Exclusive: ‘Good Hair’ Creators Fray Forde and Catherine Dee Holly Return with Indie Film “Pop-Pop is Dead”
Millennial couple Layla (Catherine Dee Holly) and Desi (Fray Forde) vacate Los Angeles living for a three-day trip to Layla’s hometown of Gaffney, S.C. after she get’s word that her Pop-Pop passed away. Let’s just say this isn’t your average family.
Fray Forde and Catherine Dee Holly- a couple from seemingly opposite worlds but not quite, are chasing their Hollywood dreams one kick a** independent film at a time. Together the curly-haired duo, formed Coki productions named after their beloved pomeranian. What a lucky dog!
Fray and Holly birthed the creation of “Good Hair,” a film centering a couple blessed with massive manes that are in a never-ending feud over “conditioner.” The production was selected by comedic veteran Kevin Hart to screen at the world’s largest comedy festival, Just for Laughs in Montreal, Canada.
Following the film’s success, the stakes are high, but according to the pair, that’s a good thing. Coki Productions is releasing their second project on Aug. 29. called “Pop-Pop is Dead,” which was inspired after both South Carolina natives suffered a few family losses. The chaos surrounding the deaths somehow brought laughter into the atmosphere, causing the two to write a script.
“With the movie, we wanted to flip some of those Southern funeral tropes on their heads. The first thing we did was skip the funeral altogether. We wanted to do something more interesting,” says Fray. Their version of a wake involves a wild party with unlimited Moonshine. Now that sounds like a plan!
Fraye and Holly spoke with Ndlyss to give us the inside scoop on their new film, the nightmares of crowdfunding, and dissected a few dreadful Southern stereotypes.
How did you two connect to establish Coki Productions?
Catherine: We met on a film set in South Carolina. We are both from South Carolina but didn’t know [each] other when we lived there. I had just moved back from [Los Angeles] and my friend asked me to co-direct a short [film]. Fray was one of the replacement actors for one of the actors that had dropped out. The relationship didn’t begin there. We [started] dating after we both ended up in Atlanta. From there, we sat down to make something and in the process of that we realized we liked each other more as friends – 6 months later we [produced] our film “Good Hair.” That’s how Coki Productions was formed. We named it after our dog, Coki. [chuckles]
“Pop-Pop is Dead” is the polar opposite of “Good hair,” which shows range within your directorial skills. What spurred the inspiration to pen this narrative?
Fray: After we finished “Good Hair” we were kind of spinning our wheels a lot, trying to figure out where to go next. While we were on the film festival circuit, we dealt with some losses in our family. We saw how crazy it made everybody. It was the most emotional stakes we had ever seen and we saw comedy in it. We started writing from there and then it grew into sort of a love letter to our hometowns and the South.
Americans seem to harbor some very strange beliefs and priorities in connection with funerals. What are your thoughts?
Catherine: I don’t think we celebrate, at least, not where I’m from. I do think it’s a big ordeal and multiple-day thing. It’s very rooted in Southern Baptist religion. It’s usually a church ceremony and a receiving of friends where people come into your home and bring you food for days at a time. The appropriate behavior is to “ball your eyes out.” I’ve always felt a lot of pressure going to Southern funerals because I had a thing where I didn’t like crying in public. It upset my family that I wouldn’t cry at funerals. It was definitely expected. You’re the first person to ask us this question. Pretty cool!
Following the critical acclaim of “Good Hair,” are the expectations absurdly high for “Pop-Pop is Dead?”
Catherine: Totally! We question that all the time and we’re always like, “Is this one a piece of sh*t and we just don’t know it?” This move is very similar because Fray and I are doing what we do best, which is playing a couple. Besides that, thematically nothing else is really similar in this film. We forced ourselves into this big premiere so clearly we like putting the stakes high. We just pray we don’t drown- that’s the motto. [burst of laughter]
Fray: “Good Hair” is a very simple story about a couple that focuses on conditioner. This time we wanted to go bigger; it’s more of an ensemble cast where we focus on other characters outside of ourselves. It does feel like the stakes are high but we like the stakes being higher, it’s more fun.
What prompted the decision to integrate yourselves into the story opposed to casting other actors to play the lead roles?
Fray: Our dream is to have a TV show that focuses on a couple, admittedly us. I think we might be narcissistic. [laughs] Essentially, what we’re trying to do with our films is show that we can carry this kind of story format over multiple storylines.
Catherine: And [show that] we’re good at multiple lengths because “Good Hair” runs 24 minutes, which is kind of like our dream 22-ish-minute pilot. “Pop-Pop is Dead” is 60 minutes, which is our dream TV-movie pilot for a 1-hour dramedy. These stories felt so personal to us as well. With “Good Hair,” that situation of a couple picking hair condition so seriously… that only happens to me and Fray. After we made the film, we realized how universal that was when I had so many women come up to me and say, “I have to scream at him about my conditioner all the time!” It’s not that specific, but at the time, we felt like we were the only ones that could play that role.
“Pop-Pop is Dead” was so personal to my family and roots. I felt like I could trust myself the most with the part if that makes sense.”
How do you both manage to act and direct at the same time while maintaining quality?
Fray: Usually, you’re writing it and your like, “We can do this!” Then you get on set, and you’re like, “Why did we think we could do this?” “Good Hair” was harder because we had never made a film before. That was a steep learning curve on our end. This time, we came in more prepared because we knew we couldn’t do it by ourselves. We did 4 months of pre-production. Our producer, Andrew B., was there through the entire process. When we were in scenes together, he was the guy behind the monitor making sure we captured the thing we intended from the beginning.
What are the biggest challenges with crowdfunding your films and has the process altered your perception about getting financed?
Catherine: We hate crowdfunding! It’s very challenging and we’re not very good at it. We still haven’t cracked it. Now, that’s not to take away from everyone who did show support to us because we did raise money. Although, we raised nowhere near the overall budget of the film. However, it was helpful and appreciated. We started to get into the system of private investors and have had executive producers who’ve come on board. That’s how we’ve made the majority of our budget. We were totally more successful with finding people who really believe in us and have a couple thousand dollars to put behind the passion projects.
“I find it difficult trying to get people to support your art, especially with money. It’s hard because there are a lot of other important things going on in the world.”
Atlanta is reported to now be the home of a $7 billion dollar film industry, how has your experience been working in what’s considered to be the “New Hollywood?”
Fray: There is no way in the world we could have made this film in Los Angeles or New York. We shot the film in Gaffney, South Carolina at Catherine’s childhood home, but the entire cast and crew was from Atlanta. We stayed in Airbnb’s with air mattresses everywhere… that wouldn’t happen in Los Angeles. There’s more community support here. [One thing] about Atlanta is that everyone’s hungry right now and willing to put the time in. You just don’t see that anywhere else.
Take a listen to the “Pop-Pop’s Dead” full soundtrack featuring songs from Jenna Desmond, Susto and Babe Club, Matthew Lohan from Dyado, and the High Divers.
Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie star in first-look for ‘Bombshell’
Starring Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie, “Bombshell” follows the story of several female Fox News personnel and their sexual harassment claims against the network’s founder, Roger Ailes.
Theron stars as Megyn Kelly, Kidman as Gretchen Carlson, Robbie as Kayla Pospisil and John Lithgow as Ailes.
Ailes’ sexual misconduct was first brought to the forefront in 2014 with Gabriel Sherman’s book, The Loudest Voice in the Room, in which he detailed how Ailes offered a well-known television producer a raise if she slept with him.
Two years later, Carlson filed a lawsuit against Ailes for sexual harassment and claimed she was fired for fending off his advances. Kelly later followed suit, detailing her experience with Ailes in her 2016 book, Settle for More.
After Ailes departed from Fox News in the same year, he later was named advisor for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
Bombshell is scheduled to arrive in theaters Dec. 20.
Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci star join forces in Martin Scorsese’s THE IRISHMAN
Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci star join forces in Martin Scorsese’s THE IRISHMAN, an epic crime drama centered in post-war America narrated by World War II veteran Frank Sheeran.
The Irishman will make its debut at the New York Film Festival. The movie is expected to still have a limited theatrical release to make it viable in the Oscar race before it arrives on Netflix.
BBC Documentary ‘A Fresh Guide to Florence with Fab 5 Freddy’ headed US this Fall
Hip-hop pioneer Fred Brathwaite AKA Fab 5 Freddy has announced that his acclaimed BBC documentary — A Fresh Guide To Florence With Fab 5 Freddy, which debuted in the UK this past weekend — will be coming to the US this fall. The documentary follows Fab 5 Freddy as he embarks on a quest to uncover the hidden black figures of Italian Renaissance art.
“Not only were Renaissance artists making art that defined high aesthetic ideals but they were also groundbreaking in showing an ethnically diverse, racially mixed Italy in the 15th and 16th century. You just have to look at the art,” he said in a statement.”
The documentary centers the hip hop legend and art lover as he examines the 15th and 16th century Italian Renaissance art in 15th-century style – on horseback. Amidst superstar artists such as Michelangelo and powerful patrons such as the Medicis, Fab discovers ground-breaking images of a multi-racial and multi-ethnic society that have slipped through the cracks of art history. In a 5-star review, The Financial Times says Fab “visits Florence to insouciantly blow the dust off art history” and The Guardian says that he is “on terrific form.”
A Fresh Guide is just another chapter in the incredible year for Fab 5 Freddy. He released the highly praised 4/20 Netflix documentary Grass Is Greener, which traces the history of cannabis in America and its relationship to people of color. The film takes an unparalleled look at the history of cannabis usage in America through the lens of popular forms of music — jazz, reggae, and hip hop — while also examining the racial disparities and injustices within that world. The film has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and just was named to the UK-based Grierson Awards shortlist for Best Single Documentary (International).
A Fresh Guide To Florence With Fab 5 Freddy will come to US homes this fall, date and other details to be announced later this year.
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