Darren Le Gallo admits that his wife Amy Adams always gives nicer gifts for Christmas, but he's getting better.
He laughs and replies to PEOPLE, "I try. "I believe I have improved little over the years, but my wife is particularly good at that."
The new dramedy Sam & Kate, which Le Gallo, an artist, both wrote and directed, marks his directing debut. Adams, a 48-year-old executive producer on the movie, pushed him to take on the endeavour.
Le Gallo recounts that about seven years ago, "I had another project that I was trying to get going, and, honestly, it was my wife who was like, 'You need to write your next thing.'" The characters and other elements for this story had already begun to take shape, with some inspiration drawn from my own upbringing in Texas' Bible Belt.
"Throughout our marriage, my wife's support has meant everything to me," he continues. "Our partner's support is very important to us. She has incredibly amazing intuition."
He also reveals that some passages are modelled on his personal romance with the Enchanted actress and that the title romantic characters (played by Jake Hoffman and Schuyler Fisk, who co-star with their respective real-life parents Dustin Hoffman and Sissy Spacek) don't look exactly resemble Le Gallo and Adams.
Le Gallo, who wed Adams in 2015 after becoming engaged in 2008, claims that "there are a few instances in there" that "were clearly taken truths from life."
Sam, an aspiring artist, visits his small-town home to care for his sick father Bill in the movie Sam & Kate. He soon develops feelings for local bookshop owner Kate, whose mother Tina also turns into Bill's late-life love interest. As the protagonists learn more about one another's difficult pasts, the drama intensifies.
Le Gallo claims that discussions he had with his daughter Aviana about life and death served as the source of inspiration for the narrative and its topics. (The preteen even makes a cameo appearance in the film as a young dancer in a sequence set in a church.)
In his own words, "I started thinking about parental family relationships a little more once I had my daughter 12 years ago, and then as she got older, when she became conscious of passing and mortality, I started having these conversations." We would chat about trees and the natural world while sitting outside, relating what we were discussing to our surroundings and how it fit into the larger cycle of life and the earth.
She's now 12 years old, so she's smarter than me, Le Gallo quips, adding, "I was trying to ease into it a little.
A significant portion of Sam & Kate takes place around Christmas, which Le Gallo calls "one of my favourite holidays" since it allows for undisturbed quality time with Adams and Aviana.
Several of their seasonal customs? We visit the zoo lights, which is always enjoyable and a fantastic time, but as she gets older, those activities change. I believe that spending uninterrupted time with my family is what's pleasant.
He wants everyone who watch the movie to be reminded that life is fragile and that they should cherish their time spent with loved ones.
Le Gallo states, "We don't know what tomorrow contains; we don't even know what this evening brings." I hope that viewers can feel that and be moved to say, "I want to call my dad" or "I want to go tell my wife what she means to me." I think that would be a success. "Knowing that our time is finite, just looking to those who we care about or love in on our lives and let them know how special they are to us."
Sam & Kate is currently playing in a few theatres and will be accessible on demand and online on November 18.