For the real-life couple behind the Canadian indie rom-com “A Date with Misfortune” opening today, movie making is a cross-cultural family affair.
Our family began in January 2000, when Jeannette and I met at an audition. I believe it was a commercial audition for Radio Shack. We were brought into the room to play girlfriend and boyfriend. Sadly, neither of us booked the gig, however, we did end up booking the marriage three years later.
We had very similar interests (acting, filmmaking, traveling) yet we came from completely different backgrounds. Even though we were both so interested in the film industry that we have asked the question is acting school worth it? We still have our differences. Jeannette grew up in a large Portuguese family in Mississauga and Toronto, while I came from a small family and grew up in Okotoks-a small town in Alberta whose population at the time was smaller than that of Jeannette’s high school. Our similar interests made for good conversation, but it was our cultural differences that made for a fun and interesting life. I was introduced to Portuguese food, language, culture and some superstition. I was not really familiar with any of it. I sometimes make fun of Jeannette’s superstitions but even I prefer to put my left hockey sock on before my right, so who am I to talk? It was these differences that set the ground work for our film, “A Date with Miss Fortune,” which is a cross-cultural romantic comedy inspired by true life events.
“A Date with Miss Fortune” is the first feature film that we worked on together. We shared the responsibility of co-writing, co-producing and co-starring. It was during the writing process that Jeannette became pregnant with our daughter, Kristin. Kristin literally grew up with the movie and constantly says, “I helped make the movie,” which is absolutely true. She has been the calm in the storm that is filmmaking. Through the ups and downs she remained the one consistent joy in our lives. A great reason and reminder of what is truly important-family. She still refers to Joaquim de Almeida as “mommy’s movie daddy.” She is so cute and smart!
Balancing the film with family proved difficult through the pre-production, production, post-production and now promotion stage of our movie. Especially when we are required to work from home. When your two-year-old sees that you’re at home, she figures it’s playtime, despite all the work you have to do. It’s impossible to say no, so we just reduced the hours we would sleep. It almost became a game where Jeannette and I would try and hide the fact that we were working in front of her. That required a lot of tag teaming and co-parenting. We joke that our movie is like our second child, a lot of dirty diapers and sleepless nights!
For the times that we were on set or in the studio we had help from “Vavó” and “Vavô” (grandparents in Portuguese) and Nana and Papa. It was really a family affair, which is why I think there is so much emphasis on family in our film. We simply could not have made “A Date with Miss Fortune” without the support of both our families. On the next project Jeannette and I promised each other to not wear as many hats. It’s okay when one of us is busy but when we are both swamped on the same project, work life has a funny way of creeping into our personal lives.
Like many families, we are simply doing our best to provide for our daughter and lead by example. We hope that by achieving our goals and dreams, it lets her know that with a lot of hard work and determination, anything is possible. To make it all work, Jeannette and I perform the circus act that is parenting. We juggle schedules, we clown around to make our daughter (and ourselves) laugh and we are magicians (hopefully good ones) with the slight of hand to distract Kristin from realizing that mommy and daddy do a lot of work. We are the Ringmasters that let our daughter know that our world revolves around her despite what goes on outside our home or on a movie set. She is periodically looking at me as I write this. She patiently colours in her princess colouring book, and now I know it’s time to end this and grab a crayon to join her.
You can find our Q&A with Ryan and Jeannette here.
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