Bad Friends (2016)

Reggie’s day just turned into an absolute shitshow! With a little help from his friends, that is. Bad friends.

Written & Directed by: Rob Bowen
Assistant Directors: Josh Boehnke & Sara Balakrishnan
Starring: Nicole Goeke, Mark Cannon, Chad Myers & Rob Bowen
Featuring: Sara Balakrishnan, Chloe Carr & Charlie Moore
Makeup/FX: Matt Young

Awards/Recognition

- Winner of Best Live Action Comedy in 16th Annual UCCS Student Short Film Festival – May 2016

Director’s Notes

What has quickly become a favorite of mine, Bad Friends was an interesting project in many ways. After completing a short film for my Film Theory class which did not get a full release online, I was anxious to make another short, and had even hoped to get it made by the end of 2015. I knew I wanted to make a comedy, and after recently connecting with talented actor Nicole Goeke via the Peak Film Forum in Colorado Springs, I knew she was who I wanted to work with on the project. I selected a script and we began putting pieces together to try and knock it out at the end of the year (which at the time was fast approaching). When it became clear that 2015 was not going to happen, we rolled into the idea of having the film kick off the new year and be our first of 2016.

Then a personal tragedy hit the local theatre community at the college that both Nicole and I attend, which cut too closely thematically to the climactic bit of our short film to go forward with the project. So we adjusted one more time. Looking through the scripts that I had ready, I noticed that the only other comedy I had penned and ready was too grand in scope as far as required cast to make it happen easily and get it ready for release before too much of 2016 had gotten away from us. That’s when Bad Friends was born. I needed an approachable, comedic story that I could also give a bit of excitement too. The idea came quickly, and the script even quicker. Knowing that for scheduling and ease, I would need to be stepping into the main role, made so many of the pieces come together without much effort. As if the story was just waiting inside of me all this time, hiding until I was ready for it.

After last year’s UCCS Student Short Film Festival where I first met the talented filmmaker, Josh Boehnke, we had reconnected and both had the idea of working together on a project. After we each had vocalized this intention, I told him about my intentions of shooting something over Winter Break and he was all about it. Once I had the script for Bad Friends written I sent it along to both Nicole and Josh, and immediately, they were on board! From there the other pieces just kept falling easily into place as far as casting and putting the crew together. Mark Cannon, my friend and star of several of my past shorts also reached out to me in this time and voiced his desire to make another film with me. This gave me the opportunity to revive a character he played formerly in Bad Friends and connect the universe’s the films play in. I wasn’t sure which excited me more, having Mark on board again for another project, or bringing Carlyle back to the screen once more (given that his previous appearance framed him in a context where he could easily be read as a bad friend). Okay, so it was working with Mark again, I mean, the dude is simply awesome.

As we neared the date we had set to shoot the film’s big climax, I realized my own vision for the film was not going to be able to be realized without a little help from my skilled makeup/fx artist whom helped me make The Magician (my first film of 2015) such an impactful short. When talking over my ideas on Facebook with Matt (Young) it was painfully clear that my own lack of knowledge and skill here was really going to hurt the film’s climax, moreso than aid it. As I was figuring out a way to shoot around the ideas I initially had, Matt reached out and volunteered his amazing talents to give the film the impact it truly needed. Some of my fellow officers from the Film Club of UCCS had already offered to give of their time and talents behind the camera help pull the shooting together flawlessly so Matt became the final piece that brought the puzzle to perfect completion!

As we moved through the shoots, and brought in more Film Clubbers to assist in front of the camera as well as behind the scenes, the project kept becoming more meaningful to me. Making a comedy about bad friends, while having so many amazing friends come together so willingly knowing we have no budget or pay we can offer was beyond inspiring. It truly brought a life to the film behind the scenes that helped develop the richness of story and characters we brought to life on the screen as well (which I believe the outtakes that play in the credits highlight beautifully). Sara coming on board was all thanks to Josh and Nicole, and she really brought a lot to the project both on and off the screen as well. Having directed with Josh in the past, they had a great working chemistry that really allowed me to trust in them both and be fully in the moment with my character on the screen as we shot the film. Their instincts and work to realize their visions and mine were beyond clinch to the project, and I firmly believe it was their work that will help elevate the film to the heights I know it shall go.

Chloe Carr, who had helped on my short for Film Theory class, Mirror Mirror, took her role and became the character portrayed in the film (whom was supposed to be Reggie’s mother in the original script as it was written, owing to the fact that the character’s line was on par with something my own mother routinely talks about with my films) when she asked me near verbatim in the first Film Club meeting of the semester what her character asks of Reggie on screen. In that moment, I looked over to Josh who was also in attendance, and I think we landed on the idea at the same time, because we laughed together as I turned to her and offered her the part right then and there.

Chad coming back to help out, only this time on camera, was a real treat for me (and for him too as he has explained to me also) as it is something he has wanted to do for a while now. And after he proved invaluable to me on the sets of The Magician and Don’t Save, I really had hoped to be able to give him the chance on screen and kept looking for a role to fit him into. When Phil turned up on the page, and I found out Chad was available, I felt he was the direction I wanted to go (not to mention, since I had to catch him with my bad back and all, our height difference worked in my favor, lol). I was really glad he was available, because his joy and enthusiasm really fed mine (and I would think Mark’s too) the day we filmed in the alley. Which was good, because with the freezing temperatures, and the hours of exposure (not to mention doing two hours with a wet, “blood” soaked hand), we needed that enthusiasm and the warmth it provided! That was a cold, cold day. But it came out wonderfully. As did the entire project.

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