A Swingers Weekend featured

When Swapping Partners isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be: A Chat with the Filmmakers and Cast Behind ‘A Swingers Weekend’

May 2, 2018Ben MK

Who among us hasn't been a third wheel, or has never found ourselves in an awkward situation we couldn't get out of? But can you imagine if you were the third wheel at a swingers party? Could there possibly be a more awkward situation than that?

In the indie comedy A Swingers Weekend, that's exactly the situation dysfunctional couple Geoffrey (Jonas Chernick) and Fiona (Mia Kirshner) find themselves in, when they join free-spirited Teejay (Michael Xavier) and Skai (Erin Agostino) at a lakeside swingers weekend hosted by happily married Dan (Randal Edwards) and Lisa (Erin Karpluk). Maybe Geoffrey should have thought things through when he figured a little partner-swapping would be the cure-all for his and Fiona's marriage woes. And what about Dan and Lisa — did they consider the implications their little sexual experiment might have on their comparatively rosy relationship?

I caught up with the director of A Swingers Weekend, Jon E. Cohen, and his co-writer, Nicola Sammeroff, as well as a few of the cast members, to chat about the film and to pose a few fun questions at the actors about their roles.

What prompted you to make A Swingers Weekend?

Sammeroff: Firstly, we got the location for free, and that was an opportunity we couldn't pass up! And secondly, we wanted to make a film that was small enough in scope that we could produce ourselves. 6 characters, 1 location... the idea of swinging was, for us, a fun way to get these characters together where we could really explore their relationships. We sort of had a guiding theme; can you be happy as a couple if you are not happy as an individual. And how much should you rely on your partner for your own personal happiness.

Even though it's not a reunion movie, you might say that, in a way, the film follows in the footsteps of the likes of The Big Chill or Indian Summer. Were there any movies that you drew inspiration from as you were making A Swingers Weekend?

Cohen: I love ensemble pieces where individuals or couples get together for a finite period of time and hash out issues in their lives, à la The Big Chill or Jean Renoir's The Rules of the Game, which is a personal favorite. That said, I didn't really have any picture in mind, specifically, when making this film. Just exploring that kind of dynamic. I hope people of a similar age as myself and Nicola will identify on some level with these characters and the issues they're facing.

How much did you identify with your character? Or is there another character in the film that you relate to more?

Chernick: The character I play in the film — Geoffrey — is unhappy. Unhappy in his marriage, with his career, with his life. In that sense, I don't identify with him at all. I couldn't imagine a happier life for myself. I'm blessed with two amazing daughters, the greatest wife on the planet and a very satisfying career. But I had to find a "way in" to play Geoffrey, so I drew on a relationship I had in my 20's, which was pretty tortured and dramatic and dysfunctional. So while I don't currently identify with the character, I get him. Cuz I've been there.

Agostino: Skai goes after what she wants, she's fearless, has no qualms about using her sexuality to get ahead, and if you're in her path she will either toss you aside or somehow convince you that it's your decision to get out of the way... with all that being said, I'm nothing like Skai. Pretty much the exact opposite!

Edwards: I think there are always things you have to find in characters you play that you can relate to. That being said, part of the fun for me playing Dan is that we are so different.

Karpluk: Hmm. Of all the characters, I guess would relate to mine the most — she's quite type A and likes to do things by the book. Even swinging, apparently! I've never been married but can identify with being in a relationship and needing to keep things exciting.

Have you ever been the third wheel?

Edwards: Who hasn't! Luckily, I think I've learned enough at this point in my life to either pull the chute and disappear or for my own pleasure stay and make things awkward.

Chernick: Oh, I've been the third wheel. In university, my two best friends had long-term girlfriends and I was single. And lonely. I tagged along a LOT for those few years. It's not fun. I mean, it wasn't fun for me, but I'm sure it way worse for the four of them having to drag a sad, lonely, pathetic loser around with them everywhere they went. Sigh.

Karpluk: Third, fifth, seventh, ninth and at a recent dinner party I was even a 13th! The majority of my friends are married, so I'm often the odd gal out, which is always fine. I love being single and my friends never make me feel like an outsider. I do not swing with my friends, though! Gross, all of my girlfriends hubbies are like brothers to me.

Agostino: I have definitely been the third wheel in my life... the occasional "tag along" with a couple... but if I remember correctly, it was usually met with instant regret that I wasn't alone in sweatpants, eating chips and watching Netflix.

Do you have a strategy or technique for getting out of awkward situations?

Edwards: Nah, I prefer the more awkward the better!

Karpluk: I've worked a lot on communicating over the past few years — so if things get awkward, I like to talk it out. Depends on the situation. Sometimes you just have to sit in awkwardness — as an actor, I kind of geek out in feeling taboo emotions (jealousy, guilt, rage, shame, humility) because it helps inform me to bring that to life in characters. That said, if I really need to bail, I will try to make a gracious exit. Some of my friends know when we "pull on our earring" that's a signal to save each other from an unwanted conversation/situation.

Chernick: I LOVE awkward situations. I really do. Why would I want to get out of them? They're so rich with hilarity and truth, and they're basically at the core of every role I've ever played and every screenplay I've ever written. My favorite thing to do during an awkward situation is to call it out as such. "So, um... this is pretty awkward." Watch the air get sucked out of the room. Or, on occasion, it can lighten the mood and make everyone laugh. And the best? When the situation isn't quite awkward yet, but is potentially headed in that direction? Nothing pushes a moment into full-blown awkwardness that me saying, "Oooooh-kay, this is super awkward."

Agostino: Wine.

A Swingers Weekend is now playing at Imagine Carlton Cinema in Toronto and is also available to rent on iTunes.

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