Due out in 2022, the short-form documentary explores the evolving nature of romantic relationships during COVID-19. The documentary highlights individual stories that are seen through the eyes of New Yorkers seeking love or trying to maintain their existing relationships in the face of new challenges caused by the pandemic.
We first featured Velvet’s work back in 2020 when we did a pre-screening of Vida Mia as part of the Chelsea Film Festival 2020. Vida Mia was a collaboration of young female filmmakers Mireya Rios, Melissa Espinosa, and Velvet Datsopoulou. This month, as part of our Emerging Filmmaker interview series, we were thrilled to sit down with her again to catch up on her new project.
I’m sitting here now with Velvet Datsopoulou, co-producer of the film. Can you start by introducing yourself and telling us a little bit about why you got involved in this project?
I always had an interest in documentary projects examining human relationships, and previously worked on a documentary called “36 Questions That Lead to Love,” which was a story adapted from a New York Times article. That interest took a new form in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, with all of the restrictions placed on our lives, which really seemed like a whole new paradigm. In addition to major socio-economic and healthcare issues that we have had to face collectively, I was also interested in observing the “micro” impact of COVID-19 on our basic human relationships, and specifically on our romantic lives. So I started researching it, talking to New Yorkers navigating the challenges in their love lives, and found it has such wide-ranging implications that I thought it was a worthy subject.
So I want to learn more about making this film, finding these key subjects, and why you focused on New York as the location.
I always considered New York to be a fertile ground to find idiosyncratic human stories, as well as stories that represent humankind as a whole. I also happen to live here, so it made sense to focus on this city to find my subjects. I was very lucky, not only because I found subjects who were willing to share their personal stories and open up about their romantic lives with me, but also I came across incredible narratives and gained so many new insights about human relationships as part of these interviews.
Can you tell us about the type of people you interviewed, and how did they open their love lives to you in this way? What types of relationships have you examined in this project?
First of all, I interviewed singles who were adapting to new ways of searching for prospective partners when physical contact is severely restricted. No bars, no restaurants, no social gatherings to meet people… While the interest in online dating spiked initially, there were also challenges in turning that virtual contact into real-world interaction. So there were massive psychological effects caused by this disruption. I also talked to couples who were previously dating who suddenly found themselves living in the same home. In some cases, the pandemic accelerated the pace of relationships and reinforced affinity in a positive way. Lastly, the project highlighted challenges experienced by married couples who had to adapt to living under the same roof in a completely different way, with more contact and proximity than they perhaps desired, and leaving little room for privacy and personal space.
How was the production process during the pandemic? Have you faced any particular challenges?
It is still ongoing. You know, when you are making something independent you are wearing multiple hats. You have to direct and produce and write, you also have to be a fundraiser, you have to know the business of it. The good news is this is a non-profit project that doesn’t have commercial aspirations. I simply wanted to highlight human stories in the form of short interviews, so the budget and staffing that was required were minimal. At the end of the day, I wanted to shed some light on our personal lives and find some hope in the hardest days of the pandemic, by bringing love and romance into the spotlight.
Sounds like a very interesting and inspiring project. We look forward to seeing it next year.
Thank you. We plan to release it on YouTube initially. Stay tuned!