Do Soulmates Exist? UT Grads Calculate the Odds [Watch]

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Just as we were steeling ourselves to endure the annual onslaught of pink hearts, saccharine clichés, and Hallmark marketing known as Valentine’s Day, a little something different landed in our inbox.

It’s called “Less Than One,” and it’s a short film and web quiz created by Arturo Perez Jr., BS ’06, with fellow Radio-Television-Film grads Drew Daniels, BA, BS ’08; Joel Sadler, BA ’10; James Tristan Moore, ’08; and Hillary Andujar, BS ’09.

The understated, wistful five-minute film follows a melancholy young couple as they debate the concept of soulmates and calculate the odds of finding theirs. After watching the film, viewers answer a series of questions—from what city you live in to how much physical attractiveness matters to you—before the site produces a value for “the number of people perfect for you” near your city. (Ours, for the record, hovered around a respectable 1.41.)

Perez says the project was inspired by a 2009 This American Life podcast in which a few Harvard physicists try to mathematically calculate the odds of finding a compatible partner. Rights to that specific story have since been optioned by Disney, according to Perez.

“The podcast started my girlfriend and me talking about whether soulmates exist or not,” he says. “She thinks they don’t exist, and I think they do. It’s one of those topics everyone has an opinion about. Is there ‘the one’ out there for each of us or not?”

Soon the question was starting dozens of argument among Perez and his filmmaker friends, who collectively scraped together $5,000 to shoot the short film in San Francisco. Perez’s girlfriend, Samantha Jayne, plays the unnamed woman.

“We didn’t make this film to sell anything or to say that there’s one right answer to the question,” Perez says. “We just wanted to get people thinking. If you believe in soulmates, maybe the statistical side of it will change your perspective a little bit. Or if you’re on the other side and you don’t believe in ‘the one,’ maybe the film will make you rethink your position.”

Perez is now at work on a feature-length film loosely based on the first online dating website.

Watch the movie below, and then take the quiz:

Less Than One from artperezjr on Vimeo.



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