About this project
Sex and love addicts are addicted to things that they mistake for love, like dependency, longing, lust, physical attraction, sexual attraction, neediness, pity, rescuing, and being saved.
My entire life, I’ve either been longing for this thing that I thought I wanted, or aggressively pushing it away whenever I did get it. It was a pattern of never being happy and never feeling lovable, in any situation I put myself in, because I didn’t love myself. And because I didn’t love myself, I hurt myself and others to get anything that came close to “love.” I used people, I got used, I idealized people and then resented them when they didn’t fulfill my expectations. It was never enough, and I used that to validate the story that I am broken and unlovable.
In 2011, my life was a mess, and a friend suggested I try a 12-step program for sex and love addiction. I tried only three meetings and hated it. I ordered a bunch of books on love addiction off Amazon and thought maybe it would just go away. In 2014, after truly thinking I had found “The One” (again!) I was the most heartbroken and hopeless I’d ever felt in my life, I almost killed myself, and I came crawling back to the program on my hands and knees. It was the most difficult, painful, necessary, and important thing I’ve ever done in my life. And it’s the best thing – I have been abstinent for almost two years, I'm practicing a healthy dating plan, I sponsor others, share my story, and help as many people as I can. And today, I am undoubtedly the happiest and healthiest I’ve ever felt in my life.
Why am I making UNLOVABLE?
It's important to me to bring awareness to sex and love addiction, and to help people feel less alone. With comedy, music, and a whole lot of heart, I want to make a feature film that shows the world the power of true intimacy and human connection.
Charlene deGuzman is a writer and actress who garnered attention from tweeting her self-deprecating thoughts as @charstarlene and posting her short films on YouTube. She's gained over 35K followers, including Mark Duplass of The Duplass Brothers. Charlene sent Mark a pilot of a comedy she had written about her experiences with sex and love addiction. Mark immediately wrote her back and told her that he wanted to meet ASAP - they would make a movie together based on Charlene's experiences, it would star the two of them, and they would get to play music. Though Mark could no longer be in the film due to his schedule, he set her up with Jen Roskind, his producer on HBO's ANIMALS, and with her, Charlene met writer Sarah Adina Smith, and eventually, director Suzi Yoonessi.
What People Are Saying About Charlene
"There is no one like Charlene. She has a lot of pain, but she knows how to dig into it and find comedy and hope. She is very inspiring to me in this way." - Mark Duplass
"I want you - all of the gatekeepers - to become fans. I want you to become true enthusiasts, like me. I want you to be as excited as I was when I first saw Maria Bamford's standup, or I attended the Paul F. Tompkins show, or read... charstarlene on Twitter." - Patton Oswalt, Keynote Speech, Just For Laughs
"Consistently hilarious and original..." - Seth MacFarlane
"Talking and writing about topics other people might shy away from is exactly what has made deGuzman thrive." - FLOOD Magazine, "Breaking"
"Whether it’s a tweet, a blog post, a pilot, or a short film, deGuzman knows her strength is in using her voice to connect with her audience." - Backstage Magazine, "Charlene deGuzman Leads the Second Annual Backstage 30"
What's UNLOVABLE about?
It’s so hard to know how to be an adult human.
It’s particularly hard for JOY, a twenty-something lost soul with a tiny body and a giant heart. She’s convinced herself that her high-school sweetheart is “The One” and funneled all her energy into maintaining that lie. But Joy's insecurities always get the best of her.
When she gets caught having sex in the bathroom of a Polish restaurant with a stranger twice her age, her boyfriend ends the relationship once and for all, sending her spiraling. It’s not until she wakes up naked in the middle of a bachelor party, loses her job, and vomits in a rose bush, that Joy finally realizes she has a problem and seeks help for sex and love addiction.
At her first 12-step meeting for sex and love addiction, she meets MADDIE, a powerful, grounded force who becomes Joy’s sponsor. After Joy gets kicked out of her apartment, Maddie allows her to stay at her grandmother’s guesthouse if she agrees to go 30 days away from her ex, boys, sex, and romance.
On her first night at the guesthouse, Joy spots Maddie’s clinically awkward brother JIM head-banging as he waters the lawn, wearing a headlamp. But she’s determined to follow Maddie’s rules and stays away.
Joy struggles to get sober, but nothing comes easy. Her fear of abandonment at a 10, and the high of sexual validation no longer numbing her pain, she’s in physical and emotional turmoil. Maddie suggests Joy find something to live for. A hobby. Anything. After a few sad attempts at painting, knitting, cooking, and music video choreography, Joy discovers a drum kit in the garage, and starts to play.
But nobody touches Jim’s drums. He freaks out and demands Joy leave. So it’s a surprise to Joy when, the next morning, there’s a pair of drumsticks sitting at her door.
Jim on guitar and Joy on drums, their first jam blossoms into daily sessions. As they create their own music together, a secret friendship develops, despite their fears, flaws, and Joy’s rules of sobriety. Joy teaches Jim to take risks with his music and his heart, and Jim shows Joy that she can have a healthy adult relationship with a man as a friend. A real friend.
UNLOVABLE is about the heart’s fundamental need for love, about self-respect, and the true value of human connection.
Charlene deGuzman, writer/actor (I FORGOT MY PHONE)
Suzi Yoonessi, director (DEAR LEMON LIMA, OLIVE AND MOCHA)
Jen Roskind, producer (HBO’s ANIMALS, STEPHANIE DAILEY)
Sarah Adina Smith, writer (BUSTERS MAL HEART, THE MIDNIGHT SWIM)
Mark Duplass, story by (HBO’s TOGETHERNESS, CYRUS)
Louise Shore, line producer (HOLIDAYS)
Nina Ameri, production legal
I FORGOT MY PHONE
Written by/starring Charlene deGuzman. Directed by Miles Crawford. Over 49 million views. Featured on The Today Show, Good Morning America, Fox News, The New York Times, NPR, USA Today, Gawker, The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, Vice, and more.
Written by/starring Charlene deGuzman. Directed by/starring Miles Crawford. Featured at LACMA (The Los Angeles County Museum of Art).
THE CHEMISTRY OF LOVE
Written by/starring Charlene deGuzman. Directed by Suzi Yoonessi. 1.9 million views. Featured at The Hammer Museum.
More on Charlene deGuzman: www.charstarlene.com
More on Suzi Yoonessi: www.suziyoonessi.com
Risks and challenges
It's hard to make a movie, you guys! Making a movie independently means finding all of the funds ourselves and hustling our butts off! There's a lot of unpredictability but in the end, WE JUST WANNA GIVE YOU A BEAUTIFUL, POWERFUL, IMPORTANT FILM WITH A WHOLE LOTTA HEART!
We will be doing our best to get your rewards out as soon as possible! But note that the movie will only be available once it has premiered at a festival and secured distribution. We’re aiming to have it by August 2017, but movie releases are so unpredictable. Other rewards we will get to you once production is complete.
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