Movie Blog Post: BFFs starring Tara Karsian & Andrea Grano

Friday, June 17, 2016

Indie Film Spotlight: BFFs by Writers, Producers, Co-Stars Tara Karsian and Andrea Grano

Looking for a few days of vacation and amusement, two best friends pretend to be lovers while attending a couple’s weekend workshop.

By Tinsel & Tine Editor, Le Anne Lindsay

I received a screener for this film, BFFs,which premiered at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.  Kat (Tara Karsian) is having one of those weeks where you break up with your long term boyfriend right before your birthday and your mother's gift to you is a weekend couples retreat. Kat's best friend Samantha (Andrea Grano) with easy familiarity appropriates most of Kat's birthday gifts for herself, including trying to figure out how she can use the pre-paid couples weekend as a get away to sit poolside.  Eventually, she convinces Kat they should register as a lesbian couple in order to take advantage of the vacation deal.  But there are no free lunches. Just like those complimentary hotel stays, in exchange for listening to a time share pitch, which becomes such a hard sell it ruins the fun. Similarly, Kat and Sam quickly discover upon arriving at the retreat, there's no easy way to get out of participation in the workshops, exercises, group sharing and therapy that's the main thrust of the weekend.

BFFs is classified as a comedy, and at times it puts me in mind of a Love Boat episode as we are introduced to the other couples on the retreat and their issues. More humor comes naturally in the stark differences between Kat, who is short, droll and full of sarcasm and Sam who is tall, attractive and a little neurotic.  Yet, the film is not written for laughs, it actually feels as if this were a real experience the two women shared and journaled about to create a very credible script. The group sessions are handled with nuance rather than broad strokes, for each couple, not just Kat & Sam's relationship, whose vacation quickly becomes a moment of truth in their friendship and romance?...

“The idea for BFFs came directly from our relationship as friends,” says writer and costar Tara Karsian (“Kat”). “Andrea and I banter back and forth a lot like a couple and this often ends in Andrea telling me that we need to go to couples therapy. We know couples who have gone to whacky and humiliating therapy weekends only to go right back to the way they were beforehand, so we aren’t convinced they work.”

We went back and forth joking and plotting out how the scenario would unfold if we went pretending to be a couple. Then we thought ‘What if we started believing we were actually in love with each other?’ That’s when it dawned on us. This was a great idea for a script!” - BFFs Production Notes

From that point the process of raising money, finding a director, putting together a crew, and finding locations took them about five months. They chose director Andrew Putschoegl, who had directed Tara in the award winning short “Hello, Caller.” In terms of financing, the BFFs were able to secure four Angel Investors for BFFs and filled in the rest with crowd funding.

I got a chance to ask Tara & Andrea about the LGBT aspect of the film... 

T&T: I think the budding attraction between Kat & Sam is an interesting romantic scenario to explore, however, I'm curious what has been the reaction by Gay/Lesbian communities? After all, many straight people believe someone can choose not to be gay if they want to, yet people who are gay know there is no choice. But in "BFFs", Sam & Kat are choosing to possibly adopt a lifestyle that's not who they've been. Has there been criticism that this speaks to the idea of people having control over their sexual preference?

TK & AG: To answer your question, the reaction from the LGBT communities have been wonderful. While we were premiering at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, a woman approached us and informed us that she was a programmer for the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival and she thought our film would be a perfect fit for their upcoming festival. Within a month, the festival programming director had contacted us and said that not only were we in the festival, we were to be the Women’s Spotlight Feature!

We expressed our concerns that the film may not be what a predominantly LGBT audience was wanting to see but they assuaged all our fears and off we went to the festival. We are so happy that we did! It was such an unbelievably receptive and kind audience. They gave us a standing ovation at the end of the film and the Q&A was hands down one of the most insightful and observant that we had experienced. From that point on, the film took on a life of it’s own and we began to play equal amounts mainstream and LGBT festivals. We’ve played at over 20 LGBT festivals world-wide and won many audience awards at them.

Ultimately, this film is about friendship and that is a universal theme. What we began to notice is that there is really very little difference between the LGBT and ”straight"audiences. And how wonderful to become so aware of that. I think it may speak to a bigger picture that perhaps, once people remove any pre-disposed ideas of who and what people are, perhaps we’re all more similar than we think. Gay or straight, all these audiences wanted was to be entertained and hopefully, we gave them that.

And neither of us have ever been people who believed that someone could choose to NOT be gay, we do believe that, especially for women, there is a higher degree of sexual fluidity. We think women, especially as they get older, have a greater capability to fall in love with a person’s attributes as opposed to one's gender. Take the “labels” away and we believe we all just want to be loved.

BFF was released on iTunes, Amazon and on InDemand (including Time-Warner, Comcast/xfinity, Bright House and Cox Cable) on June 3, 2016.
Facebook | Twitter @BFFsthemovie | Instagram @BFFsthemovie  

The Supporting Cast: Pat Carroll, Sigrid Thornton, Patrick O'Connor, Larisa Oleynik, Jeffrey Vincent, Sean Maher, Russell Sams, Jenny O'Hara, Richard Moll, Molly Hagan, Dan Gauthier

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is about discovering what I find pleasing in screening & eating - in case you missed it, the name is a play on Tinseltown using the Tines of a Fork.

Feel free to send me info on a film or new restaurant you'd like me to highlight.

Will there ever be a cap on movie prices?

Will we one day pay $20 a pop?

Why don't we pay on a scale?

A crap movie like everything Adam Sandler has ever done should cost about $4.50.
Big action movies like"Lord of the Rings", "Iron Man," "Transformers" are worth $10.
Woody Allen movie or something like "Silver Linings Playbook" $6-$7.
A chick flick or light comedy $5.75 and most Indie Films $5.25.

You could even do it by seasons - all summer block busters from May to August - $10
Sept - November 15th $3.50 - $4
Back to $10 for Thanksgiving and Christmas etc...

Or you can do it by A Actors ($9 - $10), B Actors ($6 - $7) TV actors on the big screen ($3.50 - $4)

Surely I'm not the first person to realize this makes sense. Has it been voted on in the Motion Picture Industry and then vetoed? If so, why?

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