Ella and Ben are happy together. But when they finally attempt to DTR (define the relationship) they do a really bad job, threatening everything they had between them. Ella struggles with honesty and identifying her own wants and needs in this cringe-inducing rom com about labels, avoidance, coffee, and the discomfort of falling in love before you know yourself.
Credits / Collaborators / Cast
Writer/Director – Laura Holliday
Starring – Laura Holliday and Ali Ghandour
Producer – Anna Baumgarten
Line producer – Paul Brumfield
Executive producer – Laura Holliday
Associate producer (as Austin J. Thomas) – Austin Thomas
Film Editing by
Production Design by
Sound mixer – Nico Pierce
The story behind the film
I started writing the script for what became “Girl Friend” in the aftermath of a breakup that greatly confused me. I wanted to explore the breakup, but also my feelings about labels in relationships, why they matter and when they matter. When this happened, I was beginning to question the societal norms around what it means to be “in a relationship” (why are everyone’s parents divorced or miserable? Why have my past relationships sucked?) Then I fell for someone who (I learned) did not subscribe to those societal norms or have any use for them.
It can be very uncomfortable to be in love before you know yourself well. You can end up in some untenable place between what society tells you love should look like, and someone else’s reimagined idea of it that is not your own, and doesn’t fit right either.
This confusing territory was full of potential for tension and comedy. Being on set and acting in it myself was a bizarre experience that was simultaneously fun and cathartic and also masochistic.
The shoot was intended to be one day, but we extended it to two because there were jokes I knew would be trimmed down in the editing room, but I wasn’t sure which parts to strike until it was shot. This also allowed for some room for improv – Ali Ghandour is a phenomenal improviser. His improv added so much to the comedy and helped me see which bits/moments were most important to the story and characters while I was on set buzzing around wearing the multiple hats.
I wanted there to be just a smidge of something surreal in the film to add to the feeling that they are sort of closed in, in their own world. And I wanted Ella’s world to be a little bit unreal. That was part of why finding this super strange apartment with a dog mural on it was perfect and why I wanted to lean into the whole thing being in one isolated space, instead of breaking it up. It’s meant to feel a little disorienting.
The song used in both the beginning and end of the film, “Simple Love” by The Dig is one I listened to over and over while writing the script. Both the sentiment and the sounds in it felt totally aligned with what I was trying to make and how I was feeling. Then the composer, Daniel McCormick, used the same sort of quirky organ sound to add some tension and weirdness to the classic-romance sort of cue that happens over Ella’s big speech.