“I’m Obsessed With You (But You’ve Got To Leave Me Alone)” is an ensemble feature comedy about four collegiate comedians and one magnetic movie star the day before graduation on a rural college Liberal Arts campus. As members of a college improv group, the characters live their lives following a “yes, and…” prophecy, which often gets them into trouble. Towards the end of the film, we are flashed forward to five years later where they reunite at a wedding.
Writer, actress, and improv comedian Genevieve Adams wrote the initial premise of the movie “I’m Obsessed With You” as a play for her Dartmouth University thesis back in 2011. She had originally titled it “IMPROVed,” winning over professors and students alike with its relatable, authentic characters.
“It’s sort of a quirky, contemplative feature,” Adams told 429Magazine. “It examines those friendships you form in college when you’re at your most vulnerable, during a time of exploration on all sorts of levels: artistic interests, academic interests, sexual orientation. It’s addressing all the sorts of things that are being solidified during those experiences of growth.”
Explaining what led her to write the script, Adams said, “At Dartmouth I encountered all sorts of people from all different walks of life, some artists, some not and they made such a big impression on me. I wanted to record that, which resulted in ‘I’m Obsessed With You.’”
Based on the overwhelmingly positive response at Dartmouth, when Adams moved to New York City, her and director/producer Jon Goracy thought, “Well, what the hell, why don’t we try to put this up in some small theatres.” And just like that they found themselves putting on a production in the Gene Frankel Theater on Bond Street. With a four-night stint on the stage, they had a sold out run.
“It was a crazy hands-on experience. Then when it was over, we missed the characters and we felt like we hadn’t really finished what we’d started,” Adams explained. “We were just spurred on by the energy of the theatrical collaboration. Jon then said to me, ‘this would make a great screenplay.’ And he knew way more about movies than I did. He definitely helped me through that process and was an important collaborator in the writing of it. He was like the story master and I was the dialogue master.”
After countless hours of hard work and a Kickstarter campaign to boot, “I’m Obsessed With You” has made it all the way to big screens of the 2014 Sonoma International Film Festival. And both Adams and Goracy are “really excited” to be taking their movie there.
“It’s the perfect counterpart to the feel of our movie. It feels really good to premiere there,” Goracy, who visited Sonoma earlier this year, told 429Magazine. “The energy of the place, the energy of the movie and the similar vibe, I’m really excited about it. And I’m looking forward to seeing how audiences out there will respond to it.”
He went on to say, “Sonoma, and California as a whole, especially the North Bay, is such an accepting culture in terms of new experiences and the LGBT community that there’s even an LGBT section to the Sonoma Film Festival this year, which will definitely coincide with a couple of the overarching themes that this movie has.”
Adams, who has not yet had the chance to visit Sonoma, added, “the appreciation for food, aesthetics, wine, and Joie de Vivre that seems to be a part of [Sonoma] is also a part of these characters. They enjoy pleasures of life in that way.”
Though Adams originally wrote the premise some years ago, it seemed now was the perfect time to share the movie. Currently there is a strong social and political focus on the millennial generation, “unconventional” lifestyles, and the LGBT community. Adams’ movie draws on all of these themes during college, a time people are unsure where their life will take them. The characters of “I’m Obsessed With You” are quick to “embrace the messiness of that.”
Goracy pointed out that the play was written when “we were just starting to come out of the recession and there was the election coming up,” so financial struggles and student loans are something the characters need to deal with.
Adams sets a tone for the reality of an early millenial college struggle. “I think there are moments showing that impending doom of the [millennial]generation…but ultimately the characters prevail because they have their sense of humours intact. I think it’s a very different view of young people than I’ve been seeing.”
Falling partly into the LGBT movie category at the Sonoma International Film Festival, Adams and Goracy shared their views of the LGBT community in film and their perception of the film’s bisexual character, Nell.
“The movie takes an ownership of it as a part of the natural order of things. It’s like Jason Collins, the only openly gay player in a major US sports league,” Goracy explained. “It was a thing for a few days and then it was a non-issue like it should be a non-issue. We’re at this place where you have to salute it and you definitely should salute it because it took incredible courage for him to do…but it’s really great because within two weeks it became a non-issue.”
“We do a similar thing with Nell. We address it but through her ownership of it and being comfortable in her own skin, it becomes a non-issue. We’re not trying to do any racy thing with it; we’re just trying to say this is the natural thing.”
Adams added, “I think that the LGBT themes are part of the bigger story of the film. They’re, I hope, seamlessly tied in and not cast on for any message purpose. They’re part of the whole.”
She said, “I haven’t really seen college comedy that examines that phenomenon of exploring your sexuality in college in a meaningful way that’s not just raunchy or done for comic effect or over the top.”
Nell’s sexuality is addressed in the film through the character Keri (played by Adams) who is intimidated by Nell feeling comfortable in her own skin. “The rebuttal Nell gives and the way she owns it intimates people like it does Keri so it gets address,” Goracy says.
Adams clarified her view on sexuality in film when she said, “It’s a reality. I didn’t even think about [Nell] like that. She’s Nell Fitzpatrick to me. People could see her as the bisexual character but I don’t think of that. I think she’s the sculptor, the artist, and her sexual orientation is addressed because it involves her romance with Cyrus but it’s not tacked on. It should be in movies now as part of the landscape rather than ‘other’ or ‘different’ in that way.”
Goracy agreed, saying, “Any kind of issue that’s raised such as race, gender, sexuality— it’s usually coming from some kind of pure ignorance. So we’re saying let it go, it’s a non-issue.”
“I’m Obsessed With You” is a unique movie, exploring the intimate relationships between a close group of friends at college, each individually struggling with internal desires, financial burdens and unrequited love during a vulnerable, uncertain time in their lives.
“I’m Obsessed With You (But You’ve Got To Leave Me Alone)” will be playing at the Sonoma Film Festival, which is held in Sonoma from April 2-6.
2014 will be the Festival’s 17th year. The Festival is a five-day event featuring over ninety films including independent features, documentaries, world cinema, shorts, and a showcase of Spanish language films. And in true Sonoma style, the event also offers an incredible experience involving wines and world-class cuisine.