The idea of the sugar daddy romancing and supporting young women is as old as the hills. The films of the Depression when money was tight visited it again and again. According to filmmaker Carly Stone, sugar daddies are with us still and her new film goes inside for a peek. Stone’s film The New Romantic stars Jessica Barden as Blake, a university student researching the sugar daddy / baby relationship for her student column. She’s frustrated with the men she meets of her own age, so she decides to dive in. We asked Stone what The New Romantic says about society now.
Jessica Barden in the role of the potential sugar baby looks so young. She has a baby face and small build which highlights the edgy subject matter. Was that part of the plan?
Not really. Jessica is one of those people who look younger than she is in real life, she felt right for the role but subconsciously it was because I can “get” that age. You can look younger than you feel and think you are.
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Many women have at some time dated older men. In your research did you find that these relationships were more exploitative than romantic?
No, I think there was real range during my research. Some of the sugar daddies said explicitly that they wanted companionship and some were more transactional in a sexual way. There was a huge range tailor made to the client. It was so interesting and hard to differentiate in some of these relations.
At one point her beau ignores her spoken wish to go home and says “but I gave you a bracelet.” I don’t think she expected that.
Education is extremely expensive and women have a lot of ambition and are creative problem solvers. As much as you can dress something up as romance, the reality in her case, came through.
How did the storyline develop? Did you know someone or experience it yourself?
I was hired to write it. My producer Kyle Mann had an idea for a female comedy about sugar daddies in university. I executed the premise and had the freedom to take it where I wanted to go and explore in my own personal ideas. I just did it on the internet like a creep; I read testimonials and did research.
Did you try it out?
I wish I had the guts to do that but I’m not a journalist, I’m an introvert with a typewriter!
Is this an authentic depiction of those relationships?
I think when I wrote the climax – the scene between her and Ian at his house but I don’t want to give it away, and I think when I realized that scene needed to be in the film. I realized what the whole film was about. It was exciting. And the moment happened very close to production!
I agree. Jessica was attached early on and right away. First, she was excited for it two years before shooting. Unfortunately we couldn’t say when we’d start, maybe two months, three months, but she remained interested which was great for us.
Do you have a next project?
Yes! It’s about my experience in competitive dance world in Toronto. I have a script and a cast wish list.
Now that you’ve released it into the world how do you step away?
After showing it at the Vancouver Film Festival, I was very excited and nervous, then nothing. No, it doesn’t feel like mine already. When you hand it off it takes on a life of its own.
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