By Kristina Houck
Two people meet online and go on a date.
Although the premise of “Rolling Romance” sounds familiar, the two main characters in this short film have muscular dystrophy.
Written by Del Mar screenwriter Michael Carnick, “Rolling Romance” is a dark comedy about sex, drugs and disability. The 22-minute film, which was shot in 2012 in Los Angeles, was inspired by Carnick’s real experience with online dating.
“The event was so surreal — two people in wheelchairs dating,” said 31-year-old Carnick. “It’s not something you see in movies, so I thought it would make a really good movie.”
Born with a rare muscular dystrophy-like condition known as congenital fiber-type disproportion, much of Carnick’s work focuses on disability awareness and the experience of being a minority.
“I wanted to get across the idea that people with disabilities are just like everybody else,” Carnick said. “We do go on dates, we have bad dates, we act stupid, we do drugs, we talk about sex and we act like [jerks].”
Always a storyteller, Carnick discovered his passion for writing stage plays and screenplays after enrolling in a set design class at the University of California, San Diego. The class inspired him to change his major.
“It’s a very visual storytelling as opposed to a book,” Carnick said. “You tell it with visuals, and I’ve always really enjoyed that.”
In a screenwriting class, Carnick wrote “Who’s Driving Doug?”, a feature-length script that won first place at the 50th Anniversary Samuel Goldwyn Writing Awards. He was the first undergrad to receive the award.
After graduating from UCSD, Carnick went on to get his MFA in creative writing for the performing arts from the University of California, Riverside.
“Rolling Romance” follows Orson, portrayed by David Holt, and Janice, portrayed by Emily Goss, who meet online and go on a horrible, yet hilarious date. The film is produced by Melissa Harkness, whom Carnick met while they both were in the MFA program at UCR. The dark comedy was directed by David Conley, who used his own camera equipment to shoot the film, which was funded by Carnick’s family and more than $5,000 in donations from Kickstarter, an online funding platform.
Carnick said he believes the project had 93 backers on Kickstarter because the topic is “universal.”
“It touches people,” he said. “We’re all trying to find love, whatever color or shape we are.”
A private screening of “Rolling Romance” took place at 6 p.m. on July 21 at La Paloma Theater in Encinitas. There was a Q&A with select cast and crew after the screening.
“It’s a good movie. I think people are going to like it,” Carnick said. “It’s a short movie, but it goes through a range of genres and emotions, from sad, to heartwarming to funny. I think you get a big experience out of it even though it’s a small investment of your time.”
For more information about “Rolling Romance,” visit