From Web to Screen: Why Stop Now?
Laurie K. Schenden
We Have to Stop Now is one of the biggest surprises on the film festival circuit this year, mainly because it wasn’t even meant to be a film.
“It’s not about sex, it’s not about dildo jokes, it’s about people … about when we’re in a relationship,” says Cathy DeBuono, one of the stars and an executive producer.
Originally shot as a web series, the episodes were “smooshed together” to appear as if it was meant to be a film, according to actor-comedian Suzanne Westenhoefer, who plays a therapist in the film. “If you can’t tell the difference, then I never said this,” she quips.
I got the Stop Now scoop from Westenhoefer, DeBuono and the film’s other star/executive producer, Jill Bennett, who gathered in West Hollywood to celebrate their good fortune. DeBuono (Out at the Wedding) and Stewart (In Her Line of Fire) are one sizzling real-life couple, who started dating after they starred in And Then Came Lola (available from Wolfe Video). The couple came up with the idea for the web series and enlisted the help of writer Ann Noble (who also has a small but spazzy-funny part in the film).
We Have to Stop Now—which is what the therapist says to end each session—grabbed the attention of Wolfe Video, which called to say that it wanted to distribute the web-isodes on DVD, so could they splice them into a full-length film?
“We only had a budget of $2,500, so what we’re showing is our $2,500 web series,” says Bennett as a disclaimer, because the project was always meant for the Internet, not the big screen.
The things that I find intriguing are that DeBuono is actually a licensed therapist (who knew?) and that Noble, who’s also a personal friend of the couple’s, swapped the actors’ personalities in the script.
“In the series, Kit [Bennett] is much more impulsive and emotional and Dyna [DeBuono] is much more analytical, everything is thought out,” says Bennett. “And in real life Cathy is much more the heart girl and I’m much more the head girl.”
“We’ll get scripts,” adds DeBuono, “and we’ll notice that my character will have lines that I’ve heard Jill say in real life and vice versa … so we’d be playing opposite our comfort zone. That’s been really fun and really, really interesting.”
The project evolved out of the simple desire to tell their stories as gay women the way they wanted to tell them, in a way that they believed other lesbians would appreciate.
While it was initially a modest undertaking, “we love this show,” says Bennett. “We love acting, we care about this, it’s not just a job, it means something to us. So it has definitely brought us closer.”
As its popularity builds, the second season is already on the Web. “It got even more intense,” says Bennett with a laugh. “Kit and Dyna become famous, so they’re dealing with the lesbian fame of sorts [as Stewart and DeBuono are in real life]. Ann drew upon our own real experiences and it’s in the show.”
“Everyone’s always saying ‘do things from the heart’ and we always get too scared to do that because we want to please somebody else,” says DeBuono. “We never imagined a Web series playing in film festivals or being distributed on DVD.”
The film version of We Have to Stop Now is available on DVD through Wolfe Video. For the subscription-based season two, go to WeHaveToStopNow.tv.
“It’s intelligent and it’s funny,” adds DeBuono, “and I think people really respond to that.”
Blogger Bio: For more than a decade Laurie Schenden has covered the entertainment industry for Curve, the Los Angeles Times and Germany's Spotlight magazine. Her cover stories for Curve magazine have included Sharon Stone, Melissa Etheridge, and the cast of The L Word. She’s also an award winning documentary filmmaker and one of the co-creators of the Laughing Matters film series, seen on Logo