Danny Morgan on the journey that brought Double Date to the screen – and finally to DVD and Blu-ray too.
It was the summer of 2011. I was sat in my pants, in a 5-star hotel room in Montreal, waiting to be called on to the set of a movie. I’d just finished my 200th room service club sandwich of the week and the last episode of a Mad Men box set when I sat back and thought to myself… I’m bored. I couldn’t believe I was thinking this. What an ungrateful a-hole! How can you be bored? My whole life I’d dreamt of acting in a big film and now it was here… and I was bored?! I mean don’t get me wrong, it still beat the hell out of my other temp jobs, but creatively it wasn’t very… fulfilling.
The film was On The Road, and when I was actually on set and shooting it was one of the best experiences of my life. But those days were few and far between. “They don’t pay you to act, they pay you to wait around.” I can’t remember who said that, but dammit, they were right. So I think the epiphany I had that day, as I wiped crumbs off my bloated belly and contemplated life without Don Draper, was that I was sick of waiting. Waiting for an audition. Waiting to be called onto set. Waiting for someone to ask me to help them tell their story. I want to tell my own stories! That’s what I shouted as I stood up on my hotel bed that day. “Pardon?” Asked the scared maid as she folded my towels. “Nothing, sorry.” I replied.
Then I sat down, opened my laptop and thought ‘I’m gonna write a film script! How hard can it be?!’ Turns out… really bloody hard. I had absolutely no idea how to write a screenplay, but I’d read enough as an actor and I felt like I had a strong idea. A double date where the girls are trying to kill the boys and the boys don’t know it. It was simple, not too many characters, short timeline. I thought it was a good starting point. So I ordered another club sandwich and got to work. A few weeks later, I had my first draft! Or as my good friend (and director) Ben Barfoot calls it, the vomit draft. Lovely, eh? Just let it all come out. He even holds my hair back sometimes when I’m writing. Sorry. So I’ve got this awful script and absolutely no idea who to show it to.
Well as luck would have it, a few months later, I wake up one morning with a nasty hangover and a mysterious business card in my wallet from somebody called ‘Matthew Wilkinson – Film Producer’. I had zero recollection of talking to this person, but after sending him an email it turned out I’d spent the entire night blabbing to him about my ‘amazing’ script. I met Matthew at his office a few days later, pretending I remembered our encounter at the bar, and he told me he’d read Double Date, it was the best script he’d ever seen, and we would start filming it for 100 million dollars the very next day. Then we won loads of Oscars, became stupid rich and lived happily ever after. Or… he told me my script was not good. My heart sank. But, he said, there is potential there. That’s all I needed to hear. I was a writer!
Matt then basically spent the next two years teaching me about script writing (he started out as a writer and is like some kind of script guru) and we slowly honed this mess into something that resembled a screenplay. I’ll forever be grateful to Matty for doing that for me. He really didn’t have to. I think he was probably bored at the time too. Now he’s producing Danny Boyle films, so thank god I met him when he was a nobody!
Then for the next year or so, Matt would be off in the strange world of producers and investors, trying to muster some interest in the project. All the while giving me notes on the script. The general feedback was that people liked the concept, but that horror/comedy was a hard sell. Mainly due to how many terrible examples there have been.
But we decided to plough forward anyway and bring our budget down to around the £500,000 mark. That was when the idea of Ben Barfoot directing became a reality. Ben was a person I’d worked with during our time starting out at MTV. I was an idiot in front of camera and he was mainly an editor (he’s like the Mozart of Final Cut, it’s insane). But it wasn’t until a few years later, actually just after I’d shot On The Road, that we started making short films together. They were silly and dark and (we thought) funny, and we had so much fun making them. Please go check out ‘Where Did It All Go Ron?’ on YouTube for our finest work. We just loved creating together, and when Matt finally saw these shorts, the three of us met up… and the power trio was born!
From that point on, Ben was attached to direct Double Date as his first feature. It was all very exciting. A few more drafts of the script later, and we felt pretty confident with our product and this team. Then one night, in a pub (common theme appearing here), Matty gave us the news. He’d secured £750,000 to make Double Date. I’ll always remember that night. Mostly because me and Ben were jumping up and down and hugging, and Matt could barely lift his pint he was so exhausted from fighting for our silly movie. To be honest, you could write a book about the making of a film. One thousand words here is tough. It’s such an epic process filled with amazing moments and incredibly hardworking people. From that day in the Montreal hotel room to today (we’re about to have our DVD/online release) is about eight years. Writing is insanely hard and I’ve still got loads to learn, but I’m so proud of this film, and of Matt and Ben, and of myself.
And one thing’s for certain… I’m definitely not bored anymore.
Double Date is available now on DVD, Blu-ray and download.
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