Betrayal happens with the people you are closest with.
In the comedy, FRIENDS EFFING FRIENDS EFFING FRIENDS, it tells a story of a few friends on relationships, their timing, missed opportunities, luck and unrequited love.
The film stars Tyler Dawson, Christina Gooding, Jillian Leigh, Graham Skipper and Vanessa Dubasso.
LRM had an exclusive phone interview with director Quincy Rose last month. We had a discussion the origins of the story, producing a microbudget film, maintaining a small cast and the challenges.
FRIENDS EFFING FRIENDS EFFING FRIENDS is currently available on VOD and iTunes today.
Read the interview transcript below.
LRM: I’m curious. Where did your story originate from for FRIENDS EFFING FRIENDS EFFING FRIENDS?
Quincy Rose: As a writing, you’re always thinking about different concepts or you might be thinking about telling a different story that might be entertaining. I’ve overheard some conversations with friends. People had told me some pretty outlandish scenarios they’ve found themselves in when they’re not behaving in the way they should have. It’s kind of from a stream of collections of discussions over the years on misbehaving while they’re in relationships.
I started thinking about a person who would be like the character Steve in the film, who is played by the actor Graham Skipper. It’s the guy who is most wild and who is the most out there. It’s somebody who doesn’t deal with guilt on a daily basis. I was thinking on what that character would be like and who would his friends be? What would happen if a friend was aware on what this guy was doing? And what if that person had a girlfriend?
So it was coming up with something that is interesting for people to justify bad behaviors. I guess the lowest common denominator would be—if you had a friend you knew was a thief and he was stealing candy bars. You were at his house and saw these candy bars. Then you thought to yourself, “I’m going to take a candy bar without asking. What’s the difference? He stole them.”
By applying that principle to people and relationships, so if you knew a friend was cheating on his relationship—that girlfriend came to you in confidence—and you guys had some certain connection. You were just being that helpful person to listen to her problems, but you guys developed a deeper connection. Maybe you would justify some poor behavior based on the fact that you knew your friend was not treating her correctly.
It was just really exploring that idea.
LRM: It wasn’t based on actual specific friends who did directly do this stuff, right?
Quincy Rose: No, no. It’s actually based on some friends. [Chuckles] It’s nothing immediate. They are stories that go back a while. I, myself, was not a particularly great partner to be in a relationship in my early twenties. I was taking some really bad stories personally or otherwise people had told me. I applied it to these characters in various ways.
Some of the specific stories are boiled down. They can’t be the whole story or else it’ll be one person telling a story for an hour. Some of the incidents within the film are actual true stories that I had to boil down to its essence and details. A couple in particular, I don’t want to giveaway, is pretty accurate.
LRM: I see. How did you want to ground this film between realism and inserting humor at the same time? It is more of a Woody Allen-style, right?
Quincy Rose: Yeah. If anybody draws that kind of conclusion—I would always say thank you. That is a big influence on me trying to tell a story that may be typically to have a very dramatic element to it. I think this film does capture that as well, but having the undertone of pushing the film to be the humor. It adds to the relevance to the subject matter we’re dealing with.
A lot of it is on who’s telling it and on who’s saying it. I think a lot of storylines in the film—if you had someone tell it in a different manner—it might be more sad or pathetic or serious in tone. If it’s an energetic thing or on how they’re saying it—sometimes that’s the difference between drama and comedy.
At other times, I want the dramatic, heartbreaking moments. Jillian Leigh, who plays Laura, does not get the not-so-good end of the stick in a couple of situations. She does her own digging as well to make it worse. There are scenes with her in which she is in full breakdown mode. If you’re not too closely attached on what’s going on, you can actually laugh at on how she is breaking down.
There are some moments that should be funny ended up being very sad and heartbreaking. You just take that with the comedy. It enriches [the film], I believe.
It’s a roundabout way of saying that we were trying to be funny, but aim for a degree of similitude. It’ll be something relatable to something that can happen in real life. Anybody watching the movie could relate to it if they went through it or had a friend that went through something similar.
LRM: Talk about keeping this film as a low budget production or indie project. Why did you want to go this path and the challenges with it?
Quincy Rose: The reason on why anybody goes low microbudget—it’s purely out of necessity. No one comes along and says, “Here’s a half a million or a million dollars to do a film.” You look at what you got. You look at what you can work with. You adjust accordingly.
In this scenario, I’ve trying to make this film much earlier. I couldn’t come up with a budget that I felt would honor the film properly. I was thinking of the little money I had and what film I could make at that time.
I made my first feature called MILES TO GO, which could be found on all VOD platforms. I’m mentioning that since that film I made with far less than this movie. So it wasn’t until I came up with a budget that I felt it was satisfactory to make this film and honor the material. In doing so, you have to adjust the script accordingly to fit the budget you’re dealing with.
I won’t go into specifics of our budget. The script was not originally written to only take place in five locations and a few outside locations. It was written like to take place all over Los Angeles. Then you look at your budget and go, “Okay. We can’t have 22 locations. We could have 8 place. How do we bring it in?” Which places can we lose? How do we shift some scenes?
Now that becomes the challenge in doing that. It’s not like you set out by telling yourself that you would like to make a movie on very little money. You just say to yourself, “I’m going to make a movie. I’m not going to wait for someone to give me permission.” What money can I come up with? What story can I make with that money?
That’s how it works with these lower budget feature films. At the moment, I have a film getting ready to shoot in New York City knowing that I would be spending no money. The film is designed to fit that budget. This is just walking and talking through New York City. I have a cameraman and a sound guy.
With FRIENDS EFFING FRIENDS EFFING FRIENDS, it had to do with on what budget I had and on whether it’s good enough to make it.
LRM: Wow. You love these challenges, don’t you? [Laughter]
Quincy Jones: I really do love the challenges. Look, I would love to have someone to come along and say, “Here’s a half of million dollars or a million dollars.” It may not be a big budget to a lot of people, but it’ll be a budget I could really play around with. I would love that.
In the meanwhile, I’m not going to sit around and wait for someone to say yes. All the people I look up to and admire, who are very active professionally now doing shows today, were doing this ten years ago. Some of them are still doing it between their bigger projects that got funded.
It does present a challenge. Then again, if you are given a million dollars—it’s another challenge. Wages do go up. There’s mandatory union things. There will always going to be challenges. Every film, as I loosely paraphrase Francois Truffaut says, will have its series of problems. The director with the producers are there to find the solutions. It doesn’t matter if you have a hundred of million dollars or a thousand dollars—there will always be problems on those sets. It really comes down to problem solving.
That’s the pure enjoyment I find in directing.
LRM: Now talk about working with a small cast. You seem to develop a nice comradery.
Quincy Rose: Oh, thank you. You can try to find a lot of actors, but you would have to lessen on how many days they would be working to be on one film and minimize the expenses of the payroll. There are minimum we have to pay to SAG actors.
There were more characters in the original bigger script. There was a guy working at a coffee shop, for example. All of these people can go away. I don’t want to say those characters are superfluous in nature. But when you’re making a film about five friends who are continually cheating on each other, it’s not a necessity to have 48 people on the project. You can easily eliminate all those scenes. Those scenes did exist originally.
There a scene queue at a party. There would’ve been fifty extras and a DJ. Let’s get rid of all that. Instead of that, we’ll meet at a restaurant or have it in a park with two people. You just really boil it down to the material of the essence of what you’re trying to say and who is the prerequisite to say that.
LRM: Now why didn’t you want to play a lead role yourself like in MILES TO GO?
Quincy Rose: There are a number of reasons. For MILES TO GO, I really felt that I had to play Miles. It wasn’t really a necessity to eliminate a paycheck for someone. I could always not pay myself and put that money back into that budget. I also felt very strongly to the character and my connection to it.
Originally, when I wrote FRIENDS EFFING FRIEND EFFING FRIENDSI and it was called something else entirely, I did consider myself to play the lead role of Jacob, who Tyler Dawson played. The budget would’ve been different and things would’ve changed. I spoke to my co-producers and decided it would be a good idea to step back on this one. Just try to manage a different element and give full attention to that.
There are a number of reasons. I couldn’t just give one reason. I could have played in it and saved some money. In the end, Tyler offered something different that what I could have done. In watching Tyler’s performances, he was doing things I was not expecting. It makes it interesting to me. It wouldn’t be exactly on how I would’ve done.
In the next film I’m doing, I am playing one of the characters. I guess I choose on which characters I want to do. There’s no rhyme or reason—it’s just whether I feel passionate about the character.
LRM: Quincy, let me wrap it up with one more question. What is the worst way to “eff” your friends? Not literally of course.
Quincy Rose: Wow. It really all comes down to deceitfulness. Malicious lying. In relation to this film, it will be lying for your own personal gain. It’s to know that on what you are doing is really going to harm these people when they’re definitely going to find out. That’s definitely the way to screw your friends over, especially if leads to it sexually or just simply backstabbing them. When you purposely set out to harm your friend—it’s not cool. These are lessons you had to learn in your youth. I had to learn it the hard way in my early twenties.
So basically, in FRIENDS EFFING FRIENDS EFFING FRIENDS, they’re behaving in a while that’s not okay for the ages they’re at. It may be more appropriate in your teens or on drugs, but not acceptable as adults. Definitely, not cute.
Thank you for having me on.
LRM: No, thank you. It’s been a pleasure.
FRIENDS EFFING FRIENDS EFFING FRIENDSI is currently available on VOD and iTunes.