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An Interview With Elena Beuca,
Director of "D-love"

By Sarah Sullivan

originally published: 09/21/2017

An Interview With Elena Beuca, Director of "D-love"

Director Elena Beuca’s feature-length drama “D-love” will be screening at the Rahway Film Festival’s James Ward Mansion on Saturday, September 23rd at 8:00pm.  The film—which is based on a real-life encounter experienced by Bueca and her husband, New Jersey native Dave Rogers-- tells the story of a couple who is approached at the Los Angeles airport by a Danish vagabond, who asks them for a ride out of the area. The wife wants nothing to do with the wanderer but her husband--much to his wife's horror-- offers to bring this stranger to their home. 

I talked with Elena about the story behind the film, along with the fascinating cast decisions and camera choices.



A:  Yes, my husband, Dave and I met a young man named Ditlev Dharmakaya at the LAX airport in 2012, on one of those days when everything that could go wrong, did go wrong and more!”

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“We were in the middle of LAX chaos, dealing with a stolen car, a stolen wallet, lost luggage and a plane delayed for more than 10 hours.  Ditlev (who looked homeless to me) stops me and asks if I can give him a ride to the freeway.” 

“Obviously, this was not the right time to approach me, because I wasn’t in a good mood and he seemed to be adding to our problems.”

“My husband convinced me to help him. We soon realized that Ditlev was a beautiful soul, sweetly goofy, with a childlike innocence.  We decided to take him to a restaurant to get him something to eat and he ended up staying with us for 5 days.” 

“This young man came into our life at the right time; definitely not at the best time, but at the time that we needed him and he helped us switch our perspective, the way we look at things, the way we look at life and the way we looked at each other.  Without being aware of it, Ditlev helped us see something we forgotten about.”

An Interview With Elena Beuca, Director of "D-love"



A: “A few years later, I was looking for a story that I could direct as my first feature film. One night when I was cleaning my computer files, I came across a short script that I wrote a couple years before called “D-love” which was based on our earlier meeting with Ditlev. I wrote it to capture the feeling and impression that Ditlev left on my husband and myself. The moment I re-read it, I just knew I wanted to make it into a film.” 

“Dave and I started to work on creating a story; one thing that we debated was whose point of view the story should be told from.  Should we tell it from the wife’s point of view, from the husband’s or maybe from all three characters’? After playing around with different ideas and scenarios, we decided that the story would be best told through the woman’s eyes and that’s when we started shaping the story and adding layers.” 

“We wanted to make sure that we created characters that are compelling and real and that people can actually relate to them.”  

“In real life, I’m nothing like my Stefania character; she is very closed off.  I want to believe that I am much more open and friendly. I would say I’m much more like Dan (the husband )  than  the character I actually play.”



A: “Dave and I wanted to cast the real Ditlev to play D-love, which initially wasn’t seen as a good idea. Everyone we spoke with felt that a first-time director, working with a first-time actor would not end well. But we knew in our hearts that Ditlev was the best choice.”

“When we first met Ditlev, he did not have a computer or cell phone but he did have a Facebook account. So every time he would have access to the internet he would text us through Facebook Messenger.  That was the only way we stayed in contact.”  

“In 2015, we contacted Ditlev who was now living in Copenhagen and told him that we wanted him to come to America and play himself in a movie about our past encounter.  He was delighted and said he was coincidentally planning on being in America for three months, but the only time he was available to act was the end of October.”

“So, if we wanted to make this movie we had to start principal photography in less than 2 months - and that’s when the sleepless nights started.” 

“Once we committed to have Ditlev play himself, we realized that based on the time constraint, Dave and I would also have to play ourselves, which neither of us wanted to do.” 

 “But we knew that Ditlev wouldn’t be comfortable on set with someone that he didn’t’ know- and that would make my life harder as a director.  So I committed to playing Stefania, but it wasn’t easy.”


A. “We shot “D-love” in 12 days. The majority of the film was shot at our home in Los Angeles, and the remainder was shot at the Burbank Airport, on a plane at Air Mock, at Union Station (downtown Los Angeles), Car Masters in Santa  Monica, and in offices in Century City.”

“I shot the childhood flashbacks in Transylvania, Romania, on my iPhone with a Super 8 lens. Members of my real family appeared in the flashbacks.”  

 “We were able to make “D-love” with the help of Panavision and their program for first-time filmmakers.  Although we had lots of lenses from Panavision to choose from, pretty much the entire movie was shot with one single lens- the 35mm prime Panavision Primo, except for the flashbacks shot in Romania, which were shot on my iPhone using a Super 8 lens. We wanted the camera to become an observer, and wanted to shoot the movie in the most natural and real way possible.” 

2018 Westfield International Film Festival To Take Place September 20-23
(WESTFIELD, NJ) -- Anybody can go to a movie theater to watch a film, but the Westfield International Film Festival is bringing movies to the mansion with its sixth season at the James Ward Mansion in downtown Westfield from September 20 - 23, 2018!  The festival will span a four day weekend and will include Q&A sessions with actors and filmmakers, networking opportunities, and red carpet parties.
JCTC FILM Premiers DEKA-LOG, New Series Depicting Contemporary Urban Life
(JERSEY CITY, NJ) -- A new anthology web-series by an up and coming, Jersey City-based filmmaker, premiers at Merseles Studios on August 23rd when Jersey City Theater Center presents DEKA-LOG: a Finding Me story.  Doors are at 6:30pm, screening at 7:00pm.  Admission is $10.
​​​​​​​The Newton Theatre Presents a Silent Film Halloween With A Live Orchestra
(NEWTON, NJ) -- The Newton Theatre presents a trio of ghostly silent films paired with the original historic orchestral scores on Saturday, October 27 at 3:00pm. Travel back to the early 1900s to cheer and hiss with Buster Keaton in The Haunted House (1921), Laurel and Hardy in Habeus Corpus (1928), and Charlie Chaplin in One A.M. (1916). Between the films, enjoy the rollicking rhythms of the early 20th century as played by The Peacherine Ragtime Orchestra, featuring favorites by Scott Joplin, Irving Berlin, and more! Fun for the whole family!
A Look At New Jersey Film Festival's Fall 2018 Lineup
(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- The 36th Bi-annual New Jersey Film Festival Fall 2018 will take place at Rutgers University in New Brunswick from September 14 - October 26.  The festival showcases new international films, American independent features, animation, experimental and short subjects, and cutting-edge documentaries through over 30 film screenings. The Festival will run on select Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings. The festival is presented by Rutgers Film Co-op/New Jersey Media Arts Center, in association with the Rutgers University Program In Cinema Studies.
​​​​​​​Montclair Film and Hackensack Meridian Health Mountainside Medical Center To Hold Free Screening of "MILK"
(MONTCLAIR, NJ) -- Montclair Film and Hackensack Meridian Health Mountainside Medical Center will present a free screening of MILK (2015) on Wednesday, August 29th at 10:30am at Montclair Film’s Cinema505. The screening, presented in celebration of World Breastfeeding Month, seeks to educate and promote breastfeeding among nursing and expecting mothers.

Newark Black Film Festival
​​​​​​​Richard Wesley is a playwright, screenwriter, and professor of Dramatic Writing at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, and has been involved with the Newark Black Film Festival for well over three decades. A Newark native, he’s currently the Chairperson of the festival’s Selection Committee. The NBFF is currently in full swing, with a screening of Cadillac Records tomorrow, and the biennial Paul Robeson Awards for young filmmakers taking place on Wednesday, August 8. This season’s program also features the films Selma, I Called Him Morgan, The Art of the Journey, Coco, and Hidden Figures. We recently spoke with Wesley about the history and mission of the Newark Black Film Festival, the role it plays in the lives of young filmmakers, and a chance encounter with Sidney Poitier that launched him into the film industry.
REVIEW: "Skyscraper"
Over the last half century, the concept of blockbuster spectacle has flipped on its head. In the 1960s, big budget spectacle meant Steve McQueen jumping over a barbed wire fence on a motorcycle without the aid of a stunt double, or Julie Andrews screaming her lungs out on a Swiss mountainside. Science fiction was relegated to Saturday morning screenings of b-movies, which parents would use to relieve themselves of their tykes while they went shopping. George Lucas  changed all that a decade later, and now sci-fi and fantasy dominates the multiplex, while the only movies featuring practical stunts are those low budget straight to VOD action movies designed to showcase the athleticism of former MMA fighters.
REVIEW: "BlacKkKlansman"
Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman isn’t a remake of Ted V. Mikels’ infamous 1966 grindhouse staple. Rather it’s based on true events (“Dis joint is based on some fo’ real, fo’ real shit,” reads the title card, because Lee is apparently a 12-year-old boy), the story of how rookie cop Ron Stallworth (played here in a star-making turn from John David Washington, son of Denzel) became a member of the Ku Klux Klan in 1978, despite being an African-American.
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REVIEW: "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom"
I recall hearing an anecdote concerning a society of pranksters in 1970s London who would take trips en masse to the cinema, only to walk out when or if the title of the movie in question was spoken by a character. That lot would get their money’s worth with Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, as it’s not until the closing minutes that a returning original cast member (in a blink and you’ll miss it cameo) informs us that we’re now living in a “Jurassic World.” It’s the sort of cringeworthy moment that would normally cause me to groan, but I was so broken down by the laziness and ineptitude of this fifth installment in the franchise that I couldn’t even muster a sigh by that late point.

Event calendar
Tuesday, Aug 21, 2018


MEG BERRY / ROB CONNOLLY @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:00pm

Quiksilver & Sea.Hear.Now present: Fishbone @ House of Independents, Asbury Park - 7:00pm

The Pierce Sessions @ Pierce Memorial Presbyterian Church, Farmingdale - 7:30pm

Agent Orange @ The Stanhope House, Stanhope - 6:00pm


Saturday Night Fever @ Surflight Theatre, Beach Haven - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

The Lion In Winter @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 8:00pm

View all events


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