Everyone wants to date someone who is also their best friend, but what happens when you blur the lines of friendship with your actual BFF? That's what Andrea Grano and Tara Karsian explore with their first feature film BFFs. The film, which has received fantastic reviews, is currently making its way through the film festival circuit and tells the story of Kat (Karsian) and Sam (Grano), two longtime best friends who lie their way into a couple's retreat for some R&R. Instead of massages and cucumber water, these two women are forced to talk about their feelings — and start to develop some surprising ones for one another.
Fittingly, Grano and Karsian are both co-writers and real life best friends. Grano and Karsian met when Grano filled in as a replacement for an actress in a play that Karsian was directing, and, years later, these two are closer than ever. It's easy to see from their friendly bantering (they decided that the term bickering sounded way too harsh) where the inspiration for Sam and Kat came from. In fact, it was their own friendship (and their goodnatured bickering) that sparked the idea for BFFs — how would two friends fare in couple's counseling? The idea stuck with the first-time writers, and they hit the ground running on what would be their first feature film.
Though BFFs has received a great deal of praise from the LGBT community, it isn't exactly the LGBT narrative that audiences may be used to. I asked Karsian and Grano about what makes their film different, and Karsian noted that there's a lack of a "coming out" story within BFFs. Karsian notes that the traditional coming out narrative has been done, "far better than we could tell it," and that their film was looking to discuss something else. While they didn't set out to tell a story about the fluidity of sexuality, ultimately BFFs does open up that discussion.
Had the characters been a decade or so younger, Karsian notes, the story may have gone in a different direction — here, they explore the many factors that lead to falling in love, and while attraction is a piece of the puzzle, it's not the only important part. Grano agrees, stating that ideas about relationships change in conjunction with your values as one gets older, part of the reason why Sam and Kat realize that they may be able to fall for one another after all.
There are many reasons why BFFs is a special find and one of those reasons is that it's a genuinely funny film written and starring two incredibly funny women. (Yes, Hollywood, they do exist!) Karsian and Grano are as strong in their roles as they are in writing the smart, interesting, and complex women they play, and while both Karsian and Grano insist that they didn't set out to create the film with a feminist agenda in mind, they are vocal about the fact that there needs to be a lot more films like it in Hollywood.
When asked what is missing from mainstream Hollywood films, both replied with the obvious: Women. And, according to Grano and Karsian, it's not just whether or not women or represented, but how. Grano states that women need to be represented in ways greater than fighting over a guy or seeking revenge on an ex. Karsian notes that the idea that female friendships are catty by nature is another film trend that needs to end — according to Karsian, it's a true misrepresentation of how women behave toward one another.
Ultimately, Grano thinks that the thing that will help women looking to produce, write, and star in films is having movies like BFFs not be the exception to the rule.
"I don't want [BFFs] to be a female film — I want it to be a good film. That's the truth. I don't want it known for its feminist agenda. I just want it to become a part of the fabric of Hollywood, so that it just is."
Agreed. Check out the trailer below.
Images: Sneaky Pete Productions