Before she landed the part of Anastasia Steele in the upcoming Fifty Shades of Grey adaptation, Dakota Johnson had already been cast in another film about love and sex, In a Relationship. Directed by Sam Boyd, the nineteen-minute short is a raw look into the private lives of two couples—one in the early stages of their romance, the other stuck in the middle of a rut—through a mockumentary-style lens.
Inspired by Woody Allen’s classic, Husbands and Wives, and a recent frustration with the lack of depth in many romantic comedies, Boyd tried to create a film that showed an honest depiction of young love today. “I thought it was funny that romantic comedies were always about these made-up problems. ‘I met the perfect guy but, oh no, it turns out he’s a ghost! How is this ever going to work?’ ” Boyd says over the phone from Los Angeles. “The idea with In a Relationship was to dig deep into the things that really hinder romantic happiness.” As for the fortuitous timing of casting Johnson right before she signed on to play one of fiction’s most infamous heroines, Boyd is nothing but grateful. “When I found out she got the part, I thought, there’s no way she’s going to do it,” he explains. “It was so cool for her to do this huge movie and still be game to do this little thing with us.”