Interview By Paul Salfen
FROM DIRECTOR DAVID FREYNE:
DATING AMBER is my story or, at least, as autobiographical as it will ever get. Alas, all the really cringingly funny moments in the film are the most truthful bits; desperately failing to touch a girl’s breast, nun led sex-ed (the unbelievable video is verbatim based on the real thing) or my mother finding my self-created gay pornography.
As a younger man, I was so wrapped up in the depression and anxiety of being gay that I failed to see the funny side of, well, being wrapped up in the depression and anxiety of being gay.
It didn’t help that all I ever saw on TV or in the movies were gay characters dying of aids or being beaten to death. And as worthy as those stories are, I yearned to see an honest funny depiction of growing up being awkward and closeted.
As much as I wish my teen years resembled Call Me By Your Name, I didn’t look like Timothée Chalamet. And Armie Hammer was definitely not holidaying in the vicinity. Gays and lesbians didn’t exist in separate worlds and toxic masculinity made everyone miserable. Amidst the pain, I realized that there was also so much humour, warmth and love.
DATING AMBER is the film I wanted to see when I was younger. It’s a film about first love (albeit platonic) that is brimming with hope. Eddie and Amber give each other the courage to be who they need to be. They shape who the other is to become.
The film is my love letter to all those kids who felt different and needed to escape in order to be themselves. But while I was making this deeply personal story, I never realized how much the film would resonate with kids today. The outpouring of love, not just from older people, but teenagers, has been phenomenal.
While we may have come a long way, we still live in a straight world. These queer kids, struggling to come to terms with their gender and sexuality, are still everywhere. They are in every small town across Ireland, just as they are in America. They are there today just as much as they were there in the past. And they deserve to see their stories shaped by love and laughter. They deserve their own coming of age story like Superbad and Lady Bird.
Eddie and Amber mean more to me than any characters I’ve ever created. DATING AMBER is their great love story.