Singles – Vogue Magazine

Rock Auteur

With his new comedy, Singles, former boy-wonder Cameron Crowe examines postcollege romance amid Seattle’s thriving music scene.

Cameron Crowe’s office at the Warner Hollywood lot could easily be mistaken for the exuberantly unkempt digs of a teenage rock ‘n’ roll fan. A cheap electric guitar sits in a place of honor near the wide desk; there’s a dry-erase board covered with the manic scrawl of what could be song lyrics under the title “The Theory of Eternal Dating.” Fanzines cover every horizontal surface, and hanging near the couch is a reverently framed poster of the Seattle hard rockers Pearl Jam. Scattered across the mammoth stereo/video system is a connoisseur’s CD collection, including an extremely rare Nirvana bootleg.

Dressed in a blue T-shirt and loose-fitting jeans, his medium-length brown hair framing his boyish, animated face, Crowe readily acknowledges his fan status, but he’s quick to note that all these mementos and knickknacks are also work-related. They’re crucial to the thirty-five-year-old director’s latest project, Singles, a study of twenty-something dating rituals in Seattle. Some of the CDs will yield sound-track fodder; Pearl Jam gave him the poster in gratitude for casting them as Matt Dillon’s backup band in the film; and “The Theory of Eternal Dating” board will serve as a title card for one of Singles’ interconnected vignettes.

Music served as an inspiration in the writing of Singles; Crowe, author of Fast Times at Ridgemont High and writer/director of Say Anything, arranged the vignettes record-album style. “I wanted to do a nonlinear kind of story that wasn’t blackouts,” he says.

The segments track the romantic interplay of a group of post-adolescents living in an apartment building in Seattle’s Capitol Hill. “It’s the halfway house between college and getting your own place,” explains Crowe. “It’s about things I felt in my twenties. When you were in school, you always knew you were going to see friends the next day. This is about the first whiff of freedom when you’re out in the world and have to connect with people, and someone is with you because they choose to be.”

But he hopes the story transcends its characters’ age group. “You think to yourself, ‘When I’m sixty, I’ll be at some advanced emotional place,’ but fuck, no. My Mom just got remarried, and she’s like a little girl around this guy; she’s jazzed. This stuff exists whenever you need to make a connection. The movie is just about characters looking for that, who happen to be in their twenties.”

Singles’ core group of characters include Dillon as a less-than-successful rocker, Bridget Fonda’s underachieving espresso server, and Campbell Scott and Kyra Sedgwick as a couple bordering on commitment. In bite-size cinematic increments, the quartet wrestles with love, honesty, garage-door openers, pregnancy tests, and breast implants; the moments begin to add up.

“I liked the idea of disconnected single people forming their own loose family,” Crowe says. “It’s not like they sit down and say, ‘Tuesday I’m going to do your laundry for you, and if you don’t come home I’ll feed your dog.’ It’s an unspoken thing that comes from the quiet moments when no one else is around and bonds are formed in small ways. I just love those moments.” He pauses. “I guess my real pivotal coming-of-age thing was a journalist so…I’ve always loved to capture the moment.

“I can look back on all the movies I’ve written, and there’s always that point where the studio executives say, ‘Well, it is what it is, it’s a story about real people.’ And they’re always so fucking disappointed about it. Until it comes out, and then people say, ‘Wow! It’s about real people!'”

Courtesy of Vogue – Dario Scardapane – September, 1992