For their first feature, producer Rena Ronson encouraged them to create something a little less ambitious than a full-scale epic, and when they pitched her the basic concept of "Twin Falls Idaho," she was "dazzled," she recalls. "Mark and Michael are entrancing. They have an aura about them, and at the same time they're always one step ahead of you. This idea was artistically fascinating."
Once the script was finished, Ronson mentioned the idea to producers Marshall Persinger and Joyce Schweickert of The Fresh Produce Company. The partners noticed that "from the start, this was a project with a complete vision," Persinger says. "Michael and Mark were on top of everything, from storyboards of every scene to articulating clearly the look they wanted to achieve. It was obvious that the two were serious filmmakers, committed to every aspect of the project. We made an easy gut decision."
"For this particular film, we could trust ourselves both behind and in front of the camera," says Mark. "We saw it as a launching pad, a chance to demonstrate our talentsMichael as director and actor, and myself as writer and actor."
The story is a new take on the classic love triangle between two guys and a girl. But very few films have ever featured conjoined twins, so as a writer, Mark saw numerous possibilities. "I can't work on just the story level," he says. "I have to look for the deeper meanings and the sub-stories occurring on symbolic levels. For instance, there are two very tender love stories in 'Twin Falls Idaho'one between Blake and Penny and another between Francis and Blake. Together they drive a film about marriage and relationshipphysical marriage, emotional marriage and, as the character Jesus describes, a spiritual marriage between two people that can't be destroyed. It's such a complex situation. Most people can't conceive what it would be like to be literally stuck to someone your entire life."
"The film is a love story, yes," adds Ronson, "but it's also about separation. It's about the ultimate union and the ultimate struggle to let go in the hope of finding something even more. At one point, the character Miles comments on seeing two people so dependent on each other how it can make you feel queasy. Yet intimacy is what everyone seeks."
Adds Michele Hicks, a successful fashion model making her film debut in the lead role of Penny, "This is also a film about what it's like to be truly aloneas Penny is alone. Maybe the only reason we're here is to find another person who really understands us."
Wry humor intentionally underscores the film's themes, Mark says. The twins' adventures range from a costume party on Halloween"the one night of the year they're normal," as a character puts itto a run-in with a lawyer determined to separate them and sell the story to the tabloids.
"Even in their circumstances and when things look bleakest," Mark continues, "Blake and Francis say the kinds of offbeat things they might've said in their sideshow act. Their approach to life lightens things up. It's real. It's a way of seeing the humor in even the most serious and unusual circumstances."