Getting romantic dramas made in today’s cinematic landscape is becoming more and more challenging, yet veteran director Andy Fickman (“She’s the Man,” “The Game Plan,” “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2,”), who is currently in production on the buzzy indie “One True Loves,” remains cheerful and optimistic about the genre. “In general, and pretty much short of being a tentpole, it’s very hard to get things made. People aren’t making romantic dramedies that much anymore, but at the same time, there’s a real need for content because of the streaming outlets,” says Fickman, whose energy level remains high even after shooting an all-nighter. Highland Film Group is representing international rights to “One True Loves,” and is co-financing the picture alongside Blue Rider’s Walter Josten. Highland Film Group’s domestic arm, the Avenue, is distributing domestically.
Starring the red-hot Simu Liu, who currently stars in Marvel’s box office smash “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” the film also headlines Emmy and Tony-nominated Phillipa Soo (“Hamilton”) and Luke Bracey (Netflix’s “Holidate”) (both pictured above with Fickman), and is the screen adaption of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s best-selling novel of the same name.
“It of course helps when you have a very popular IP as your starting point, and it’s a unique yet universal story about love,” says Fickman.
The plot centers on high school sweethearts Emma (Soo) and Jesse (Bracey) as they leave their small town in order to travel the world together as a young couple. But tragedy strikes when Jesse disappears in a helicopter crash over the Pacific Ocean on their anniversary. Four years pass, and Emma has found happiness once again, running her parents’ bookshop and is newly engaged to her childhood best friend, Sam (Liu). But everything changes in an instant when it turns out that Jesse is alive, which forces Emma to make decisions she never expected to make.
Fickman’s attraction to the material was immediate. “I flipped out for the book, so I met with the author as it was such an intriguing premise. It revolved around potent themes of loss and heartbreak, and it asked a tough question: Can you love again after your first love? I wondered what it might be like as a movie,” he says. While Fickman was working in London’s West End directing “Heathers: The Musical,” the project gained momentum. “You feel so blessed when you assemble a great cast, and that’s what happened with ‘One True Loves,’” says Fickman, who adds that “color blind casting” and creating a “family atmosphere” was very much on his agenda. “We knew that Simu was going to explode with ‘Shang-Chi,’ but I was such a fan of his from ‘Kim’s Convenience,’ as I’d seen every episode,” says Fickman, who credits casting director Sarah Finn as being instrumental to the creative process for “One True Loves.” “She’s one of the best casting directors in the world, and we’d worked together on ‘She’s the Man,’ and her instincts are always spot-on for each role.”
Highland Film Group has sold the rights to “One True Loves” to key international territories, including SquareOne Entertainment, which is also executive producing alongside Highland Film Group, for all German-speaking territories. The film is produced by Fickman, Volition Media Partners’ Adam Beasley and Michael Jefferson (“Supercell,” “The Yacht”), Willie Kutner (“Sundown,” “Rebel Highway”), Betsy Sullenger (“The Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse”) and Sarah Finn (“Crash,” “WandaVision”).
“We got very lucky with our producers, and working with the team at Volition on this film served as the start to a great relationship, which also led to working with Highland Film Group,” says Fickman.