Move over BFF. It’s time to make room for GBF – the Gay Best Friend. He’s the must-have accessory for any high school girl climbing the social ladder.
Or so goes the premise of the comedy feature “G.B.F.,” which kicks off the Tacoma Film Festival on Thursday. The film’s screenwriter, George Northy, will present the film.
The film that echoes classic teen movies follows the top three social divas and two closeted gay teen boys at an American high school. One of the boys, Brent (Paul Iacono), wants to come out of the closet to improve his social status. The other, Tanner (Michael J. Willett), just wants to stay in and be left alone. But it’s Tanner who is unwillingly outed and becomes the object of pursuit for the three girls who vie for him like a pair of Manolo Blahniks on sale.
All three girls wear labels of their own: Fawcett, the blond cheerleader; Caprice, the black drama diva; and ‘Shley, the devout Mormon. “Don’t you think it’d be fun to meet one? A real-life gay. If we were really super-duper nice to him, maybe he’d realize the only person he should be gay for is Jesus.”
Northy acknowledges that high schools without openly gay and lesbian students are few and far between in 2013. “We wanted you to suspend your belief in that. Maybe all the other high schools around them have gay kids, but this one doesn’t so tension is building,” he said.
Northy, 29, wrote the film in 2011 as a creative outlet while working in advertising in New York City. He submitted the script to an LGBT script workshop. That led to a reading and a connection with director Darren Stein.
“He called me as soon as he read it and said, ‘I want to option this,’” Northy said. An intensive fundraising campaign soon followed.
“We raised just enough to make it,” Northy said. He won’t reveal the figure, but said it was less than $1 million. The film was shot in 2012 and it premiered at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival.
“G.B.F.” includes appearances from several well-known actors, including Natasha Lyonne (“Orange is the New Black”), Megan Mullally (“Will and Grace”), Jonathan Silverman (“Weekend at Bernie’s”) and Horatio Sanz (“Saturday Night Live”).
Mullally plays Brent’s mother – a woman who is so supportive of her son’s orientation (despite the fact he hasn’t come out to her yet), she organizes an ad hoc gay film festival in her own home. Mullally steals one scene when she offers up commentary to her increasingly mortified son during a viewing of “Brokeback Mountain.”
“I think in the original script I had one comment she makes about the sex scene,” Northy said of the “Brokeback” scene. But when they realized Mullallys’s skill at improvisation, Stein and Northy decided to have her ad lib the scene. “We played it during the scene and she would go off and do these really long takes with crazy rants. It was one of the funniest moments on set. We were having to shush people who were laughing.”
The film captures the times: Members of the school’s gay-straight alliance, depressed that they don’t actually have any gay kids in their club, use a social app to find Tanner.
“We’ve got one! Our very own homosexual,” one of them shouts when they out Tanner to the entire school. After leading a carefully closeted life (“I learned how to clear Internet histories when I was 11”), Tanner becomes the target of harassment, but is quickly saved by the three social queens.
But Tanner doesn’t seem to fit gay stereotypes, much to the disappointment of the trio: “You don’t even sound like the ones on Bravo. Say the word ‘fierce,’” Fawcett commands Tanner.
Since its Tribeca premiere, “G.B.F.” has played at a variety of LGBT and general interest film festivals. It’s appealing to a wide audience, Northy said.
“We really wanted it be a comedy,” Northy said. “But it’s also a story about objectification – in every sense. While the plot is based on the girls’ objectification of the two gay boys, the two gay boys have their own way of objectifying the girls,” Northy said. “The girls are treating them like status symbols, and the boys are treating them like ladders to climb the social structure.”
The success of “G.B.F.” has led to a new career for Northy. He quit his advertising job and relocated to Los Angeles. He’s been hired to write a scripted show for MTV and he’s writing another feature film.
“It’s amazing what this one script has done to change my life,” he said.
Tacoma Film Festival opening gala
When: 6:30 p.m. Oct. 3
Where: Annie Wright School, 827 N. Tacoma Ave.
Tickets: $30 ($25 Grand members), $11 movie only
Information: 253-593-4474, tacomafilmfestival.com
Cast: Michael J. Willett, Paul Iacono, Andrea Bowen, Sasha Pieterse, Xosha Roquemore, Natasha Lyonne, Megan Mullally
Director: Darren Stein
Running time: 1:38
Rated: Not ratedCraig Sailor: 253-597-8541 email@example.com