NORMAN — Cindi Finneran and Charley Reeves of Norman had read maybe half a romance novel between them. They didn't know much about filmmaking, either. Even so, they found themselves on their way to Houston intent on making a documentary film about the romance novel industry. Finneran, a hairstylist and single mother of three, had done professional freelance photography for years. "But stills, never video,” she said. Reeves, her fiance, is a graphic designer and 3D modeler for an architectural firm. His passion outside of work: music. Doing a documentary? Not on the radar, at least until Finneran came home and suggested it. The two have this in common: They love to learn new things, and they never pass up an opportunity to have an adventure. So when a client of Finneran's — Sharon Sala, published author of more than 60 romance novels — suggested she and Reeves team up and document an upcoming romance convention, Finneran thought, "Why not?” And, Reeves said: "Let's do it.” Two weeks later, the two were headed to the 2007 Romantic Times convention in Houston. Finneran said it was an eye-opener. "Here was a whole world I didn't even know existed,” she said.
‘Reading, riting, romance'Hundreds of romance novel enthusiasts roamed the convention floor, most of them in costume. Finneran and Reeves soon learned that for one week every year, romance writers, fans, publishers and the male models who pose for the books' covers converge at the convention to walk, talk and act out romantic fantasies. Captivated, Finneran and Reeves grabbed a video camera and started shooting. "We had no agenda. We had no objective. What we did had was curiosity,” Finneran said. "Reading, Riting, Romance: Taming the Alpha Male,” is the result of that first shoot, plus more than a year's worth of interviewing and filming, including a follow-up visit to this year's Romantic Times convention in April in Pittsburgh. "This year it was almost like coming home,” Finneran said. "When I arrived in Pittsburgh, I found myself getting excited. I realized I knew how they felt. I got it. I got the sense of community these people have. They see each other only once a year but they share this great passion. I respect that. I want to capture that passion on film.” The premiere of "Reading, Riting, Romance: Taming the Alpha Male” is planned for March at the Cut Film Festival in San Diego, Finneran said. "We've got 20 hours of new footage yet to be edited, and we're still looking for sponsors because we're temporarily out of money, but that's our goal,” she said. Once the film is finished, Finneran and Reeves plan to attend another Romantic Times convention, this time to play, not work.
By the numbers
$1.37 billionSales generated by romance novels in 2007
6,400Number of new titles published in 2007
1 in 5Estimated number of American readers
93Percentage of readers who are women Source: Romance Writers of America