This Thursday is the first St. Valentine’s Day since the April 2018 release of Family Theater Productions’ groundbreaking documentary The Dating Project. It’s a frank, heartfelt look at modern dating, based on the work of Boston College professor Dr. Kerry Cronin, who’s been trying to reintroduce the nearly lost art of dating to her students.
Along the way, the film, directed by Millennial Jonathan Cipiti, talks to a two of Cronin’s students, a twentysomething woman in Chicago, a thirtysomething woman in New York and a fortysomething man in Los Angeles (which, we’re happy to report, has since married), about the challenges of looking for real love in the hookup culture.
And now, it’s Valentine’s Day. No pressure.
We don’t know a lot about the original St. Valentines (there are three), but we do know that they were all martyred for their love of the Lord. Along the way, that love came to represent love in general, especially romantic love. FTP’s online series Catholic Central explored just that and more in a new episode (more resources here):
If you’re one of those people whose Valentine’s Day is not all hearts and flowers, we think watching The Dating Project (website here) — whether streamed online or on DVD — will be eye-opening and ultimately uplifting. So, in honor of that, I fired off some questions to one of the movie’s producers, Megan Harrington (who’s also a co-producer of the upcoming pro-life film Unplanned, and is now an FTP staff producer) and here’s what she had to say:
What kinds of audience reactions have you heard since the release of the film in the Spring of 2018?
The feedback has been really encouraging from men and women across all age categories. Grandparents ask “How did this happen (state of dating)?” and want to get a copy for their grandkids. Parents who watch it with their children tell us how it opened up an honest and real conversation after. Single people have had an emotional reaction and been inspired. It really is a film for every single person, pun intended.
What’s surprised you about how the film has affected people?
I think what has surprised me is the film’s impact on married people. It has encouraged some to start dating their spouse again, which is awesome.
What more have you learned about the subject matter of modern dating?
I learned so much working on this film, both about myself and the world of modern dating. I believe the oversexualization of the culture has created chaos and uncertainty in what it means to be in relationship. We’ve replaced casual dating with casual sex, and the result is a profound sense of loneliness. I don’t see happier or more carefree people. I see brokenness and people who ache to have a real connection. Dr. Cronin’s “dating assignment” is an opportunity to reclaim the lost art of dating.
The work of Dr. Cronin to help young people relearn the art of dating goes on. Do you have any plans to work with her again on another project?
We would love to work with Dr. Cronin again, but her passion is teaching and I think that is where she will focus all of her energy. What a blessing for those kids who have the opportunity to sit in her classroom. They are receiving an education of the mind and heart, which is an incredible gift.
Did ‘The Dating Project’ accomplish what you hoped it would?
We wanted the film to be a conversation starter, and from the screenings and feedback received, it seems to have accomplished the goal. We hope the conversation continues to grow, and the film reaches colleges and communities far and wide. If you’re interested in group screenings, visit www.TheDatingProjectMovie.com. Yes, that was a shameless plug.
What’s been the most moving thing you’ve experienced as the film has made its way to audiences?
As the film has made its way to audiences, I’ve had an overwhelming sense of gratitude. I’m grateful to God for the opportunity to be part of this film and work side-by-side for endless hours with the most incredibly dedicated team. I’m grateful to God for introducing us to all the amazing people in the film. I’m grateful to God for every comment about how the film has changed someone’s perspective or direction.
Valentine’s Day is a source of joy for many, and pain for others. If your love life isn’t where you want it to be on Thursday, Feb. 14, is there any advice you can give for getting through it?
Well, my love life isn’t where I want so I’ll share what I’m going to do: eat chocolate and play sad songs. Kidding … about the sad songs. The only way to get through life is to live it. If Thursday is a painful reminder of the past, make it a day to bury those memories and embrace the present by inviting some friends over to watch “The Dating Project.” And then…say yes to “The Dating Assignment.”
(The Dating Assignment is a literal assignment that Dr. Cronin hands out to students. You can try it yourself here.)
For a little more info, check out Dr. Cronin’s appearance on EWTN’s The World Over with Raymond Arroyo:
Click here to see Harrington herself on Fox News. Below find The Dating Project trailer:
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Image: Pure Flix/MPower/FamilyTheater Productions
Kate O’Hare, a longtime entertainment journalist, is Social Media Manager at Family Theater Productions.