellent, her ability to do an accent is uncanny, and she is one of my favorite actors to work with. She steps into a role and literally transforms in front of your eyes. It’s beautiful. Kisha Barr and I have wanted to work together for over a year and I thought this would be a great opportunity for us to play. Kisha is a very elegant woman and I knew she would be able to step into the more conservative role of Vivian. She did a phenomenal job and I loved working with her – I’m looking forward to watching her step into the feature film version of this character! And then there is Vin Scialla – who I have also worked with before. Vin has great comedic timing and is also a brilliant musician (He wrote the music in the “Jean Scene” and is the composer of the film). I also want to add here, that Lydia’s fearless performance as Ava helped to elevate the comedy – especially in the jean scene! Overall, we are so proud of this cast and excited to share the work with you.
The film has many raw comedic moments that are very true to life. Did any of the circumstances come from personal experience or happen to someone close to you?
The idea of the story (meeting someone online and having an “awkward” night with someone you never want to see again), came right out of Lydia’s dating playbook but I think everyone can relate to it. The specifics of the comedic beats are fictional, but the idea that sex can sometimes be really messy, embarrassing, and not at all sexy is something that most people have experienced at some point. We wanted to show the truth behind what it’s like to be with a total stranger – and the embarrassing moments that can come out of that. Sex is rarely as hot as it is in the movies so let’s make a movie that shows that!
The Skinny Jean incident was so honest and awkwardly funny. Can you share with us about the filming that specific moment? Were there any favorite outtakes?
That is my favorite scene in the film. A lot of the blocking came organically from Anthony and Lydia – I wanted it to look as natural as possible so I let them figure out what felt right physically. We knew we wanted it to be difficult to get their shirts off but suddenly Anthony started lifting Lydia’s pelvis up and down repeatedly to try to get her jeans off - it was so perfect I couldn’t stop laughing and just let them go with it. Then with the scissors beat, we had always planned to cut the jeans, but we didn’t figure out how until we were on set. I wanted the cut to start at the ankle, that I was sure of. We only had two pairs of jeans to work with so we shot everything but the actual cutting first. What none of us knew was that after Anthony ripped the jeans to the top, they wouldn’t just come off. There was the added struggle of the heavier material at the waistband not ripping, and that led to Anthony having to pull down the jeans over her shoes, and then getting stuck down there—and the rest is history. So the mechanics of that were all improvised! Every take was funny – but obviously the two that included the actual cutting and ripping of the jeans were the best ones.
While in the edit bay, I realized this scene needed tango music to complete the moment so I called on the brilliant and talented Vin Scialla to create the perfect tango piece. He did just that and it works like magic. I’ve never been so proud of a scene – and it truly was a collaborative effort on how it came to life. Talk about movie magic!
Swiped Right gives an intimate and comedic look on what it means to be a mature woman in this digital world of dating. Are there any other stories you currently have in the works within this genre? Is there another aspect of this character perhaps that you are looking to explore?
We intend to develop the short film into a feature film. The screenplay would obviously add many aspects of digital dating and many additional layers to Ava’s character including her other dates, career, life goals, etc. We would also like to shed some light on the other characters – Joanna, Sophia, and Vivian who all have very different outlooks on life and are also considered “mature.” So yes, there are plenty of other stories within Swiped Right that need to be told and we can’t wait to tell them!