Milk and Honey Magazine interview with director of the film The Dating Project!

The Dating Project

Paige Weslaski

Half of America is single. People are frustrated in love, but does anyone really know how to connect in today’s virtual world?

The Dating Project attempts to answer that question. The film, directed by the (incredibly) talented Jonathan Cipiti, follows five single people, ages 18-40, as they search for authentic and meaningful relationships. There is no script. There are no actors. These are real people trying to find love and happiness in an age of swiping left or right.

Milk & Honey was lucky enough to chat with Jon about the film, in theaters everywhere Tuesday, April 17th!

Tell us about The Dating Project!

The Dating Project is a feature documentary that looks at the culture of Dating today. So many people seem to be unsatisfied with the dating landscape so we wanted to take a look at why. We follow 5 subjects: 2 college students at Boston College, a woman in her 20’s in Chicago, a woman in her 30’s in New York City and a man in his 40’s in Santa Monica. In addition to our subjects, we interviewed “change-makers” or experts in fields related to dating and relationships.

Why did you feel this was an important message for today's world?

We felt this message was important because we found that people are either really frustrated with the dating culture, or don’t even know how to date. So we really wanted to shine a light on the topic and start some important conversations that can often be difficult to have. What we found is that when we started to ask these questions EVERYONE wanted to talk about it. It was as if people just needed an invitation to the conversation, and once it was started it never stopped. I really believe most people are searching for genuine connection and belonging, and in today’s culture it can be extremely hard to find that, especially in the world of dating where everyone is just supposed to know what’s going on.

Who should see this movie?

This movie is for everyone. A goal of ours was to cover a wide range of ages, both men and women from across the country so that the conversation wouldn’t be coming from just one point of view, and I think what we ended up with was a pretty expansive dialogue. This film applies extremely well to people in their 20’s and 30’s, but I think it’s really important for people just entering college, high school students etc. This film has also gotten really interesting reactions from parents as well. Most parents we have shown this film to had no idea that things are the way they are and I think it has prompted a lot of them to have these important conversations with their kids before someone else does. This film definitely starts a conversation.

Milk and Honey Magazine interview with director of the film The Dating Project!

What was your favorite part about filming?

My favorite part about filming was going on the journey with the subjects. We followed them for quite a while and it was amazing to see what happened as they considered these questions. Relationships are extremely important but we rarely take the time to examine them in our own lives, to really dig deep and ask ourselves the tough questions. This whole process was a deep dive into topics that can often be uncomfortable but that can lead to a lot of growth.

Did making the movie change you at all?

Oh absolutely… Making this film changed so much about me, both in my relationships but also just in my everyday interactions. We set out to make a film about dating, but what we started to discover is that this topic is so much bigger than dating, that we need to learn how to not only date, but how to treat our friends and family, how to view ourselves and realize the value of self worth and integrity. During the filming of The Dating Project, we asked a lot of really tough questions to people and then inevitably we had to answer them for ourselves too. It was a very challenging but beautiful process.

How would you recommend people date in today's society?

That’s a really big question, but I think it boils down to a few simple things. First, I would encourage people to take the pressure off of dating. What I mean by that is that dating is really just getting to know someone, in our culture it has turned into something so much more. The “hook-up” culture has kind of hijacked dating and has left people feeling confused, scared and unhappy.

An expert in our film, Professor Kerry Cronin, challenges her students to go on what she calls a “Level one date” which has to be asked in person, it has to be under $10 (cup of coffee, ice cream etc.) during the day time, under 90 minutes, no drugs or alcohol and no physical interaction.It’s essentially just getting to know someone while at the same time getting to know yourself. All of her students were terrified to do this at first but once they did it they absolutely love it.

It re-contextualizes vulnerability for them, it shows them they are worth someone else’s 90 minutes and I think most importantly if the person says no it’s not a big deal. It removes so much of the pressure people are feeling from things like the hook-up culture. I think if more people dated like this we would not only see more successful relationships but we would also see a huge rise in self-confidence as well as true vulnerability.

Lastly - do you have a favorite Bible verse?

There are several Bible verses that are significant to me, but one that has stood out along this journey is Phillipians 1:6 “being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” I think this verse is so powerful because if we truly believe that God began a good work in us it allows us to remember that He will see it to completion. I think that relates to our relationships, our work, our family, everything. So many people spend so much time worrying about the right relationship, or the right job and I think that it’s important to think about those things, but I think it’s more important to remember who is behind those things.