One True Loves – Interview with Film Director Andy Fickman

The Avenue
Based on the novel by NY Times bestselling author Taylor Jenkins Reid,
One True Loves
follows Emma and Jesse, a couple whose idyllic life grinds to a halt when Jesse disappears in a fatal helicopter accident. After years of grieving, Emma finds love with an old friend Sam when Jesse unexpectedly returns and forces her to choose between two great loves.
One True Loves stars Simu Liu (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings), Phillipa Soo (Hamilton), and Luke Bracey (Hacksaw Ridge). Directed by Andy Fickman (Playing with Fire, Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, She's the Man), the screenplay was adapted by Taylor Jenkins Reid and her husband Alex Jenkins Reid.
Below, our interview with Director Andy Fickman explores the different facets of the filmmaking process for One True Loves, advice for aspiring filmmakers, plus his favorite movies of the past decade.
One True Loves is currently available to rent or own via digital and demand.

One True Loves is based on a novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid. What drew you to this story, and how did you approach adapting it for the screen?

The first time I read the book, I was really transported to this unique, challenging, romantic, heartbreaking love triangle. Having Taylor and her husband Alex write the screenplay enabled me to have a constant checks and balances with the original source material, and I thought that the best way to approach the movie was making sure I was telling the story of Emma, Jesse, and Sam in the way that Taylor and her fans would want it to be told.


The film stars Phillipa Soo, Simu Liu, and Luke Bracey. What was the casting process like, and what made these actors the right fit for their respective roles?

We were very lucky to have the brilliant Sarah Finn come aboard not only as our casting director but as an active producer on the project as well. Sarah and I worked on She's the Man together and had long been looking for a project to reunite on. All of our casting happened at the height of the pandemic. We started with Emma's character, and I met dozens upon dozens of brilliant actresses on Zoom, who all had unique takes on the character. The last actor I met was Phillipa. I was a massive fan of hers from Hamilton and Amelie on Broadway, and the minute I got off my Zoom with her, I contacted all the producers and said for the first time: I actually just met Emma. The same process happened with Sam, where once I met Simu, I knew he was Sam. It should be noted that Shang-Chi had not come out yet – the movie came out the weekend before we started filming – but I knew Simu's work from the brilliant show Kim's Convenience, so I was a fan ten times over before I ever knew he was also such a kick-ass superhero. For Jesse, I was a fan of Luke's works, from Point Break to Holidate, and the minute we were able to talk, I knew he was perfect for Jesse. From there, casting the families and friends was so much easier, because we had our core three.


Which particular scenes in One True Loves to stand out as favorites?

I've grown up my whole life loving lighthouses, and I always dreamed that one day, I could film something in a lighthouse. By chance, this book has a significant lighthouse in it, and there are very few lighthouses in America that are accessible for filming. So, the fact that we found such a beautiful one that allowed us to film inside and out was one of the most memorable parts of the entire process. That, coupled with seeing the work that Philippa and Luke were doing in the scenes there, blew my mind.


Where was the movie filmed, and how long was principal photography?

We shot the majority of the movie in and around Wilmington, NC. We were about five hours away for the lighthouse scenes, and we also did a second unit in Acton, Massachusetts. We ended up filming for 25 days!


Do you have a favorite genre to work in, and are there any genres you haven't tackled yet that you'd like to explore?

I've been very lucky to do so many different genres that all appeal to me as a fan of film, television, and theater. I'm always excited to tackle fresh, new genres. On my wish list, as a kid who grew up in Texas, is to do a Western!


What advice would you give aspiring filmmakers just starting out in the industry?

If I was starting out today, the first thing I would do is start shooting immediately, thanks to the fact that on almost everybody's phone, you can get various cameras, music, and editing apps to make your own short film! That is a game changer. The ability to experiment in your backyard and not have to try to get film developed or find some time to edit VHS tapes really makes me so jealous every day that that's not the world I grew up in.  So I would say: get a script, and start shooting, start shooting, start shooting.


What is the biggest challenge facing filmmakers today, and how do you see the industry evolving in the coming years?

The challenge is that there is so much noise and need for content that it can become overwhelming. At the same time, there's so many mergers happening in the industry that the variety of places one can make their content has slowly evaporated, which means that sometimes, a handful of people who have a good working relationship with one of the current content providers, can end up doing a tremendous amount of work, while others are looking for an inroad. I think that, with COVID, it locked everyone in for a lot of home co-viewing. The streamers really exploded because of that. I don't see that necessarily disappearing; I see that more and more content will get focused towards each streamer's particular needs, as audiences are able to find the type of shows that they want to watch on the streamers dedicated to that type of content. So, in the long run, I'd like to believe there will be plenty of opportunities for everybody willing to stick it out.


What inspired you to become a filmmaker, and who and what were your biggest influences in the industry?

My father, who passed away when I was sixteen, did amateur theater in Midland, Texas. So from my youngest age, I remember being at the theater and watching storytelling come to life, and audiences responding. I was hooked. My dad let me watch all sorts of movies, television, and theater, so I really had a handle on so many different genres growing up. I was very lucky when I got to Hollywood that I ended up doing development for one of my all-time heroes, Gene Wilder, who was a brilliant actor, writer, director, and producer. I learned so much from him. I also got to do development for the wonderful Bette Midler. Years later, after having worked for her for so many years as an executive, I got to direct her in Parental Guidance, which was a career-high. Additionally, in doing the movie She's the Man, produced by one of the all-time great producers Lauren Shuler Donner, I was able to meet one of my directing heroes: her husband, the legendary Dick Donner. He patiently allowed me to always pick his brain. But perhaps my biggest influence of all was the wonder that was Garry Marshall – a brilliant actor, writer, director, and producer who I had the pleasure of directing several times. I had the pleasure of his friendship, guidance, and counsel up until the time of his passing. Garry handed me my Ovation award for Best Director for one of my first projects, Reefer Madness, when it was on stage in Los Angeles. From that moment on, he was a guiding force in my career.


Favorite movies from the past decade?

In no particular order, I loved: The King’s Speech, La La Land, Logan, Argo, The Revenant, Hidden Figures, The Theory of Everything, Midnight in Paris, Hell or High Water, The Shape of Water, Get Out, Everything Everywhere All At Once, No Time to Die, Knives Out, and so, so many more.


Which themes and subject matter interest you as a filmmaker?

I'm always fascinated by families, and loss and love within them.


Watch One True Loves