I do(n’t) stars Katelyn McCulloch and Jeremie Saunders as a couple who find themselves questioning the institution of marriage after one last night on the town together before their wedding day with just ten dollars to spend.
The film presents an intimate portrait of being in love and the emotional struggle that comes with pushing back against the pressures of life. It will leave you feeling both refreshed and empowered... and might just leave you in tears.
In addition to appearing on screen, McCulloch wrote, directed and produced I do(n’t). She says she was inspired by a combination of personal experience and the desire to tell more female-driven stories in the comedy/feel good space.
“I was engaged at the time and hated the expectations around marriage, relationships and what I was supposed to do or want as a woman. I wanted to explore those themes and ideas, but in a cute and playful way,” she says. “I also grew up loving rom coms, but I always felt like they ended in very traditional ways, so I wanted to make one that encapsulated romance and love, but had a modern, female point of view.”
I do(n’t) was shot throughout Nova Scotia over a three-day period in 2022. As McCulloch explains, one of the biggest challenges she faced was managing her multiple roles on the project, both in front of and behind the camera.
“As the director, I worked very closely with my amazing DP Jack Leahy in pre-production to make sure we were aligned in terms of our vision for the film,” she says. “Because I was directing and acting, and we were shooting very quickly, I really trusted him to take care of our visuals while I was working with the actors and taking care of any additional production.”
“It felt so great to work with a friend I trusted who I knew believed in me and the project and would show up ready to play.”
McCulloch and Saunders combine for some wonderful moments together throughout the film, and the pair consistently match the spirit and energy of their co-star’s performance. According to McCulloch, there is a very simple explanation for their great on-screen chemistry.
“Jeremie and I were actually high school sweethearts! We’re now super close buds and Jeremie does a lot of public speaking and hosts different podcasts, but I always knew him to be a great actor,” she says. “I wrote this script with him in mind and told him he had to be in it and he said, ‘Yes.’ It felt so great to work with a friend I trusted who I knew believed in me and the project and would show up ready to play.”
Despite the amount of the work that went into making the film, McCulloch says that the project was both a “true labor of love” and one that produced a number of personal highlights.
“I loved shooting the montage sequences. We had our locations selected, but everything we did during them was about Jeremie and I improvising with the spaces,” she says. “I love it when actors are free to explore and follow their impulses and this energy carried into the scripted work as well.”
“Things will always go not as planned, but you have to stay nimble and open because sometimes what seems like a setback is an opportunity to make something even better.”
The film was produced on just $1,500, most of which went into post-production work, various craft services and festival submissions. With such a limited budget, if there was one thing they could have bought more of, McCulloch says, it would have been time.
“Things will always go not as planned, but you have to stay nimble and open because sometimes what seems like a setback is an opportunity to make something even better,” she says. “I’m really proud of my team from beginning to end for showing up so fully to the process. Everyone’s work shines in this film and I’m so grateful to them and their hard work.”
I do(n’t) is set to take on the Vaughn International Film Festival this month (with more screenings in the works later this summer). McCulloch says she hopes the film will inspire others to seek out and form relationships that work for them and leave “feeling all the warm-and-fuzzies.”
“People watch it and ‘Awww’ and laugh and are often moved to tears while watching the film and it makes my heart so happy,” she says. “This is a film that is supposed to give you butterflies and leave you feeling hopeful in love, and based on the feedback, it’s working!”