On the eve of the Valentine’s Day weekend, Portrait of a Serial Monogamist presents a whip smart comedy that has something for everyone on the romantic spectrum:

single and lovin’ it, looking around, happily coupled, or thinking about moving on!

Portrait of a Serial Monogamist is written and directed by Christina Zeidler (Deep Lez Film Craft, The Gladstone Hotel) and John Mitchell (The Drowsy Chaperone), produced by Mehernaz Lentin (Fall), and features a stellar original score by Canadian music icon Don Pyle (Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet, Black Heel Marks).

This Toronto-set romantic dramedy opening  February 12th at Carlton Cinemas is co- directed by  John Mitchell  and  Christina Zeidler.  Set and shot in Parkdale, this status-quo challenging romcom focuses on the charming and successful Elsie ( Diane Flacks ), a forty something lesbian and serial monogamist who breaks up with her long-standing girlfriend ( Carolyn Taylor) to pursue another woman -only to discoverthat she might’ve made a big mistake.

The film stars a host of talented Canadians from Toronto’s queer community and beyond ( Working the Engel’s  Diane Flacks ,  Baroness Von Sketch Show ’s Carolyn Taylor , Vag Halen lead singer Vanessa Dunn,Video on Trial’s Sabrina Jalees, This Hour Has 22 Minutes’s Gavin Crawford , and  SCTV’ s  Robin Duke,  amongst others).

Given that the film opens Valentine’s weekend, it could make for a perfectly timed date night!

I had the opportunity to catch up with the directors and  interrupt their crazy on the road schedule to ask a fewquestions…

K (Kitty): How did you both meet?

CZ (Christina Zeidler): We met at summer camp in the late 80’s. Johnny was the drama director and I was the dance teacher. We started doing bad choreography together as a joke, and hit it off as friends.

K: How did this particular film become a joint project ?

JM (John Mitchell): We’ve been friends for a long time, and have always kept in touch in our artistic careers. I was in comedy for many years, and Christina would sometimes bring her short films to our shows, and she would ask me to appear in one them. We supported each other. As far as this movie, we both have wanted to make a feature for years, and came up with this particular idea and decided to make it together.

K: Was writing seamless or did you have to tussle it out?

CZ: The writing was a blast. We would get together at my studio and make each other laugh, sometimes we’d break out some instruments and jam, we also wrote a bit too. Actually, we did work hard on the writing, but we had a lot of fun. Some lesbian processing, but no serious issues or tussles.

K:How did you both direct?

JM: We decided on a loose division of duties beforehand. Christina has impeccable taste and style as a filmmaker, so she worked closely with our cinematographer, Celiana Cardenas, who is an incredible talent and we were lucky to work with her. The two of them would set up the shots, and because of my experience in theatre, I would work with the actors. Having said that, there was a lot of crossover of duties, and it went very smoothly.

K: Tell me who your influences are, film wise.

CZ: Wow. So many it’s hard to pick out just a few.  For this movie we talked about a few films, “High Fidelity”, “Manhattan”, “Annie Hall”, the original “Alfie”, with Michaels Cain, for the way they used the device of him speaking directly to the audience. We both love movies with rich dialogue, which is something we got chastised for from time to time, but we knew we wanted to make, for lack of a better description, a “talky” film. So, we did, but we think it’s fun and funny dialogue.

K: Do you each have a fave scene or moment of the film?

JM: For me there are a lot of little jokes and lines that I’m always quietly hoping will get a laugh. When they do it’s very gratifying. I have a few favourite scenes, so it’s hard to pick out one. I like the way the scene with Elsie’s family came together.

CZ: The Dog Park scene was a lot of fun to write. We completely went down the rabbit hole with the jokes, and really went for it. It was a tough scene to shoot, but I think it paid off, and audiences seem to enjoy it, which is great.

K:Any funny set story you can share?

JM: There was absolutely no fun to be had on that set. That was a strict rule…We were surrounded by the most hilarious comedic cast, so there was a lot of laughter.

CZ: It was often just a line or two thrown in, off the cuff, by one the actors. Many of them are professional improvisers, so they keep you on your toes, nd we were able to use that in the movie.

K: Are either of you serial monogamists?

CZ: I’ve been in a serious relationship for almost twenty years, so I would have to say no.

JM: I’m a bit of a commitment phobe, so I’m sort of the opposite of the serial monogamist.

K: Who would be your dream actor (cast) to work with?

JM: We just worked with the dreamcast. This is not hyperbole, these people are amazingly gifted, and very, very funny. There’s so much talent in Toronto, and we don’t always get to see it onscreen. That was absolutely one of our goals making this movie, and as far as we are concerned, we got the cream of the crop.

Portrait of a Serial Monogamist Written and Directed by Christina Zeidler and John Mitchell

Opens February 12 in Toronto Carlton Cinema, 20 Carlton St.

Opening weekend special events:

Feb 12th – Live Q&A/improv session with the actors after the evening screenings

Feb 16th – Q&A with Christina and John (co-sponsored by Spacing Magazine)

About the Author

Cat Grant OCAD is a multimedia artist. A published poet currently writing a book,she contributes to Hone Life, Jingobox and her blog for theBUZZ Kitty Indacity. Painting, sculpture, photography/video, choreography/dance & costume design also make her days. Cat has worked with Deadmau5, Panasonic, Sony, Konami and volunteers for many queer organizations.