YOU HURT MY FEELINGS
a film by Steve Collins
starring John Merriman, Courtney
Davis, Macon Blair and Lilian & Violet Collins
97 minutes, HD, color, unrated
World Premiere: 2011 Los Angeles Film Festival
Friday, June 17th at 7:30 p.m. (Downtown Independent)
Tuesday, June 21st at 10:30 p.m. (Downtown Independent)
Wednesday, June 22nd at 4:10 p.m. (Regal Cinemas/L.A. LIVE)
melancholy ex-boyfriend becomes a nanny to prove to his girlfriend that he’s
ready to have children.
and nature shine in this melancholy love story about Johnny, a male nanny who
tries to win back his girlfriend after she takes up with a man who looks just
like him. The film tracks the growth of the relationship over four seasons in
New England, as Johnny’s emotional problems sabotage his attempts to put
together a family like the one he takes care of. A drama with the humor of spring
and the sorrow of winter, YOU HURT MY FEELINGS speaks with the honesty of a
child about people struggling to let go of darkness and find love.
HURT MY FEELINGS started as one in a series of shorts I undertook with my
friend and producer Jonathan Silberberg. It was a way of getting some forward
movement on our work and not being as precious about what our next “big” project
would be. We invited two of my favorite actors (John Merriman and Courtney
Davis) to stay up in Connecticut with us, and we shot four shorts over two
weeks in January of 2009. One of the shorts, about a tumultuous day in the life
of a troubled male nanny, had more mystery and spark than the others and that
became the first 15 minutes of YOU HURT MY FEELINGS.
showed the shorts to Anish Savjani at filmscience who had produced my last
feature, GRETCHEN, and told him I had an outline for the rest of the male nanny
movie. In a blissfully short development phase Anish greenlit us and we started
shooting two months later.
film was built around shooting with children. I knew I couldn’t stuff a two-year-old
into a composed frame or tell a toddler to do another take because it wasn’t
good for camera, so the whole aesthetic, size and intimacy of the production
was built around being flexible to the temperament of a child. My discovery was
that the emotional balance of a two-year-old and a grown-up aren’t as different
as you’d think. A grown-up will try to do 100 takes, but only the first one
will be any good. A kid will do one take, take a shit in their diaper and go on
strike. Either way, you get the same one good take.
was living in New England, so I tried to take advantage of what I had around
me, namely, the natural world in all four of its seasons. This involved
spreading the shoot out over a year, and since most people had other jobs
anyway, this actually made things easier. We were always a little off in our
timing — shooting swimming when it was freezing, shooting snow scenes when the
snow was melting. This seemed fitting to the rest of the film — we were tied to
the temperament of Mother Nature, constantly forced to bend our filmmaking to
fit the reality of the situation.
small gave me a lot of courage and I did some things I might have been afraid
to do on a bigger scale. I used a lot of non-actors, including my wife,
children and John Merriman’s (who played “Johnny”) own parents. With a crew of
four, I figured if it didn’t work, we’d just get lunch and try someone else. But
it all did work, and I don’t think it could have worked any other way. Once we
started making that fresh, real film about out of control toddlers and grown-ups,
no other kind of performances would match.
YOU HURT MY FEELINGS was
a film made after the bubble broke in the independent market. At the time when
I was trying to sell my last film, I cursed that bubble. “Damn you, Bubble!” I
see now it had hidden benefits; it made my filmmaking even leaner and brought
me closer to people — my cast, my crew, my family. I removed the separation
between my work and my life. I’ve heard you’re not supposed to do that, but
when you don’t have a budget, you better have feelings.
emotional intelligence of adults, myself included, has always underwhelmed me.
Why are so many of us unhappy and held hostage by our emotional problems? How
do we change? YOU HURT MY FEELINGS is a love story about how three characters
deal with their damage and regenerate a relationship.
film has little dialogue and keeps a tight hand on the amount of information
you receive. My hope was to draw the audience a kind of personality mystery. The
challenge was to present damaged, communication-challenged people but give the
viewer enough clues of hope and joy that they would want to sniff out the
answer. As the film progresses, the audience observes gesture, action and
reaction and learns how to understand these characters. There’s a philosophy of
life in the construction of the film: together, through compassionate listening
and observing, we are released from our loneliness.
people who make sense in YOU HURT MY FEELINGS are children. A three-year-old
can’t lie, can’t deceive themselves or others — all they know is “I’m sad,”
“I’m happy,” “You hurt my feelings.” And for the rest of our emotional life you
don’t really need to know more, but we convince ourselves otherwise. The film’s
melancholy is constantly challenged by the honesty and beauty of children and
nature. We try to get the characters and the audience to patch into that beauty
for themselves so they can learn to quiet their racing fears and say the things
we keep inside.
- Steve Collins
John Merriman has extensive film experience in front of and behind the camera. He starred in the dark comedy GRETCHEN, which won Best Narrative Feature at the Los Angeles Film Festival in 2006; he co-wrote, co-directed and starred in the indie satire MY NAME IS BUTTONS; and played the lead in PERILS IN NUDE MODELING, which was nominated for a Student Oscar and won the top prize at HBO’s U.S. Comedy Arts Festival. This past year, he acted in the feature films THE MAN FROM ORLANDO, A SPLICE OF LIFE, ORBIT(film), and PICTURES OF SUPERHEROES, which are all in post-production. He recently filmed a scene for SLACKER 2011 a feature length remake of Richard Linklater's seminal film that will celebrate the film's 20th anniversary and raise money for Texas filmmakers. He and Kerri Lendo wrote, directed, and starred in the short film SLEEP STUDY, which won the Audience Award at the 2010 Austin Film Festival. He lives in Austin, Texas.
Davis has flipped pizzas, spun records at a radio station, quit a Ph.D.
program, and even played Barbie at Toys “R” Us. But what she really likes to do
is write, act in and direct funny movies. Courtney got her M.F.A. in Film
Production at the University of Texas at Austin, where she wrote and directed a
whole bunch of funny shorts, including MILTON IS A SHITBAG, an award-winning
animated comedy about her racist cat. She also co-wrote and directed the zero-budget
comedy feature MY NAME IS BUTTONS and starred in the indie feature GRETCHEN,
which won Best Narrative Feature at the Los Angeles Film Festival in 2006.
Currently, Courtney writes sketch comedy and makes funny videos for the Upright
Citizens Brigade Theatre in Los Angeles.
Blair is a member of the Lab of Madness film production collective in New York,
having co-starred in their first feature, MURDER PARTY, and written their
in-development second, SUMMER VILLAINS. He has also appeared in Steve Collins’
previous film, GRETCHEN, and will be seen in J.T. Petty’s upcoming HELLBENDERS
3-D. He is the author of the recent graphic novel Hellcity, various comic book
shorts for Marvel, Dark Horse and Image, and several screenplays. And one time
he played a creep on LAW & ORDER: SVU.
Collins wrote and directed the feature film GRETCHEN, which won Best Narrative
Feature at the Los Angeles Film Festival in 2006. GRETCHEN was picked up for
distribution by the Sundance Channel and Watchmaker Films. It was an expansion
of his short film, GRETCHEN AND THE NIGHT DANGER, which won the shorts
competition at SXSW in 2005. He studied film at Wesleyan University and
received an MFA in film production from UT-Austin. While in grad school, he
directed the short film LONELYLAND, which was also purchased by the Sundance
Channel. Collins has taught filmmaking at UT-Austin, a therapeutic boarding
school and Wesleyan University, where he presently heads the film production
division. Collins lives with his wife and two daughters in Connecticut.
2011: YOU HURT MY
FEELINGS (97:00), HD
GRETCHEN (98:00), Super 16mm to HD
GRETCHEN & THE WOLF WIZARD (14:00), DV
GRETCHEN & THE NIGHT DANGER (26:00), DV
LONELYLAND (15:00), 16mm
THE FLATNAP PROPHECIES: Volume 2 (14:00), 16mm
THE BALLAD OF COURTNEY & JAMES (3:00), 16mm
NOT FUNNY (5:00), 16mm
THE FLATNAP PROPHECIES: Volume 1 (13:00), DV
HOMEBODY (10:00), 16mm
THE PLUMBER (28:00), 16mm
filmscience, Anish Savjani has produced eleven feature films: Kelly Reichardt’s
MEEK’S CUTOFF, WENDY AND LUCY and OLD JOY; Joe Swanberg’s ALEXANDER THE LAST,
NIGHTS AND WEEKENDS and HANNAH TAKES THE STAIRS; Steve Collins’ YOU HURT MY
FEELINGS and GRETCHEN; Geoff Marslett’s MARS; Bob Byington’s HARMONY AND ME; and
Spencer Parsons’ I’LL COME RUNNING. These films have been nominated by Film Independent
for three Spirit Awards, and they’ve screened at film festivals around the
world, including Cannes, Sundance, Toronto and Venice. Additionally, Anish was
the recipient of the Producers Award at the 2011 Independent Spirit Awards.
filmscience currently has a number of projects by emerging and established
independent filmmakers in production and development, including a new
documentary from Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher.
Silberberg is an independent film and television producer living in New York
City. His interest in film and television began with his first job out of
college at Maysles Films, where he worked for two years. He’s gone on to
produce and direct non-fiction television and documentary projects for HBO, The
Sundance Channel, Discovery, A&E, Radical Media and others. He is currently
producing a follow-up to the Peabody and Emmy award-winning documentary PARADISE
LOST: THE CHILD MURDERS AT ROBIN HOOD HILLS for HBO. He is also passionate
about producing independent fiction films and is proud to be a producer on
Steve Collins’ beautiful second feature YOU HURT MY FEELINGS.