Megan Martin wrote the screenplay for The Right Kind of Wrong, which is playing Thursday, Sept. 12 at TIFF 2013. The film was based on a novel by Tim Sandlin called Sex and Sunsets. The Right Kind of Wrong was directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik, produced by Robert Lantos, and stars Ryan Kwanten.
When Robert asked me in 2007 to adapt the novel Sex and Sunsets -- I struggled with the idea. Despite the fact that Tim Sandlin's beautiful prose pulls you in, it is set in the point of view of a guy following a woman. A story of love at first sight. In this day and age, that's tricky.
But Robert understood the character of Leo as a damaged dreamer and an underdog, and his enthusiasm got to me. And what I liked right from the start: how big-hearted the intentions of the film were. It is a film about outsiders and impossible dreams -- for everyone.
I started to sketch out a Leo that was a dreamer who fights the world too hard. He is not a softy. In an early draft, he has a chance to be nice to his best friend's kids, Ravi and Pia, in front of Colette -- and doesn't take it. They annoy him and he says it. He looks like an ass, but he's honest. That's how I started to dig into Leo...
Another challenge -- how to make Leo different than other failed-writer protagonists. From this the idea of the book (which later became a blog) by Leo's ex wife, Julie, was born. I liked the idea that this practical woman who once loved Leo but became disenchanted was crafting her own story. One based on all the ways he'd disappointed her. I liked the irony of this slightly inappropriate ranting of hers becoming her brand name. Leo became the guy you cut your teeth on and leave. And so our underdog was born.
The hardest part of writing Colette was to learn about her as Leo does. What makes her not just an object of desire? Leo has very little access... yet we need to believe that he is getting a genuine sense of her. And always lurking was the risk of our love story becoming a stalker story. We worked against it in the script, but we knew the wrong actor could have taken in that way...
Now for the awesome. Five years later, watching Jeremiah Chechik working with Ryan Kwanten in a studio in Santa Monica, I knew we were not making a stalker movie. Jeremiah had a very warm-hearted, romantic-fable vision for the story. And Ryan welcomes you in on screen, dispensing with any risk of menace. And, like the character of Leo, he's an adventurer in spirit and craft. Ryan embraced Leo wholeheartedly, and I think he shines.
Now for the odd: I went to Canmore for the read-through and fell in love with Western Canada again (I'm from there. It was a great way to come home.) A number of us went on a rafting trip just before the shoot. I'll never forget drifting down the river with a group of talented people days before shooting our movie. And then...I left. I was writing on a show in LA, so I watched the gorgeously shot scenes by Luc Montpellier on dailies from a studio in Burbank, California. Very odd.
Another awesome part: getting to watch Catherine O'Hara say lines I wrote. I grew up in a household that loved SCTV. I need not say more.
And, a quieter moment: on my way out of Canmore, I went to see Leo's apartment which was a set built in the local arena. John Dondertman, the production designer, had done a great job. And, it actually existed. Amazing.
By far the oddest thing of all: I haven't met Tim Sandlin -- from whom this was all born. I will tonight at the screening here at TIFF. I can't wait to say thanks.