Second Dates

A woman searching for acceptance and love shows us her determination after a series of disastrous second dates. Her quiet emotional strength provides a powerful message for self-reliance and honesty in the face of intolerance.

Creative team

Writer: Amy Wiedmaier
Director: Robert Lawrenson
Producers: Bob Woolsey, Robert Lawrenson

Filmmaker’s statement

Second Dates was produced for the ‘micro-budget’ Vancouver Film School port shorts program and was shot in nine hours.

When I first read Amy’s script, the thing that drew me to it was how she handled the sensitive subject matter through her use of humor. That was something I didn’t want to shy away from. For me it makes the whole film so accessible to its audience.

We came up with a few ideas to ensure that the audience emotionally invested in Karen, and were completely blessed by the engaging and beautiful performance by Sharon Taylor.

My friend Ryan Robbins introduced me to Sharon after we chatted about what I wanted for the lead role. He took it upon himself to explain why someone with her undeniable femininity was indeed just right to play our transgender protagonist. Sharon is a decorated martial artist and her athletic physique really gave us the subtle suggestion towards Karen’s pre-operative masculinity.

Karen had found herself going around in circles with life and relationships and I really wanted to echo that with the camera movement. The pre-planned swapping between dates also cried out to me to go one step further than the editing plan by making a characters and costumes switch effect in camera in order to set up the intercut style.

With little kit, and a very cheap camera stabilizer, we choreographed our actor switches to the second and just about pulled it off in the time we had available. (So grateful to my bemused crew for going along with my adventurous ideas.)

Our location changed three times – our shoot date too – and we finally found the bistro two days before the shoot. Apart from the ice machine and the AC ensuring that I had a huge job in post-sound processing, the location was terrific and required practically no dressing at all. It was almost entirely shot with available light by our excellent cinematographer, Tom Belding.

I love the skyline view of Vancouver from the North Shore so I shot Karen’s ‘reflective’ moment in a guerilla style one-hour shoot the following day after quickly reading the Canon 6D manual in the car on the way. Fortunately, I also edited the film so was able to personally cover up for my dodgy camerawork on the exterior shots in post!

David Milchard had just the right balance of handsome and sensitive to provide the payoff to Karen’s search for happiness.

We are very proud of the final product and I think it serves Amy’s quite lovely script well. And no apologies I’m afraid … I do love a happy ending!”

About Robert Lawrenson

Robert Lawrenson

Born and raised in England, Robert began acting in youth and musical theatre before going on to study drama in York, where he appeared in many contemporary, physical and Shakespearean theatre productions.

He began working as an actor after completing his drama training, performing in a number of leading roles at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland followed by various guest appearances in several prime time TV dramas in the UK.

Robert has had recurring guest starring roles in iconic British television series Coronation Street, Emmerdale and Heartbeat.

Robert directed and produced two short films in 2014 for Vancouver Film School screenwriting students: The Man and the Hole in the Roof starring Ryan Robbins and Second Dates starring Sharon Taylor which premieres through NSI’s Online Short Film Festival.

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