In “Besties,” which releases to multiple VOD outlets on Jan. 21, freshman Sandy (Olivia Crocicchia) tries to become best friends with the popular senior, Ashley (Madison Riley). When her father goes out of town for business, Sandy invites Ashley to stay over and babysit. Things start off well, but then the friendship turns into something manipulative and deadly.
To see on which outlets you can watch the film, click here.
The Chico Movie Examiner recently conducted an over-the-phone interview with the film’s director, Rebecca Cutter, who is also one of the writers for CBS’ “The Mentalist.” Check out the full interview below.
David Wangberg: Throughout the movie, Sandy is learning about herself and her sexuality, and she also has this murder lingering over her head. Was there ever a point where you wanted to make this film without having the murder in it and just have it kind of be a coming-of-age story?
Rebecca Cutter: It always had the murder in it from the beginning, just because I really wanted to explore that relationship between the two of them through that lens and [with] much higher stakes. In an earlier draft, Sandy wasn’t involved in it at all; it happened that night, but she had already gone to bed. And I got a very smart note from someone that she needs to be a part of it, so that is how it happened. I never wanted to do a straight coming-of-age movie. Not because I don’t like them, but I just wanted to try something different.
DW: Was any of this drawn from an experience you had in your high school life?
RC: [laughs] I definitely didn’t murder anyone, or at least not that I’m going to tell you… just kidding. [laughs]
Definitely the relationship between the two girls. Not that I had one girl like that, but I remember maybe being in fifth grade and looking up to ninth grade girls and thinking they were so cool, and they had it together and really sort of worshipping some of them. I really wanted to explore that sense. There’s so many media around the idea of a girl having a crush on a boy or the other way around. But this idea of having a crush on someone of your own sex – even though it’s not totally sexual, but sort of that line between worship and crush. That part I drew from reality and, definitely, I remember being a younger woman… not to get weird and creepy and personal… but I blossomed early, and I had older guys hit on me, and there was that line of being flattered but scared, and not quite knowing how to respond. Every woman has to go through it at some point in their life – sort of becoming a woman who is seen in the world by men and having to respond to that. That Sandy/Justin stuff came a little bit from my life. Thank God it was nothing as creepy as what happened.
DW: In the first few minutes, we hear Sandy in the voiceover saying she doesn’t know why she made Ashley her god. To this day, is there still something from your high school experience that you still question – like what you did and the outcome of it?
RC: Not really. I mean, I was pretty self-aware at my high school. Maybe younger than high school, probably [when] I kind of gave away my power to girls in that way, but not really by the time I was in high school. Good question. I can’t think of anything, though. [laughs]
DW: [laughs] That’s OK. Even though Sandy is only 14, she kind of seems old-fashioned. She doesn’t have a cell phone and she doesn’t use Facebook. Is there anything that you do to this day that people might consider old-fashioned?
RC: Oh, my god. I’m totally old-fashioned. I have an AOL account. I have a friend at work who comes into my office and sees how I’m on the computer, and he’s like, “You’re such a mom.” I’m not great with a computer. I’m old-fashioned in terms of technology, which is funny, because I’m a director. I should know how technology works, but I am kind of old-fashioned in that way.
DW: You’ve only directed a couple of short films and now this. With this under your belt now, do you think you might go on to do a couple episodes of “The Mentalist” or anything else that comes along?
RC: I don’t think I would direct a TV show. Unless it was something, and this is way far down the line, that I created, then maybe I would want to direct it. Just the way the TV business works, they’re really for hire, and that’s your whole gig. You go from show to show, and you try to do 13 episodes of television a season. That’s how they make their money. And, really, you’re just coming in and telling someone else’s story. For me, I have to be so passionate about something and so involved in telling that story for me to be interested in directing. Otherwise, I’m perfectly happy just writing for television – as opposed to directing. I do plan, one day, writing another feature for myself to direct.
DW: Are you a full time writer on “The Mentalist” or do you just do a couple of episodes here and there?
RC: No, I’m full. I’m on the staff.
DW: OK. And to be honest, I haven’t had the chance to watch the show yet. I’ve seen a couple of episodes here and there.
RC: No problem.
DW: Is there anything that you can reveal to the fans who might be reading this?
RC: [laughs] We just had our big reveal earlier in the season, so there’s nothing I can think of coming down the pike. We did sort of reboot the show halfway through the season, so there are a lot of new relationships; interesting stuff happening with the leads; and a lot of the interpersonal stuff I think the old-time fans would really be excited for. I know it’s not really a spoiler, but it’s definitely a good season.
DW: Back to “Besties,” there is another part in there where you almost make it, even though it’s based in Southern California, you almost make it where it has that hometown kind of feel to it. What was it that interested you in having that kind of feel instead of setting it in a bigger city? (07:00)
RC: I don’t know if it comes out, but it was really important to me that Sandy and Ashley both are sort of lower to lower-middle class and they go to a school where there are much wealthier kids. For Ashley, especially, she really wants to get out and get away from her mother and to have a different kind of life. So, I was really trying to make their homes like a character – those two sort of crappy ranch houses. That’s what they’re coming from. They’re not in L.A.; they’re in the valley in some kind of a crappy suburb. So, [Ashley’s] ideas for getting out are like, “You’re so close to L.A.; you’re so close to the glamorous world of Hollywood and fashion, but you’re not quite there.” That was what I was going for.
DW: That’s all the questions that I had for you. Did you want to add anything, or do you have another project you’re working on at the moment aside from “The Mentalist?”
RC: I’m working on a TV pilot and some other things that I can’t quite talk about yet. But I will make another feature one day.
This concludes the interview, but the Chico Movie Examiner would like to thank Rebecca Cutter for taking the time to talk about “Besties.”