The perils of dating via phone app: Northampton native Aaron Fradkin debuts film ‘Electric Love’

  • Zachary Mooren and Mia Serafino play the lead roles in Aaron Fradkin’s romantic comedy “Electric Love.” Image courtesy Aaron Fradkin

  • Former Northampton resident Aaron Fradkin, at right, directs a scene in “Electric Love.” Image courtesy Aaron Fradkin

  • Aaron Fradkin, who moved to Hollywood in 2010, is the director and co-writer of “Electric Love.” He first picked up a video camera while on a family vacation in California at age 12. Image courtesy Aaron Fradkin

  • Leads Mia Serafino and Zachary Mooren of “Electric Love” try to overcome the bad karma of dating apps to find real love. Image courtesy Aaron Fradkin

  • A scene is filmed from “Electric Love.” Image courtesy Aaron Fradkin

  • Mia Serafino and Zachary Mooren are filmed in a scene from Aaron Fradkin’s “Electric Love.” Image courtesy Aaron Fradkin

For the Bulletin
Published: 3/14/2019 1:20:50 PM

It seems fitting, in a way, that Aaron Fradkin first handled a video camera in California, when he was on vacation at age 12, touring Sequoia National Park and other scenic parts of the Golden State with his family.

The most memorable part of the trip for Fradkin, though, was discovering a VHS camcorder that belonged to some friends his family was visiting.

“I just picked it up and started filming the entire vacation,” said Fradkin, who grew up in Northampton. “I told my parents at the end of the vacation, ‘I want a camera,’ and they said, ‘Absolutely.’ From then on, I essentially filmed every second of every vacation and every boring day of my life.”

Fast foward 18 years, and Fradkin, now a young veteran of Hollywood at age 30, has put his early entrée to filmmaking to good use. Last month, the independent screenwriter and director released his first major feature film, “Electric Love,” a comedy/romance about young adults trying to navigate the world of online dating and struggling to find a real connection.

The film was inspired by Fradkin’s own experience using dating apps as a young adult in Los Angeles, and he sees himself in one of the main characters, Adam, who cannot seem to find his match.

 “I spent so much time trying to find something real and find an actual connection,” Fradkin said during a recent phone call from a film festival he was attending in South Carolina. “On the surface it seems kind of funny, like a coming of age process that everyone needs to go through.” 

In the end, Fradkin, who’s lived in southern California since completing a degree in film and TV studies at Boston University in 2010, put his frustrations into writing: “I sort of just turned to screenwriting, and it was a very cathartic process to write out the story the way that I saw it and the way that I felt.”

“Electric Love” first made the round of film festivals in San Diego, Beaufort, Silicon Valley, Twin Cities, Lone Star, Bonita Springs and other locations. It’s now featured on Amazon, iTunes, Fandango and most other digital platforms.

The movie opens with a series of comically bad dates, all prompted by dating apps. One scene was inspired by a conversation Fradkin overheard in a restaurant as he was working on the script. The lead actor, sitting in a bar, hears a man and a woman having an awkward time after meeting through Tinder; they struggle to hear one another over the booming music in the background. The man asks his date “What is the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?” and she responds by shouting, “What?”

They continue to misunderstand each other and the conversation quickly burns out, painting a comedic picture of the online dating scene and the lack of connection that dating apps can spur.

Though “Electric Love” is being marketed as a romantic comedy, mostly targeted at women between the ages of 18 and 30, Fradkin hopes men will enjoy the movie, too.

“I definitely want guys to watch this and be surprised by how funny a romantic comedy can be,” he said. “It’s the younger girls that will draw them in, and the guys will be pleasantly surprised and find themselves cracking up the entire time.”

 From the Valley to Hollywood

 Fradkin went to the Smith College Campus School in Northampton until sixth grade and later attended the MacDuffie School in Springfield (now in Granby). He graduated from MacDuffie High School in 2006.

Once he’d learned the ins and outs of working a video camera, Fradkin moved on to making films, winning an award for best student movie at the 2005 Northampton Film Festival. “The Long Road to Gary” was a mockumentary about a French-Canadian director who tries to make a romance film about zombies.

He got his start in Hollywood through Boston University’s College of Communication, in which students spend a semester at a satellite campus in Hollywood; the program provides internships, housing and connections with a variety of people in the film industry.

Through that program, in 2010, Fradkin says he worked at Sony Screen Gems and Arad Productions, producer of the most recent “Spiderman” films, “The Avengers” and other hits. He decided to stay in California after graduation, working starter jobs at commercial production companies and applying for more internships.

About that decision to settle in California, Fradkin says “It remains one of the highlights of my life.”

He made his first film, “15 North,” a 2013 drama about two young men on a road trip to Salt Lake City (the film is currently streaming on Amazon for Prime users, Fradkin says) as a sort of a “test run”: He felt that if he could handle the long, involved process of making a film, he could make it in the movie business.

Creating “Electric Love” was a long process — about three years — but he says it was made easier with the help of his girlfriend and co-director, Victoria Fratz. Fradkin met Fratz not through Tinder, but at an audition, and the two soon started dating. They decided to co-write the script for “Electric Love,” pulling from their own online dating experiences.

“She really brought home the female perspective,” Fradkin said. “That was just as important, if not more important, considering the lead is a girl… We found a nice balance where couples could go in and watch this movie and each gender could relate to it equally as much.”

Fradkin financed the film largely by himself, which he says goes against the advice of most filmmakers. Fratz, the producer, found ways to incorporate cross-collaborations with different companies and products. Awarding producers credit or even small roles would fund parts of the movie, as would featuring certain clothing brands in the wardrobe, Fradkin says.

“It was very much a community effort of me and Victoria and just a couple of other people banding together and pulling the budget together,” he said.

Most of the primary actors in the film were given direct offers, either because Fradkin knew them as friends or from their roles on television. Mia Serafino plays the lead, Emma, and Zachary Mooren plays Adam. Fradkin was also able to pull some well-known television stars, like Kyle Howard from “House Arrest” and Eric Griffin from “Workaholics.”

He signed the movie to Gravitas Ventures, an independent film distributor that gets the film out to the public. Fradkin and Fratz continue to promote the film through flyers, social media, word of mouth and other means.

According to Fratz, “You need to love your project so very much that years can be spent living with it, and you love it just as much on the last day as you did on the very first day when you came up with the idea.”

Though Fradkin is continuing to work the film festival circuit, he has some new ideas for his next film and currently has two scripts in the making. Though he is not yet done with “Electric Love,” he says he cannot wait to start the process all over again with his next movie.




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