VENICE – Entering their Venice press conference to cheers from a rump of fans, Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult talked about love, film choices and director Drake Doremus’ direction of actors in Venice competition player “Equals.”

Some critics at Venice characterized “Equals” as a  date movie for the artier inclined teen crowd; one of the film’s attractions is the easy intimacy shown between Stewart and Hoult’s characters as they connect with their feelings and each other in a futuristic world that has eradicated emotions.

Stewart and Hoult play Switched On Syndrome sufferers who begin to have feelings, then fall for each other.

“Equals” is “basically about two kids who love each other when they’re not supposed to,” Stewart said. “One thing we talked about endlessly was: Do we still exist if love does’t exist, could we live without it. Probably not. If you don’t have passions, maybe not for another person, but passion, curiosity: That’s what keeps us going,”

How did the actors achieve a sense of intimacy in their love scenes? Stewart said she and Hoult would sit in front of each other for an hour saying “Hello.”

Hoult said that Doremus and his regular cinematographer John Gulesarian shot such long takes that he wasn’t always certain what the camera was focusing on. Doremus concurred: “When you have beautiful faces, you want to point the camera to them as much as possible. John was the only guy in there moving the camera around. There was no ‘Let’s get this shot, or that shot.’ It was letting the camera take us where it needed to go.”

“Equals” is a step-up in scale for Doremus, he said, and a step-down for Stewart and Hoult in budgetary terms, a journalist pointed out.

For Stewart, that was by-the-by: “I’m invested in all the projects. I don’t do the ‘one for them, one for me’ thing. If you step outside yourself and start tactically maneuvering your career… it just doesn’t make sense whatsoever. What we do requires … requires your heart to be so in it that every time I agree to do a movie I’m shocked and terrified.”