“The Origins of the Story”
The origins of TiMER can be traced to an event that traditionally marks the ending—rather than the beginning—of a romantic comedy. Writer/Director Jac Schaeffer explains, “It all started with my brother’s wedding. In the months preceding the big day, my mother kept one of those time-to-go clocks on her desk. It’s this migraine-inducing device that counts backward so that you know how much time you have left to plan. I would stop by the house and become transfixed by this clock from hell: ‘My brother is marrying the love of his life in 71 days, 22 hours, 53 minutes, 8 seconds…7 seconds…6 seconds…OH MY GOD!’ My mom would look at the dwindling numbers and wonder if she was going to have everything ready in time. Being super single at the time, I looked at it and thought, ‘Can everyone hear my ovaries shriveling up?’
Schaeffer theorized that a time-go-clock would be especially handy in the dating world. If technology could tell a person A) that he/she does indeed have a soul mate and B) precisely what time to expect him/her, the product would be a sensation. But in turning this idea into a screenplay, she began to suspect that knowing your romantic fate might cause more problems than it would solve. Schaeffer questions, “Let’s say you discover you’ll meet your perfect match when you’re 27. Would you wait chastely, hands folded in your lap, until he or she came along? Or would you sow your proverbial oats until that fateful meeting? What if you meet your soul mate when you’re 14? Do you forfeit the experience of dating other people? How about you find your life partner at age 48? You’d focus on your career, right? Personally, I’d waste years wallowing in my loneliness, certain I got a raw deal.”
Producer Rikki Jarrett came onboard the project as Schaeffer formulated an array of sympathetic and hilarious characters saddled with a variety of TiMER scenarios. Jarrett says, “Jac’s ideas are unlike anyone else’s. When she told me the concept I knew if afforded the opportunity to tell so many different stories. And I knew it would capture people’s imaginations. I love asking people if they would get a TiMER. It always sparks great conversation.” With this enthusiasm for the project, Jarrett helped Schaeffer develop the script over the course of a year.
As the story took its final shape, Jennifer Glynn joined the team, attracted to the themes of the piece: “Our life experiences make us who we are. The TiMER denies the characters the craziness of failed relationships. They miss out on the ecstasy and the agony of those mistakes. I mean, we almost named the film ‘Love is a Hot Mess’ because that’s really what we’re talking about.”
Now that the film is complete, Schaeffer has a new perspective on the TiMER. She says, “As tempting as it would be to turn my mother’s time-to-go clock into a countdown to meeting my soul mate, I know that a watched pot never boils.” Oona, the frustrated and endlessly appealing heroine of TiMER, must learn this lesson. Ignoring the ticking clock is the only way to live a full life. As Schaeffer attests: “Her story—and my story, and the story of anyone looking for love— isn’t about happily ever after. It’s about everything that comes before.”