Romance is the behemoth of the publishing industry; it outsells mystery, sci-fi, and fantasy combined. Yet no filmmaker has ever taken an honest look at the amazing global community that romance writers and readers have built.
As a documentary filmmaker, I want to bring the lives and work of compelling women to the screen, because any industry dominated by women is typically dismissed as trivial and “merely domestic.” My previous films -- A Midwife’s Tale and Tupperware! – are very different from one another, but they were both shaped by my desire to look honestly at communities of women who haven’t been taken seriously (but should be), who deserve to be heard without being mocked.
I knew very little about the romance community when I decided to make this film. But the further I got into this subject, the more convinced I became that the romance community is not only an interesting sisterhood including more than 100 million women around the globe, but also a phenomenon to learn from.
No filmmaker has ever had the access we had. We were allowed to film behind-the-scenes strategy and editorial meetings at publishing houses; we were included in the private lives of our main characters; we captured public and private moments at conferences where thousands of romance readers and romance writers are gathered; we were invited to shoot on trips with authors and their fans in South Carolina, Alaska, and Texas; we were allowed to film both high-end and low-budget romance cover shoots; and we were granted an unusually intimate interview with superstar Nora Roberts.
Love Between the Covers is one part of a larger effort called the Popular Romance Project that I dreamt up five years ago. To pull off this huge project, I found fabulous partners: The Library of Congress Center for the Book, the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, and the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance (IASPR). They’ve all been a pleasure to work with!
The Popular Romance Project explores the fascinating, often contradictory origins and influences of popular romance as told in novels, films, comics, advice books, songs, and internet fan fiction, taking a global perspective—while looking back across time as far as the ancient Greeks.
In addition to the film the Popular Romance Project includes:
• PopularRomanceProject.org – the interactive, content-rich website launched in 2011 by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media. The site allows its users to see romance novels in a broad context across time and place—with a huge archive of Love Between the Covers interview excerpts, teaching resources, and blogs by romance authors, scholars and industry insiders.
• What Is Love? Romance Fiction in the Digital Age – an international, multimedia conference of scholars, writers, and readers, hosted by The Library of Congress Center for the Book and made possible through the generous support of lead sponsor Harlequin. The conference was held on February 11, 2015 at the Library of Congress and was a great success!
Our advisory board and colleagues at IASPR have been there to help us every step of the way. IASPR’s current president, Pamela Regis, was the co-chair of the conference at the Library of Congress.
Many institutions and individuals have supported this project: the National Endowment for the Humanities, Mass Humanities, the Nora Roberts Foundation, Romance Writers of America, Amazon.com, Harlequin Enterprises, the Tavris Fund at Brandeis University, and our amazing supporters at Kickstarter.
With the help of the romance community, our funders, our advisors, and our friends – and with years of hard work behind us -- we can now proudly say that Love Between the Covers is finished.