Arguably one of the best comedies of the last 20 years is Friday, the Ice Cube film that spawned a franchise and turned an unknown comic named Chris Tucker into an overnight superstar.
The movie is an episodic look into a single day of two young stoners named Craig and Smokey, just trying to pass the time. What made it seem fresh upon release was the casting. Two black males, headlining a studio comedy? It was unheard of in the early 90's, when movies like Menace to Society and Cube's own Boyz in the Hood were the dominant portrait of African American culture.
In the tradition of Craig and Smokey (also Cheech & Chong, Harold and Kumar and anything starring Seth Rogen), Birds Eye Film wrote and produced their own stoner comedy, titled Best Buds. The inspiration was to use the basic template of a movie likeFriday, but rather than two black guys in South Central, our movie focuses on two white girls in the suburbs.
Let me be the first to admit that this is hardly a novel concept. In fact, Hollywood came close to producing a female-led stoner comedy starring Natalie Portman under the same title that never came together. So what happened? High-grossing comedies like Ted, Knocked Up and Pineapple Express all show that potheads on camera are more popular than ever.
The reason is that despite anomalies like Bridesmaids, Hollywood is still a male-dominated business that gets uncomfortable when women step outside their stock role of sex object or house slave. Putting a bong in a woman's hand doesn't translate to female empowerment, but the goal at Birds Eye is to prove that women should have the same screen opportunities that are available to men.
After developing a 23-page script with co-writer Tom Ford, auditions were held in downtown Orlando, FL. With the help of our producer, Ashley Russell, we viewed countless auditions looking for actors with the right kind of chemistry.
We cast Angelica Naia-Gabor and Emily Cutting, two lovely and talented actresses who give a ying-yang contrast to the central dynamic. The third character in the ensemble is the bumbling pot dealer Alex, and we wanted someone who could bring a loose, live-wire energy. We cast the amazing Will Browning, who creates a memorable character portrait in just a short amount of screen time.
With our cast locked in, we needed an experienced crew who could back us with lighting and sound. My guy for lighting is Brent Reynolds, who brings essential craft and knowledge to any film or video set, along with a pretty sweet grip truck filled with cool toys. Our sound man is Ralph Barnette, a guy who can quickly rig clear audio in very tight (or very mobile) situations.
We shot over three days from March 22-24 on the Sony FS-100. I love this camera's sensitivity to low-light and the depth of field given when using a mounted lens. The lightweight body means that even the large "35mm-size" CMOS sensor can be mounted or used handheld just about anywhere.
We launched the finished short on Vimeo.com on April 20th, and have since garnered over 10,000 plays since that premiere. Now only one question remains ...
Should the adventures of Emily and Michelle continue?
Join in on the conversation: facebook.com/EmilyandMichelle