by director Miranda Bailey
Being Frank: MEANING/THESAURUS: to be “above board” – “be straightforward,” “be open,” “come clean,” “tell the truth.”
We all have our own relationship with the truth. Especially nowadays when one person’s truth is another person’s lie. Is there a middle ground? Are all lies evil or do some of us lie to protect others from heartache? These are some of the underlying themes of my film Being Frank. Besides having the opportunity to explore my own fears and pain surrounding my parents’ separation and my father moving to a new town when I was a teenager, I am also exploring forgiveness.
Frank (Jim Gaffigan) is a complex man living a double life. One life is the one he was groomed to live—following in his father’s footsteps, marrying his high school sweetheart and living in the same hometown as his family always has. In his other life he created a place and family in which he could truly be himself, not just who he was supposed to be. He should have chosen one or the other. He should have never promised two women the same thing. But he did and he couldn’t get out of it. He was stuck, so he just kept going on with both of these lives until...it blows up in his face proving him to be a lowlife, two-timing liar who loses everything he lied to protect. Frank’s reasoning may not be sane, nor understandable, but his fears of losing his family are. These are pretty deep emotions and rather than hiding from them as they peek their head into my life I prefer exploring them through laughter. Hence the Jim Gaffigan casting choice.
It’s hard not to like Jim Gaffigan, but it’s easy not to like a character who’s a philanderer. What if you find yourself identifying with the character you are taught to hate? These are the grey lines between black and white, likable or unlikeable, where I enjoy playing.
Phillip (Logan Miller) is at that critical point we all experience in our lives when we find out our parents aren't the heroes or the villains we’ve always seen them as. Our parents, we realize, are exactly like us—human. This is a scary moment in time, but it is also incredibly liberating. We watch Phillip navigate through this time in his life with an almost absurd situation that takes him directly into his father’s two lives.
Once Phillip finds out his father’s truth, it’s easy for him to go to the dark side of who his father really is and easier to try to ruin and bring him down. That is, until he begins to understand the dilemma his father put himself in and the pain it will cause the women and children his father loved, if they ever found out. Thus Phillip is thrust into the position of trying to keep his father’s lie from being exposed and hurting his siblings in another family he finds himself living in and loving as well.
Children shouldn’t be the one to parent their parents. But often times we do. After a family tragedy in my own life, I spent my childhood holding up the pillars of the tent of our family to keep it from falling apart. Ultimately I was not successful and the tent collapsed. This movie Being Frank is my way of letting go and being able to laugh and grow from the pains of the past. It is also my way to forgive not just my parents, but also myself.