BFFs: Lady Bromance or Romance?

Exploring the gray area between friends and girlfriends at aGLIFF

What would it take to get you up a telephone pole despite a crippling fear of heights?

For Tara Karsian and Andrea Grano, the ladies who created BFFsscreening tomorrow as part of aGLIFF – it was an attempt at movie magic. Luckily for them, it was a successful attempt that offered one of the most touching (and hilarious) scenes in their 95-minute film.

Photo courtesy of BFFs Film

Actresses and real-life best friends of 11 years, Karsian and Grano came up with the idea for their first feature film as producers and writers accidentally. “We were joking around one day, and I asked Tara, ‘What if you realized how in love with me you are?'" says Grano. What started as a joke evolved into a feature film that dares to blur the lines between best friends and lovers.

BFFs follows Sam (played by Grano) and Kat (played by Karsian) as they pretend to be girlfriends at a weekend-long couples retreat. While there, they meet several straight and gay couples, all of whom are grappling with personal relationship hiccups. Hilarity ensues, along with touching moments that anyone who’s ever had an intimate relationship can, well, relate to.

“In this story we’re kind of turning the rom-com on its side,” says Karsian, a romantic comedy fan. Grano, on the other hand, is actually more of a horror aficionado. “We really wanted this story to be about friendships, while also looking at what happens when you start to get older and attractions change. What you’re attracted to at 20 is way different at 32.”

Though both women are ambiguously straight – when asked if she identifies as queer, Karsian’s responded, “Although I’ve lived primarily in southern California, I’ve visited northern California on multiple occasions and have enjoyed my time there immensely” – their film is universal. A rarity among LGBT movies, this one shies away from typical “gay” stereotypes. “As far as I’m concerned, relationships are relationships,” says Karsian. “You can’t differentiate between gay and straight relationships, because they’re universal.”

“We wrote the script from the perspective of having friends who are gay,” explains Grano. “When we’re with them, it’s not like we’re going to lunch with our gay friends; we’re simply going to lunch with our friends.”

In truth, gayness is more of the secondary thought in BFFs. The first, as the movie is aptly titled, is friendship – specifically, the bond shared by women. “So frequently in pop culture, friendship between women is centered around the opposite sex. Kat and Sam identify on a larger level than just who they have a crush on. It’s more like a bromance,” says Grano.

“I’m tired of seeing catty relationships between women in movies. That’s not our reality,” says Karsian. “We’re like two 12-year-old boys. The shit we do – we had a water fight in a gas station one night – is that normal? And there needs to be more of that, more positive representations of female friendship in films.” The pair did secretly worry that the stress of making this movie would somehow destroy their decade-long friendship, but they say the experience only made their bond stronger.

Both women feel pretty certain that movie magic graced their first film. As is commonplace with indie projects, this one has some serious DIY roots. Funded by an Indiegogo campaign, along with a couple private investors, Grano says production really came together once the director, Andrew Putschoegl, came aboard. “They say on your first film you’re allowed to accept favors; hopefully, by your second film you can pay people. A lot of people volunteered to work on our film for free. We were really, really lucky.”

“It was kind of like being in a really cool camp for a few weeks,” Karsian continues where Grano left off, regarding the set atmosphere. “Everyone was incredible. You could always hear laughter, and people smiled a lot. That never happens on film sets. I’ll speak for both of us – which I like to do – it was an experience we’ll never forget.” Now that the creating is done, Grano just hopes that people walk away from the film feeling entertained and proud that it was made by two women.

For the time being, these ladies are still riding their well-deserved high. Though they’re in the process of figuring out what the film’s distribution will look like, both actresses will be spending a couple of days in Austin as part of their festival circuit. But if you see them, don’t bother asking about BFFs’ ending. They’ve already decided, they’ll never tell. Without spoilers, Grano says that, as far as the end is concerned, audiences seem to be split down the middle. “It depends where you fall on the romantic scale, and how you view relationships.”

Photo courtesy of BFFs Film

“We always knew the ending,” adds Karsian. “Our director suggested we film a couple alternative endings, but we wanted the ending you’ll see.”

BFFs screens tomorrow night at the Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar. Co-writers/co-producers/co-stars Tara Karsian and Andrea Grano will be in attendance along with director Andrew Putschoegl.

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BFFs, Tara Karsian, Andrea Grano, aGLIFF, Austin Gay and Lesbian International FIlm Festival, Andrew Putschoegl, Alamo Drafthouse S.Lamar

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