The making of FRIENDS (WITH BENEFITS) – part 7

First off, the FRIENDS (WITH BENEFITS) screenings…

September 6th and 11th, 7 PM, New Jersey Film Festival, Rutgers University

First weekend of October (date to be announced), Hell’s Half Mile Film & Music Festival, Bay City, MI

October 16th, 10 PM, Royal Flush Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, NYC

October 24th, 7:30 PM, First Glance Philadelphia

…and the reviews:

Now my reality:

I’m a control freak. Especially when it comes to my films. Even my books don’t generate the blind passion, the rage, the knitpicking. But of course, I’ve never had a book destroyed by an idiot editor. Sure, I might have disliked the cover of GOOD NEIGHBORS or the cover copy on UNWOUND. But still what was between the covers remained mine one hundred percent.

I’m not even talking so much about production here. Because there are certainly people I’ve worked with to whom I give pretty close to free reign. I’ve mentioned them a few entries back. I’m talking about once the film is done…when I’m ready to sign my name to it and show it to the world. That’s when I become a raging lunatic. And BLUE CAR is the example as to why.

BLUE CAR is a beautifully haunting and depressing film about a troubled high school student played by Agnes Bruckner and the teacher who takes advantage of her. Bruckner is startling in the role which is brimming with heartbreak and despair. This is a dark, deep, near perfect film.

But you’d never guess that from the cover of the DVD which makes it look like a teen sex comedy. Hot body, ripped jeans, belly shirt. Hell, I’ve recommended this movie to people who wouldn’t even pick the box off the video store shelf because of the cover.


Now the reason I bring this up. I would have gone ballistic if this were my film. I would have been arrested for what I would have done to whomever was in charge of the DVD cover. Not an exaggeration, I would have fucking nuts. Granted, the original cover, a blue-tinted shot of Bruckner’s face, was far from perfect or intriguing, but at least it made you wonder about the film.


The DVD box not so much. Despite the quotes, you’re pretty damn certain it’s a National Lampoon-type summer sex romp. Or perhaps it’s at least the kinkier version of AMERICAN BEAUTY, where Kevin Spacey gets to actually bang the cheerleader.

I use this example whenever negotiating a dvd deal. It’s the reason why I insist on approval over the cover artwork, or at least a clause stating they can only use the artwork which I provide. It’s one of my biggest sticking points. C’mon, how easy would it have been for some sleazebag distributor to re-title YOU ARE ALONE as SCHOOLGIRL ESCORTS GONE WILD, slapping a suggestive photo of lead actress Jessica Bohl posed in her schoolgirl uniform on the cover? How easy would it be for a distributor to focus on the sex of FRIENDS (WITH BENEFITS) and not the story? They’d argue it would be to sell more titles. Unfortunately they’d be selling more titles to the wrong people.

Anyone bringing home BLUE CAR looking for some soft-core fun would have been sadly disappointed. SPOILER ALERT: Brucker gets molested by her teacher. Her kid sister kills herself for Christ’s sake! What the fuck was the cover designer thinking? Did they even see the damn movie? Probably not!

Likewise, anyone looking for a devastatingly deep, perfectly acted drama would have never gone near the box. Sorry, belly shirt does not scream depression. It screams titillation.

Thus the film was never given a chance to find the audience it so deserved. And everyone loses.

I guess the point of this rant is that just because you’re film is finished, and perhaps you were lucky enough to find a distributor, make sure you’re not signing away your soul for the sake of that distribution deal. If your film is mishandled, it can be more damaging to your career than if it was never released at all.

I’ve seen too many filmmakers say they were just glad to finish a film. But finishing a film isn’t enough. This is your child. You need to watch over it, protect it, nurture it for the rest of your life. You need to make sure it’s as perfect as it can possibly be. And you need to help guide it into the hands of the audience for which it was made. Then and only then will word of mouth will be your friend.

4 thoughts on “The making of FRIENDS (WITH BENEFITS) – part 7

  1. I agree one hundred percent. I saw Blue Car on one of the movie channels and after I got used to Agnes Bruckner’s absolute radiance, I settled in and enjoyed a hell of a film.

  2. hy.on your web site at the beginning you have 100 rules,but it moves so quickly that i can’t read them.can you help me with that,where can i find those rules?thank you

    1. Here you go…

      100. Friends don’t let friends fuck ugly people
      99. Try everything twice, the first time you might have been doing it wrong
      98. Fat girls give the best head because they’re always hungry
      97. Cologne: overrated…Deodorant: a must
      96. Blondes are usually too dumb to realize they’re having more fun
      95. After puberty, that’s not “baby fat” 94. ATM = the Holy Grail
      93. All hippie chicks deep throat, but few vegans swallow
      92. Women like shoes. They will look at yours; purchase accordingly
      91. BBBJ or why bother?
      90. Women cannot parallel park
      89. If you wanna fuck it, you’ve got to be willing to lick it
      88. Ass, stomach, legs, boobs – in that order
      87. If it’s not dirty, you’re doing something wrong 86. If a friend’s apartment is running low on toilet paper, you’re required to use it all
      85. Cheerleaders are overrated
      84. Under no circumstance may two men share an umbrella
      83. Never allow a conversation with a woman to go on longer than you are able to have sex with her
      82. Other than in February, the 14th of every month is Pizza and Blowjob Night
      81. Dogs are better than cats…period
      80. Bigger is never better when they’re fake
      79. Don’t leave the house if you’re not camera ready
      78. A period does not equal a week off from sex
      77. Mustaches and hunting are gay
      76. Sucking your best friend’s dick, that’s priceless
      75. You are not accountable if you bring ugly people home, unless you fuck them again in the morning
      74. If her mom isn’t a MILF, chances are she won’t be one either
      73. Fake orgasms count, as long as they’re not yours
      72. The G-spot does not exist
      71. There is NOTHING sexy about pregnant women
      70. Persistence gets you laid
      69. Never give yourself a haircut while drunk
      68. No panties = a good night
      67. Drinks hard liquor = a great night
      66. Tongue piercing = God loves you!
      65. Saliva isn’t always the best lubricant, just the most fun to apply
      64. White cotton panties and knee socks. Enough said!
      63. Never lend money to friends
      62. Never lend books, CDs, or DVDs to anyone
      61. The month you finish paying for your car, it will break down 60. Elvis is not dead
      59. Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone
      58. What’s good for you does not always taste better. Example: processed peanut butter vs. the all-natural kind
      57. People who don’t use turn signals deserve mandatory prison sentences
      56. Never let a girl shave your balls
      55. Porn saves lives
      54. Republicans are better at…well…nothing
      53. If you’ve never had New Haven brick oven pizza, you’ve never had pizza. There is no pizza in New York or Chicago. Don’t argue, you’ll just sound foolish
      52. Old country = cool Alt-country = really cool New country = sucks 51. Condition your hair once a day
      50. Masturbate twice a day
      49. Eat three square meals every day
      48. Women should never cut their hair, unless they’re going to play for the other team
      47. Crying is blackmail
      46. Your choice: spay or neuter your pet…or yourself
      45. If she sleeps in your bed, sex is a given
      44. If a girl leaves her dirty panties lying around, she wants you to sniff them
      43. There’s no such thing as giving 110%
      42. Halloween is the only holiday that matters
      41. Sympathy sex trumps make-up sex
      40. Body hair just gets in the way
      39. Rip bread, don’t slice it
      38. Every man should learn how to dance, but no other man should know he can
      37. Men have no right to speak on the subject of abortion
      36. Every decade gives us only one great double album: The White Album, Exile On Main Street, London Calling, Being There, and Cold Roses.
      35. Chivalry is not dead, but she has to earn it
      34. Watch Carnival Of Souls at least once in your lifetime
      33. If your pubic hair is blond or red, shaving is optional
      32. You can cheat on girls with hairy legs
      31. If they don’t answer, it means yes
      30. Never turn down a chance to sleep with a celebrity
      29. Sex is better in warmer climates
      28. Emo guys = gay; emo gals = easy marks
      27. Never trust people who don’t drink coffee
      26. Springsteen really is The Boss
      25. If there’s a problem, talk it out
      24. If you can’t talk it out: fuck, then try again
      23. Never lease what you can buy
      22. Never break up using a post-it note, her biker friends will hurt you for it
      21. Never say “no” to a green-eyed girl
      20. Live life as if The Catcher In The Rye were your bible
      19. Don’t lie, you will get caught
      18. Admit that the 1986 Mets were the greatest baseball team of all time and life will be easier
      17. Know the legal age of consent in every place you visit
      16. Wild animals belong in the wild, not in zoos, fairs, or roadside attractions
      15. Pussy farts are charming
      14. Only wear a bra if you’re going to offend me
      13. Beauty is in the eye of the beer-holder
      12. It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye
      11. Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups
      10. When in doubt, mumble
      9. Masturbation is overrated
      8. Small boobs are misunderstood
      7. Better to be feared than loved, but even better to have your love feared
      6. Handcuffs are the ultimate sex toy
      5. If you can’t convince them, confuse them
      4. Quiet girls are the most likely to toss your salad
      3. Women do not understand remote controls, there is no exception to this rule
      2. Never overthink
      1. Friends don’t fuck.

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