Saturday, June 23, 2018

Movie Minute: The Dating Project

Singles of all ages wonder why it’s so hard to meet, date and marry today. In fact, 50 percent of America is single and fewer people are committing to marriage, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014.  Dating has been replaced by “hooking up” and “hanging out,” making the traditional days of “courtship” obsolete.  Or, is it?

THE DATING PROJECT, the new documentary from Paulist Productions, Mpower Pictures and Family Theater Productions, has been featured in The Washington Post,Boston Globe and Chicago Tribune as well as on CNN and FOX NEWS, and will now be available on DVD and Digital Download from Pure Flix.  The film will be released into the general consumer market by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

A few years ago, Boston College professor Kerry Cronin noticed this decreased dating trend among her undergrad students.  “And I thought, ‘Well, this is crazy.’ So I started asking students to go on what I refer to as ‘traditional dates’ as part of an extra-credit assignment.” However, the act of going on a date was more complicated than she thought. A combination of the prevalent “hook up” culture, as well as the preferred method of social interaction (texting), had all but obliterated skills of basic social interaction.

THE DATING PROJECT follows Professor Cronin and five modern-day singles (ages 20 – 40) in their own quest to find authentic love and meaningful relationships. By engaging in Cronin’s dating philosophy, her mentees find more fulfilling and lasting relationships. 

I had a chance to interview Catherine Fowler Sample, the writer/producer of “The Dating Project,” to learn more. 

Why did you decide to do this project?

I decided to create The Dating Project because I realized there is a "dating deficit" in our culture. A deficit is when there’s not enough of something, and there's definitely not enough dating happening right now! I’ve talked with hundreds of people about dating over the last four years and most people can’t remember the last time they went on what could be considered a date. This fits the narrative of our day because for the first time in history over 50% of people in America are single. People want romance, but are struggling to find that spark amidst the hook up culture. This reality of the dating deficit hit me when I was at a birthday party in Santa Monica, California. I was among a dozen girls in attendance. At one point during the evening I looked around and realized every woman there was single. It was surprising because each girl was confident, beautiful inside and out, and had an impressive professional resume. So why couldn't these single ladies find a good date? This was a catalyst moment of sorts for me. I wanted to get to the heart of what was going on with modern dating, and so my producing partner and I set out to make The Dating Project.
Why can it be helpful for people to see other dating journeys?
We follow five single people in The Dating Project to explore dating in the age of texting, social media, hanging out and hooking up. Each person (and by the way, they're all real people who are not actors!) offers a different perspective on the challenges of finding modern romance. There are two college students, who are dealing with hook up culture; a 20something woman who had been single for five years; a 30something woman who prioritized career over relationships; and a 40something man who felt commitment limited him. So many people who saw The Dating Project tell me that they see their own dating story in the movie! It is powerful to see other peoples' dating journeys for this very reason. It helps us to see that we are not alone in the complexities of seeking and finding love, and encourages people to hold onto their self-respect.

What was the biggest surprise you discovered working on this project?
When setting out to film The Dating Project, I thought that each person we followed would have a very different story because they were from such diverse backgrounds and age groups. But to my surprise, I discovered each of their struggles were very similar. To me this showed how pervasive hook up culture is and how deeply it is affecting everyone. But it also gave me hope - if the problem is so widespread, why can't the solution be?

What do you hope people will get out of the film?
I hope people feel empowered after seeing The Dating Project. Empowered to have hope, despite hurt caused by hook up culture. Empowered to start the conversation with family and friends about reviving casual dating. Empowered to step outside the dominant social script of hook up culture and make a difference by committing to #DateDifferently - which is to date with dignity. Let's bring back the date!

About Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment (UPHE - is a unit of Universal Pictures, a division of Universal Studios. Universal Studios is a part of NBCUniversal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. NBCUniversal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment television networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, world-renowned theme parks, and a suite of leading Internet- based businesses. NBCUniversal is a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation.
About Pure Flix 
Founded in 2005, and led by partners Michael Scott, David A.R. White, Elizabeth Travis, Alysoun Wolfe, and Jim Ameduri, Pure Flix is the leading independent faith and family studio in the world. Pure Flix’s recent releases include: God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness, SamsonThe Case for Christ, God’s Not Dead 2, God’s Not Dead, Do You Believe?, Woodlawn, A Question of Faith, and Same Kind of Different as Me. With offices in Los Angeles and Scottsdale, Pure Flix has produced, acquired, marketed, and distributed over 100 faith and family-friendly films. Aligned with their vision to influence the global culture for Christ through media, Pure Flix is the industry leader in creating high-quality inspirational feature film content.  The studio’s official website is  The company also features a leading streaming video on demand service, with thousands of movies, originals, TV shows and more emphasizing faith, family and fun. For more information, go to
About Paulist Production
Paulist Productions was founded over 50 years ago to create thought provoking entertainment that explores the human condition, and has produced award-winning documentaries, feature films, television, and TV movies addressing pressing social issues and important moral questions. Paulist has provided programming for Paramount, Warner Bros., CBS, ABC, A&E, the History Channel, Hallmark Hall of Fame, and UPtv. In a time of rapid change and declining options for family viewing, Paulist is dedicated to developing positive programming with meaningful content. The HUMANITAS Prize, one of screenwriting's most prestigious awards, was founded by Paulist Productions.
About Mpower Pictures
Mpower Pictures is a film production company dedicated to “empowering” both the artist and the audience by telling stories that are compelling, bold, and uncompromising. Steve McEveety, CEO (The Passion of the Christ, Braveheart), John Shepherd (Bobby JonesThe Ultimate Gift), Todd Burns and David Segel launched Mpower in 2007 to make movies that profoundly impact culture, while inspiring and entertaining audiences. The company was awarded Heartland Film Festival's "Truly Moving Picture" award for its feature films Snowmen and The Stoning of Soraya M.
About Family Theater Productions
Family Theater Productions tells stories that inspire, entertain and inform.  Founded in 1947 by Father Patrick Peyton, C.S.C., and headquartered on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, Family Theater Productions is an award-winning producer of family-suitable and faith-based media for radio, film, television and digital media. The Head of Production is Father David Guffey, C.S.C.

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