It's no secret that the origins of 'Amy' reside in my relationship with Joey. Granted, she's not gay, and I've never fallen in love with a lesbian, but the movie did grow out of my temporary inability to deal with Joey's past (not that it was anything like Alyssa's; I don't want ya'll running around thinking Joey's nickname was 'Finger Cuffs' or anything).
When we first started dating, it became very apparent just how different we were from one another. They say opposites attract; but they don't say anything about opposites staying together after said attraction (they usually stink, in my opinion... whoever they may be). I was a guy from Highlands, New Jersey, content to live and die in the same twenty mile radius I'd spent almost all of my life in to that point. She was from North Little Rock, Arkansas, but you wouldn't know it. Joey'd done some traveling, living in Australia, Bali, New Orleans, San Diego, and then settling in Los Angeles. I like my gatherings small and intimate; Joey likes her's huge, loud, and loaded with spirits of many kinds. But these were nothing compared to the differences in our sexual history.
Always a thorny issue in any romantic relationship I've ever been in, a partner's sexual past can ruin an otherwise great relationship. And it's never something as easy as the possible disease angle that gets me (in all honesty, I never even consider it). No, my insecurities stem from the fear of having to measure up to somebody... or a lot of somebodies. I spent the better part of my romantic career being the ex-boyfriend that someone couldn't get out of their system; I never wanted to be on that rotten other end (as the guy who had to deal with the memory of someone else's ex-boyfriend). I was used to being the guy who'd done it all, and then some; the ultra-liberal one (well, there are some things even I haven't done... considered them, but haven't done). And then there are all those horrible, ingrained mistruths we're brought up to believe about men and sex (we're dominant, we should go to bed with whores but wake up with virgins... those things that we're not necessarily taught , but still become part of our consciousness, regardless). When it came to sex, I had to be the teacher, or else problems arose.
If you were to list the type of person I'd never - in theory - be able to deal with in a relationship, you'd basically be drafting Joey. And after the initial dating bliss subsided, this dark sentiment began to sink in.
It took some time to work through, but we eventually did it (never underestimate the strangle-hold that a lifetime of a singular point of view can have on you; we still work through residual negativity of that crap to this day). But the most effective therapy, I think, was writing, shooting, and now showing 'Chasing Amy'.
The character of Holden is the closest to me I've ever written (casting Ben was aesthetically wishful thinking perhaps), and Alyssa is actually my voice of reason that I'd never listen to (I knew what I was doing/feeling was immature, but you just can't fight city hall, sometimes). Banky bares the marks of my feelings about allegiance (oh, I hated the kind of friends who'd start dating someone and suddenly disappeared - balance, I'd say; constant sex, they'd say), while Hooper voices my thoughts about the politics of the gay community (particularly in the record store scene). The Jay and Silent Bob scene is always a little eerie to watch, in that it's very much me having a conversation with my creations (a'la Grant Morrison's brilliant 'Animal Man' issue where Buddy met his creator). This flick, more than the other two, is me on a slab, laid out for the world to see.
And believe me - that's scary.
But aside from that stuff, there are the laughs. I find this flick funnier than 'Clerks' or 'Mallrats'. The humor, while often racey, is well-developed (and as much as I love 'Clerks', I mean, come on - that fucking-the-dead-guy bit was so easy). I was proud of the fact that, even though we're dealing with a pair of friends again, there is no 'straight man' per se' (although using that term in this flick can be dicey) - Ben and Jason bounce off one another even- ly. And the 'Jaws' scene to me represents everything that is great about independent film (because there was a version of this scene in 'Rats', and the studio made me take it out).
I love this flick to death. This will always be closest to my heart for reasons obvious and not-so-obvious. And it makes a hell of a palate-cleanser for 'Dogma'. I grew up making this movie, both in craft and in general. I hope it gets you somewhere... preferably in the heart.