Being Frank traveled the film festival circuit for quite some time before getting its final edits and now a release across the country. The film stars Jim Gaffigan, a favorite stand up comic whose acting career is bursting at the seems right now, as Frank, a man who attempts to balance life with two families; each unknown to the other. Of course, all “good” things must come to an end and Frank finds himself in a pickle with his son Phillip (Logan Miller). It’s a dark comedy that keeps the laughs coming thanks to the creative writing and directing as well as the casts’ impeccable ability to play off of one another yet still maintain a level of drama that is at once an unexpected pleasure and total entertainment.
Bailey recently spoke with me about making the film and her own life’s balancing act. When she first received the script and concept, it took place in the modern time and appeared to pit one wife against another as their persona’s were polar opposites. The wife the main character of Frank, played by Jim Gaffigan, truly loved was the stay-at-home wife who cooked all the time and seemed perfect. Then there is the other wife who worked and no one wanted to be around. Bailey said, “Those elements changed drastically, the roles of the women.” Additionally, the film was set back in time to 1992, a time that had a personal connection for Bailey as it “…was a time in my life that was when my parents got divorced.” She continued, “I felt the fear that Phillip (Miller) goes through. (***SPOILER***) I was able to … say everything that I wanted to say to my dad or to myself as a child through the character. When Anna Gunn [the character of Laura] is saying .. “Well, he’ll always be your dad even though he’s a total dick …” I wish someone would have said that to me.
While Jim Gaffigan seemed an odd choice for the role of Frank, no one else could have pulled off this role. Bailey, never having heard of Gaffigan before (shocking!), initially had Jason Bateman in mind, but as she explained, timing, money, and making it into a Bateman film wasn’t an option. Even more shocking than not having heard of Gaffigan, Bailey and her casting team sent the script to Louis CK! As I gasped about the possibilities, Bailey said, “That would [have been] awful! We made this movie before…any of the Weinstein stuff came out. Movies take a long time to go from concept to [finish] so it’s been pretty interesting in editing based on those things. [In] the version at the festivals, You Can’t Choose Your Family Frank was forgiven by his son and I changed that in the end because the world has changed in that year.”
Gaffigan had the ability to be “…likable and lovable and still doing something so cruel but with cowardice.” And that’s exactly what he does. This father-son relationship story goes far beyond this as it tackles all the varying levels and types of relationships and how lies to one another and to ourselves eventually explode or implode. Bailey explained, “A lot of this movie focuses on lies. Everyone in this film, not just Frank, is lying to someone else or lying to themselves. Whether it’s Phillip lying about where he’s going, that he’s not drinking, he’s studying and his best friend’s lying about being gay, and Anna Gunn’s character is lying about being in a happy marriage. Not lying, but she’s refusing, she knows, she’s reading that book, she knows that something’s going on, she knows she’s not in love, she’s staying the course, she’s lying to herself that it’ll be ok.” Bailey then explained how even Bonnie (Samantha Mathis) subconsciously demonstrates that she knows she’s being lied to by painting the same scene over and over again.
Bailey’s career seems non-stop ranging from producing, writing, leading her own production company, directing and starting the only female-critic aggregated rating system, CherryPicks. Balancing all of this and being married with kids is a tough act, but she credits her strong support system. “I created the situation for me to be able to do it.” She relayed that her husband readily volunteered to be a stay-at-home parent, recognizing that it’s the hardest job there is. She also has the support of her mother, brother, and in-laws nearby creating, as she described, “a solid support system.”
Looking back on her time producing and traveling extensively, Bailey felt the societal pressure of doing it all. Her colleagues, all single without kids would “joke” that she’s a bad mom because she’s not home, not participating in parent-teacher conferences, but Bailey knew she was a good mom. She recounted that her own father never was pressured to go to parent-teacher conferences and finally she said, “I’m not doing this anymore. You (referring to her husband) do it!” She continued, “And I hate dealing with teachers and principals and report cards, so it’s good because I just make him do all that.” Her voice beamed as she said that he’s good at it “…because he’s nice.” She continued, “There’s got to be someone as the tough one. I’m tough in my regular life which is not home so when I come home and they say, 'Can I have ice cream for dinner,’ I’m like, yep! Sure!”
Bailey and I discussed what’s been happening in the eight months that Cherry Picks has been up in its Beta form. The design has changed which she is very excited about and female critics will soon be able to upload their own reviews, adding to the number of films and aggregated scores. Streaming options, ticket purchases, and weekly themed collectives will also be an option on Cherry Picks. Discussing the differences between Rotten Tomatoes and Cherry Picks, Bailey said, “Rotten Tomatoes is great, but it’s for a specific audience and Cherry Picks is also for a specific audience.” Women, we’ve got a place to go for films at Cherry Picks.
Being Frank expands its release this weekend. Be sure to catch this darkly comedic and dramatic film that is the epitome of entertainment.
© Pamela Powell (6/21/19) FF2 Media
Featured image: Miranda Bailey (Amanda Edwards/Getty Images)
Middle photo: BEING FRANK (Credit: Cold Iron Pictures, Imagine Entertainment, Reliance Big Entertainment)
Bottom photo: FF2 Media meets CherryPicks. Both organizations are working to support female film critics onff2media.com and thecherrypicks.com. Pictured: FF2 Media Chicago Communications Manager Georgi Presecky, CherryPicks Co-Founder and Being Frank Director Miranda Bailey and FF2 Media Vice President Brigid Presecky.