At Midnight Director Jonah Feingold Brings A Fairytale Vibe To His New Rom-Com [Exclusive Interview]

This is going to be fun. I’m a huge /Film fan. This is exciting.

Oh, that’s wonderful to hear! From the opening credit graphics to the end of the film, this feels like a very fairytale sort of film, almost a throwback to 1930s, ’40s rom-coms. Was that in the story from the beginning?

That was not in the script from the beginning. That was my director’s pitch. The first draft of the movie was written by Giovanni Porta, who’s incredible, and the second draft by Maria Hinojos, who actually plays the director within the movie. And the films that I grew up loving, Billy Wilder, Nora Ephron, old Disney “Cinderella,” “Lady and the Tramp,” all this kind of stuff is the reason that I make movies. And it’s the style that I’m trying to embrace. So when I pitched in the film, my approach was old-school Hollywood. I want us to watch a 45-second opening title sequence that I got Paramount to agree to let me do, which, by the way, is hand-drawn by a Disney illustrator named Asia Ellington, who’s incredible. But she is a Disney illustrator. She’s done these things professionally. We were lucky enough to get her on board. And we used “Cinderella” as a reference. We used “Lady and the Tramp.” We used “Snow White.” That was the intent.

Oh, that’s awesome. And it totally comes across. One of the things I found so lovely is that so many of the actors get to actually speak Spanish instead of that trope where everyone speaks English. Can you talk about the decision to do that?

Absolutely. Diego Boneta, who’s the star of the film along with Monica, and who’s also a producer, was very adamant. The whole movie exists because he wanted to bring worlds together. He wanted to honor Mexico in a way that he didn’t feel has been honored in the romantic comedy genre. He wanted to show Mexico City in a light that we haven’t seen. It’s not “Narcos.” It’s this magical, wonderful place that he grew up in, that he loves. When he pitched that to me — and he’s seen my first film, “Dating & New York” — he had seen the way I had brought New York to a screen, and he wanted that for this film.

For the Spanish sequences, it was never a [conversation]. My debate to the studio was, take away the subtitles. In “Saving Private Ryan,” I believe Spielberg has a sequence where you don’t see the subtitles because the character wouldn’t know what they’re saying. And I was like, “Every time that Sophie’s learning Spanish, that’s how much we get in the subtitles. She hears certain words.” Ultimately, we couldn’t land on that for technological reasons, like subtitle, closed caption stuff. But that was the vision. So we always wanted to have as much Spanish as possible. Because as you said, there’s nothing worse than a movie where they speak a language they shouldn’t be speaking.

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