As the closing credits of Fray Forde and Catherine Dee Holly's Good Hair rolled, I realized that I wanted a garment that both of the film's main characters were wearing, a shirt that has Joe Biden eating the ice cream cone off of Atlanta's own Gucci Mane's face. I also realized that the rom-com concluded exactly where it began — in the bathroom. I was a fan of that. Maybe it's because I don't see enough films create moments of sweetness in the bathroom. I know I've seen movies where the characters have been killed (Psycho, Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter), have had toilet misadventures (American Pie, This is 40, and a host of other teen sex comedies), and even a scene of intense joy (the conclusion of Kill Bill: Volume 2). But I can't recall a film where the bathroom was the setting for a few tender pecks on the lips.
This was apparently no accident. Forde, one-half of the team behind the film, proposed, "What's more engaging is watching people who use the bathroom next to each other and argue over conditioner — the little problems in a relationship after the honeymoon phase is over. And that's what we wanted to make a movie about." The influences of old Woody Allen, Judd Apatow, Joe Swanburg, and movies like When Harry Met Sally and shows like Master of None permeated the film. Like the aforementioned examples, Good Hair tackles the same delicate balance of real human emotions and dick jokes.
The film begins with Frankie (Catherine Dee Holly) learning that her boyfriend, Khi (Fray Forde), has used all of her conditioner on the first day of her new promotion. As the day progresses, Frankie's bountiful red, curly hair grows wildly untamed, reflecting the temporary chaos of her relationship.
Good Hair will have its Charleston premiere this Saturday at the Tin Roof as part of the "Comedy and Curls" tour. Each tour stop also includes stand-up comedy from top comedians in the Southeast, sometimes with a surprise national act, as well as raffles and giveaways.
The film's actors/writers/directors/producers Holly and Forde met on a short film they were working on in South Carolina. They stayed in touch and, coincidentally, both moved to Atlanta within a few months of each other. Initially, they would sit down to talk about ideas and possible projects. It was through that creative process that a relationship grew. Eventually, they decided to work on their own projects together.
"All of our projects we've created have probably always been a form of rebellion. Being bored with the parts we were being offered, tired of waiting for something to come our way, we realized the only way to establish our voices and carve out our place in the film industry was to just make our own content," says Forde.
Holly adds that it's been quite a journey just getting Good Hair this far, saying, "A lot of the initial goals in the concept were based on what can we practically make right now. You always have grand ideas and then when it's time to make it reality, you realize you only have $5,000 for a $5 million concept. So from the get-go, we set out to produce a film we could realistically make. We knew we could film at our apartment, our jobs, venues we've done comedy at."
An added advantage to the co-director approach was that, in this instance, four eyes were definitely better than two. If one was working with actors, the other was working with the director of photography. If one does the outline of a scene, the other person does notes and adjustments. It helps that they've run a very collaborative process, considering ideas posited from every person on set. If a production assistant thought of a great joke, it could wind up going in the movie.
With the help of their producer Ted Kendrick, some investors, and a GoFundMe campaign, Good Hair has been selected in eight festivals since releasing in February, including being a top-20 finalist in the world's biggest comedy festival, Just For Laughs in Montreal.
After watching the film, it's apparent that more material could be mined from the short film. Holly recalled, "As we wrote the film, we discovered themes and ideas about relationships that we wanted to expand on: fear of the future, miscommunication, small, petty fights that turn into potentially relationship-threatening arguments. Once we watched the final cut of the film, we realized there's even more of this story we could tell in a series format. Not just about Frankie and Khi but about the lives that surround them ... we would like to continue following this world, but maybe not just focusing on Frankie and Khi."
In the the midst of the tour, the comedy couple has been actively seeking a chance to be in a comedy showcase hosted by Kevin Hart. A big way to support them is to go on laughoutloud.com starting July 7 and vote for Good Hair to be in the top-five finalists and earn a chance to win a development deal.