Yes, potential backers worried about the gay subject matter of Andrew Haigh's Weekend, which opened in limited release last weekend.
But they were worried even more, Haigh says, by all the dialogue in the low-budget romantic drama.
"Films seem to avoid that," Haigh, 38, says, prior to a recent screening in Manhattan for the Rooftop Film series. "That frustrates me. There was this real fear of having people talk too much. But in real life, I do a lot of talking. There are a lot of independent films with people talking a lot and, when it's done well, it builds an enormous amount of character. That's what I want to see -- I want to understand the characters. But for some reason, people were afraid of it."
Weekend is mostly talk, in long, uncut takes -- talk interrupted by sex and, sometimes, the silence of longing. Haigh's film, which he wrote and directed, deals with a not-quite-out gay man in Nottingham, England, who meets a guy in a bar, has sex with him -- and winds up spending a long couple of days getting closer and closer. The intensity of the sudden relationship is increased when it turns out that his new partner is leaving shortly for two years in the United States.
The depth of the connection, Haigh says, is in direct proportion to the brevity of the acquaintance.
"I've had that -- most people have," he says. "Even if it's not sexual -- there's this handful of people that you meet, on holiday or wherever, and you have this short relationship. But they stick in your memory and resonate.
"I'm convinced that, when you're in those moments, you let your guard down and say, 'Fuck it,' and just be a bit more honest."
Haigh had been working on the script for a couple of years but found that, as is usually the case, finding the money to make it was tough.
"That's always the biggest challenge," he says. "I wrote it and started sending it out and the reaction from most of the organizations was 'No.' They couldn't work out who the audience would be and whether there was an interesting enough story being told. So that was frustrating.
"It's funny -- a lot of companies that are interested in diverse voices aren't interested in this sort of thing. So it took time."
Haigh, whose previous feature was Greek Pete, got his start as an assistant editor on a number of Ridley Scott's films (Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, Kingdom of Heaven) and other big-budget fare (Shanghai Knights, Mona Lisa Smile).
"I learned that it was really about learning what you don't need," he says. "Being simple in how you approach the editing and the shoot is more important than shooting every scene from every conceivable angle just to stop people from getting bored.
"People tend to cut on the moment that's most dramatic. To me, it's what happens after that's important. To me, it's about letting the film breathe a little more, even if it bores the audience a little."
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