Boy meets girl. Boy sweeps girl off her feet. Boy and girl live happily ever after. It's a fairytale narrative, but as most of us well know, it's not how real people date in real life. Filmmaker Andrew Jenks' new web series, "It's About A Girl," explores the wide chasm between how we think our love stories should go and how they actually play out.
"It's About A Girl," stars Jenks as a nameless 20-something New Yorker looking for love and encountering some stumbling blocks along the way. Each episode features a fantasy sequence and then the (far less glamourous) reality. The 27-year-old, best known for his MTV documentary series "World of Jenks," spoke with The Huffington Post over email about his new web series (watch the trailer above), the challenges of dating in New York City and how hard it is to be single.
The whole series is about fantasy vs. reality. How has that contrast played out in your own romantic life?
I was in a relationship for years, and that is something I can’t really explain because it was so awesome. And I am a relationship guy. I am in that phase [of my life] right now. And I’ll tell you what, it is really hard to meet women. I don’t know how people do it. I was talking to a good friend who has been in a great marriage for like 15 years. And he said, "8/10, Jenks. 8/10. You can’t meet a woman or be in a relationship where you get 10/10."
I thought that was an interesting way to put it. Fantasy is 10/10. Reality is 8/10 -- if you’re really lucky.
You've said that "It's About A Girl" has been a passion project of yours for nearly a decade. What was going on in your life seven years ago that inspired the idea for this project?
I was 20. And I was single -- so, so single. Whenever I was walking around the city I would notice so many beautiful women. And I’d start to think about what the perfect woman would be like -- a scientist, or an engineer -- women that were really smart or came from a unique background or was really funny (to make up for me not being funny). And I kept thinking, man, what if I had the guts to go up to one of these women? I'm a normal guy. I can talk and be cool. But I never did.
I had a weekend off from editing the pilot of my MTV show ["World of Jenks"] and sometimes rather than therapy, I love to work and get my mind off things. So I made a two-minute video that weekend, edited it together, made a few DVD copies and then forgot about it until a few months ago.
What made you return to the project now?
I had finished shooting a project, I was in pre-production for a documentary, but I had some extra time here and there. And I got restless. I needed something to do. I had just finished publicizing season 2 of our MTV show and a close, close friend of mine said that the two-minute love video was the best thing I had done. It got me thinking. Friends can have that sort of influence on you. When GANT Rugger said they’d help me produce it, I immediately took it on.
Why did you choose to portray the characters in "It's About A Girl" without names or words?
I tried to remind myself this was just a nice love story -- nothing bigger than that. So I thought simplicity was important. Less is usually more. I thought the right music and imagery would be more than enough to tell this story. Dialogue would have muddled it. By working with such a great music supervisor, Laura Webb, and a great DP in Mike Sierakowski, I hope we pulled off that tone.
I also have always really liked the “Before Sunrise” movies and the way those films [are simple], while really capturing the essence of a relationship.
Is there a specific message that you hope people take away from watching the series?
In the past I have been lucky enough to work on documentaries about people from all walks of life, and some were on the more serious side (senior living, cancer, gang violence, physical abuse). The people were all inspiring but I think it got to me a bit. So I hope this is fun for people to watch -- a simple love story that hopefully you can relate to in some capacity. Definitely not trying to change the world or be so earnest with this project.
Do you have any plans to explore relationships in future projects? A romantic comedy, perhaps?
One thing that I really respect about Lena Dunham is how she writes [her male characters]. She is really good at presenting how modern-day guys can sometimes be. I am currently developing a scripted television show, and there is a female character that the main male character has a thing for. I pictured this woman that I have always respected and wrote [the character] thinking about what she would say, how she would react to situations. The only way for me to write a woman’s role is to think of someone I know.
What do you think are the biggest challenges are of dating in major metropolis like New York?
Everyone is from all over the place so you never know what you’re going to get. Most places in the world, the majority of people are from that area. Sometimes I walk by a big apartment building and think, "I bet that perfect woman is in there." But how would I know that? I don’t even know the five other people that live on my floor.
HuffPost Women will be premiering an episode of "It's About A Girl" each week, starting this week. Check back to see the story unfold.
This interview has been edited and condensed.