Stories about teenagers discovering and struggling with their sexuality is not unfamiliar territory for the big screen and indie film scene, but Giant Little Ones transcends what is expected of the very easily labelled genre, coming of age drama. When two best friends, Franky and Ballas, share an unexpected encounter after a night of celebration, Franky’s world is shattered. Exploring family, friendship, sexuality and love, Franky is able to open himself up to all the possibilities around him, but not without pain first.
First screened at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2018, the film has gone on to receive positive reviews from critics and audiences alike. Giant Little Ones has finally made it to the UK and was screened last year at BFI Flare, which is where we were lucky to watch the film.
With the upcoming release of Giant Little Ones we got a chance to have a chat with the film’s writer and director, Keith Behrman.
What inspired the film and how did you come to tell this story?
The film was inspired by a story about 6 years ago, when some kids killed themselves because they were being bullied, some for their sexuality. I was at a point in my life where I was meditating, going on retreats, thinking about what I was going to do next. I was near the end of one of these retreats and I had a call with a friend about the kids. Then I had a dream about a boy talking to his mother in a kitchen and I began writing about this boy. I didn’t set out to make a film about those kids who killed themselves, but that conversation with my friend inspired the film.
The film has easily been labelled as ‘coming of age’ – do you see this story fitting into this genre or do you see it as more than that?
It’s a little of something else. Yes, it does seem like a coming of age story but I feel like it has other elements that go beyond that genre. The film is not just for young people. The conflict within the film is something that anyone can experience at any age.
The ambiguity of Franky’s sexual identity is played throughout the film but instead of alienating his character, he feels like the most relatable. How did the evolution of Franky begin?
I don’t plot out what I write, I just start writing and over time it makes sense. I wanted to make to a film about a pure love between friends, how that innocent love can be complicated as we get older, like the friendship between these two boys. I was interested in Franky as he retains that innocence, he has that pure feeling of love. The film is really a love story between two people and there are so many versions of love to explore. Franky embodies the wholeness of love.
The film’s tag line and now it’s hashtag on social media, #LoveWithoutLabels – feels like this is the message of the film. Was this planned or did this come about after screenings?
That tag line emerged during the creation of the posters and trailers, it was consciously created.
Do you feel that the film has an overt Canadian identity?
It’s hard to see if it is as I’m of it, I’m in it [the film]. Maybe stylistically there is a Canadian sensibility. I wanted to make it universal. When we were shooting it, we wanted to make something recognisable, universal, we wanted something more. But you tell me, did it feel like it was Canadian?
Last but not least, can you tell us what you’re working on next?
I’m writing a TV series about younger people, two friends, one is being bullied until one day he snaps and kills the two bullies and he tells his only friend, now the two kids share this secret. That’s what I’m working on.
GIANT LITTLE ONES – out to download 3rd February and on DVD 10th February 2020