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An Interview with Tim McSpadden, Director of Love a la Carte

by Mike Haberfelner

March 2015

Films directed by Tim McSpadden on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new movie Love a la Carte - in a few words, what is it about?


It’s about 88-minutes. Also, its about struggling monogamists living a polyamory lifestyle using online dating to help them survive a marriage in crisis.


With Love a la Carte basically being a burnt-out relationship and attempts to make it work again - is this at all based on personal experiences? And your general thought on monogamous and polyamorous relationships?


All good fiction should have a strong personal point of view in some regard. Certainly I drew upon personal experiences along with ideas I pulled from interviews, research or common marital discord themes. This kind of question always makes me wonder if zombie movie writers get asked if they like eating people? Well in Love a la Carte, I identify more with the wife “Evelyn” (evil-Lynn) because she wants to know why she should continue with a marriage she knows has been over for a while or perhaps shouldn’t have gotten into in the first place. Other married people she knows seem to be just as miserable as she is but they trudge along like sheep to the slaughter - but why and how? That part of the story is closest to me personally and I’d also like to think that if I was “Evelyn”, I’d look this good as a woman. Yes, "I do” still believe in the fairy tale of monogamy with that special someone, though some mammalian scientists and many characters in my movie do not. Everybody needs to be true to who they are in the relationship for it to work but also be flexible for the other person’s needs and above all else, forever loyal to the lives you bring into the world (that means your kids). With any luck, your marriage will be fulfilling and make it to the wonderful finishing line of death before it's all over, if that’s the way it's supposed to be. Breaking up is hard to do; staying together is even harder. This movie just shows you what some marriages in the 21st century do to stay together and wait out the clock until “it gets better”, to borrow a term from Dan Savage.


Other sources of inspiration when writing Love a la Carte?


A Guide for the Married Man (1967), Divorce Italian Style (1961), The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980).


When telling your story, you haven't chosen the exactly linear approach - so do talk about your approach to storytelling for a bit?


Too many movies about infidelity tap dance all around the subject with a "will he do it or will he not" approach in their story telling (I Think I Love My Wife (2007)). Not so with Love a la Carte. After some frivolous set-up rationalization about the history of casual sex, the main title love theme song about male genitalia is followed by a mother masturbating to the memory of her tryst with our anti-hero "Phil Anders". He explains to you a bit why he is "ankles high" in having affairs, and then backing up we go to the beginnings as to "why" and how he got there ... because this is his version of events, "his story". So there's no linear, one way approach to infidelity but one with many moving parts. I tried to visualize a lot of things that happen internally in someone's mind and how they might rationalize their doomed decisions. Such as when you're in a chat room and all you see are texts appearing on a screen. Tinder is full of spam bots. Who are these jackasses answering you or giving you some sort of cyber come on? In real life, you could pinch these people on the nose. But online, they're a whole different animal. Love a la Carte gives a face to this sort of behavior.


I've called your movie (in slightly different words) a romantic comedy especially for people who don't like romantic comedies - a comment you can at all live with?


Yes, I thought that was a really clever and a nice, sarcastic way to explain this movie that some people have a hard time explaining. I mean, yes there's a love triangle going on but then there's fantasy elements, over the top violence, an immigration story thread, actors breaking the 4th wall talking to camera, dance numbers, karaoke, a sponsorship segment, 3 alternate endings and the Planet Saturn. Your description summed things up nicely with a odd twist and I like how it fits with the Love a la Carte universe.


A few words about your movie's very own brand of humour?


It's an acquired taste. Some times it might come off as a bit salty to you. Other times, it'll be sweet as creamy pineapple. So relax. If you're not a prude, you'll enjoy a big sticky load of fun.


What can you tell us about your overall directorial approach to your story at hand?


Make sure you capture the essence of the scene with your actors' performances and shot selection, especially if you're using a single camera - then do it "one more time for fun." I'm terrified something technical will screw up what I believe captured the scene. So after I feel we got it, I like to re-assure the actors that since the hard part is now over, have fun on this next take because as Peter Criss sang, "you've got nothing to lose." So have some fun. Sometimes we get that bonus good take. Evidently, I said that term a lot. A cast member gave me a director tee-shirt with that slogan "one more time for fun!"


Tim in bed with Cauna Mae, Kimber Leigh

Julie Van Lith, Aaron Ginn-Forsberg

Do talk about your key cast for a bit, and why exactly these people?


I wanted the best local actors working in Phoenix, Arizona. They weren't available, so I got this group (LOL). Aaron Ginn-Forsberg helped another actress audition for the role of the wife and I ended up casting him as our husband about 8 months later. He was the 4th choice essentially at a time when I was trying all sorts of ideas on who might fit this role such as local comedians and former soap opera stars. As much as I tried to screw up not casting him, common sense prevailed and he was hired. Turns out that was a brilliant thing for me to do, since he was also very helpful on set as an accidental producer or 1st AD himself. Aaron would help other actors with their performances and also knew the language of indie production, and I often did not have to explain to him why I wanted to strangle someone. Chauna Mae (the wife) and James Ray (the best friend) were both found in the audition process with our CSA casting director Faith Hibbs-Clark, as were many other talented, local actors. I loved Chauna’s whole take on how to be a cold hearted, distant wife in the husband’s version of the story ... and also her voice. You can be a pretty actress and have acting skills but if your voice sounds like a cat in heat, it won’t work. Chauna's husky voice dripped of honey, a late night FM Jazz deejay and reminded me of Scarlett Johansson or Kathleen Turner. If you listen closely to Chauna, underneath all that bitchy exterior in the movie you’ll hear a little “honk” that reminds you she’s actually very sweet soul. James Ray I considered a lot as the husband that Aaron eventually played and really was upset that no one believed the same as I did that he could be that guy. He’s a natural and so good at being the good guy that I was trying to cast against type, but was constantly advised not to do so since I was risking so much already and needed a character with a strong moral compass. Many times when people have nothing good to say about this whole movie, they’ll find something good to say about James’ performance and what his character represents as they identify with him the most. Kimber Leigh [Kimber Leigh interview - click here] was the last piece of the puzzle as "the other woman" and auditioned outside of a radio station on the street when the last actress in the role had a diva moment that I could not stomach and let go. I found Kimber through Facebook. She was like the female version of Aaron in that she was very helpful to the production with bringing in other actors to our set that she had worked with on other films. I called them “Kimber’s Posse”. There’d be a shooting day I’d realize we’d need 30 people at a rooftop bar lounge. I’d say, “Kimber, help!” Kimber would then put on her Super Hero Actor’s cape and save the day, making me look brilliant yet again. Through Kimber’s posse and others our casting director Faith brought in through auditions, I found most my actors. Aaron hooked me up with a friend that had a Red camera. Chauna cast her son as the child in the movie. That’s how it went. Everyone who acted in Love a la Carte usually brought something more to the movie than just their role. We were blessed in that regard. A merry band of misfits, this Love a la Carte company.


A few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?


Very professional, yet casual. My shooting days were never really long or angst ridden, so it was fun. At the most, 9 hours. We might get to a point in the day and go, "damn its hot. Let's stop and get a beer." Then we'd not film for 2 months, then we'd pick up a few scenes. Very casual. As time passed, it was more like vacation for some of us. "Hey, lets go to Monument Valley and shoot 30 seconds." Which brings up another point. I knew I could have shot this movie in my front yard or in one location, across a picnic table. But I wanted it to be epic and Arizona has a lot of epic locations. I filmed in almost all of them.


What can you tell us about audience and critical reception of Love a la Carte so far?


Just starting out. Some like it, some don't. It won a "best screenplay" award at a festival, but I felt it should have been given "best picture". The movie played the market at the Cannes Film Festival, didn't sell theatrically, but was picked up for digital distribution. I enjoy the most the ratings and reviews the audience leaves for Love a la Carte where it plays online at Amazon, iTunes or Vimeo. Sure some things could have been better, but so could have the writing, directing and editing. I couldn’t fire that guy, but I’m proud of what he accomplished. Sometimes the wrong audience will find it and trash it. Other times our target market finds it and can empathize. I always enjoy to understand “why” someone feels the movie sucked or was great or somewhere in-between. Those are the best receptions to receive.


Any future projects you'd like to share?


Go here and find out more: I learned too many things and made too many mistakes not to do this again on my own. I like being totally in control in that regard, but I'm also writing scripts for bigger productions, too.


What got you into filmmaking to begin with, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?


As a kid, I learned early on being creatively entertaining made you attractive to people and helped you make more friends than enemies. I enjoyed writing, so I made comic books, lots of small films, got a college education, worked in local TV as a writer/producer making commercials and promos. I did pretty well, made it to the number 1 TV market in the world and then did some nationwide work. I was sad there were no more TV worlds left to conquer in creative services, so when the means of making a movie got democratized, I took my shot with becoming my own movie mogul. I needed a new part of my brain to scratch.


What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Love a la Carte?


Technically, this is my first feature film. I had the occasional gig here and there and amateur projects. I tired to make local TV look cinematic. I ghost wrote projects for other people that went nowhere. I also wrote a lot of my own screenplays that got some smoke, but no fire. Having made my own movie, now I understand better as to why. As a writer, I'd be so proud of my wondeful prose and gaze fondly at the words. "Oh, aren't you clever, Tim." As a director, I'd curse that writer for not giving enough detail as to how I was supposed to film a scene. “Who the hell writes 3 pages of dialogue with no description?" As the producer, I’d worry about funding the production. “How are we going to pay for the special effects and the 5.1 audio mix?" As the editor, I curse the director for scenes that messed up the pacing or didn’t push the story forward. As the marketer of the movie, I struggle to find the audience and then to get that audience to watch the movie when there’s so many more content options available.


How would you describe yourself as a director?


Fearless and naive.


Filmmakers who inspire you?


Independent filmmakers that make it to the finish line of making a feature length movie inspire me. When you meet one, its like re-assuring and self-therapy for shared wounds of a painful, yet incredibly satisfying creative experience. "How did you do THAT effect? Don't you wish the bands in your soundtrack promoted your movie? Who did your closed-captioning?" I also appreciate reading about or listening to the DVD commentaries of successful indie filmmakers like Mark Duplass or Edward Burns who explain how they created what they did. Listening them is inspiring because they give back.


Your favourite movies?


Citizen Kane, Casablanca, Chinatown, are my go-to examples of the best. Smaller regional and festival movies by filmmakers that have a unique vision and a story that resonates tend to be my favorites.


... and of course, films you really deplore?


Violent movies that have no blood or real consequence to them. I'll always remember Saving Private Ryan because that first 20 minutes really showed you how horrific war truly is without ever being in a war. I was excited to watch the recent movie Fury, but felt it pulled its punches. I may be too confrontational and I know movies are supposed to be escapism, but I feel some horror movies or action films get too much of a pass on the violence from audiences. Some people have an easier time with a bullets flying by than they do with nudity. I guess I side more often with the Bonobos of the world than the Chimpanzees.


Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?


Please watch my movie Love a la Carte and leave your rating and review on iTunes: or on Amazon: or Vimeo: You can watch the movie with the cast and me here:


Feeling lucky ?
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Great Britain (a.k.a. the United Kingdom)

Germany (East AND West)

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Your shop for all things Thai

Something naughty ?
(Must be over 18 to go there !)

x-rated  find Tim McSpadden at

Then if you’d like, you can find "love now” here just like the characters in the movie at: You’re also welcome to follow me on Twitter @TimMcSpadden or the movie @LovealaCarte. Or download the Love a la Carte mobile apps or read up on the many years of making Love a la Carte on Facebook: Love a la Carte is everywhere and only getting larger.


Anything else you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?


If someone has read this far into this interview, perhaps they're looking for inspiration into making their own movie. I'm here to say "go for it." I encourage you to make that leap of faith and go make your dreams a reality. Stop waiting for your lucky break and make your own magic. Don't ask for permission. Take it. Don't hope someone notices you; jump on stage. The truth is, yes you can make a feature film on your own and reach a global audience. Movies made on iPhones are playing Sundance nowadays. It's okay to have a day job and to chase your dreams at night. Make mistakes. Fail. Try again. It might take you a few years to get your movie done and you'll struggle to do it, but your perseverance and endurance will get you through and you'll be rewarded with something creatively satisfying and your own.


Thanks for the interview!


Thanks for asking me!


© by Mike Haberfelner

Legal note: (re)Search my Trash cannot
and shall not be held responsible for
content of sites from a third party.

Thanks for watching !!!



Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD