It’s a new era for the world of entertainment with Creator+.
The new studio and distribution platform aims to produce feature-length films in partnership with digital creators to monetize their existing audience and beyond across mobile, web and connected-TV. And their first official project, ‘Diamond in the Rough’ comes out this week as a maiden voyage for the new company. Produced by and starring social media star and business mogul Griffin Johnson (Jason) along with the leading lady, actress Samantha Boscarino (Ariana), the new feature takes a look at some quintessential formulas for comedies, romantic storylines and coming of age tales—and then adds in a little more flair to coincide with changing times.
In ‘Diamond in the Rough’ Ariana’s Tio George, gifts her with a summer membership to an upscale country club, where she meets a slew of interesting characters—some more welcoming than others. Through the course of the film, Ariana decides that the typical norm at the venue needs to evolve, much like we all do in life. With some help (and some drama) from Jason, the duo navigate the murky waters of Country Club society with some hilarious moments and a star-studded cast along the way to help drive the story home.
Griffin Johnson and Samantha Boscarino sat down to chat more about the experience.
Griffin, you’ve built most of your career through social media and business. What made you want to get into acting?
Johnson: I kind of think of my career as pillars…business is one, social media is one, and acting was another pillar I wanted to make sure I could hit. It’s a challenge, and I love a good challenge. It’s a great way to transition my audience into a longer-form version of content. I just wanted to make sure I hit that pillar, and I had a lot of fun [doing it.]
Samantha, what about this film or character made you want to sign on?
Boscarino: I really loved the script, I thought it was a fun romantic comedy. It kind of reminded me of the films I watched growing up…the Amanda Bynes sort of throwback, fun, lighthearted comedies. And I loved the character. She was a super cool, sassy girl who was very strong headed. You were meeting her in this place where she didn’t know what was going on, and you kind of get to see her coming of age journey. I [also] loved Jeannette (Godoy), our director, I really connected with her. It felt like a good storm.
A lot of the film centers around the relationship your characters develop. How was it working on that chemistry both on and off-screen?
Boscarino: It’s funny, we both came on to this project very quickly, it felt kind of last minute. We met I think after the table read, [but] Griffin and I connected really naturally….we had a lot of fun being on set, it just felt kind of effortless. Griffin is a very lighthearted jokester, he’s very open and makes you feel comfortable, so it was very easy to find that chemistry.
Johnson: You can even see from this call that for Sam and me, it was easy for us to connect. We are both I would say very comfortable people and from the moment we met, I’d crack a few jokes and then after that it was pretty much over. We had a great natural chemistry, so that made it super easy and luckily it went out flawlessly.
The setting, which was gorgeous, also plays a huge part in the film. Do you have any memories from set that stand out?
Boscarino: It was so much fun. I do feel like it captured—even our dance sequence at the bar and the party at the end—everything [beautifully.] The cast was just so great and funny and everyone connected really easily. We filmed in LA, which also is a gift. It’s not very often you get to shoot where you’re from.
Johnson: I think the scenery was obviously super gorgeous, but, one of my favorite things was actually the weather. During the day it would be 80 degrees and you would be sweating in a T-shirt, but then at night it would get chilly—one night it was even snowing. The climate was diverse and a little bit challenging. I think I remember at one point, my teeth were chattering so bad that I had to calm my internal self down and bring myself warmth before doing the scene. It was interesting and it was challenging, but it was also super fun and funny. We all bonded by putting on fake winter jackets and huddling up around heaters. It was a good time.
Griffin, on that note, was there anything else about acting or its challenges that surprised you?
Johnson: Luckily, Jason was a character that I resonated with. He’s slightly goofy and charming—but not in a way that he knows he’s being charming. I don’t know, it was just a very easy character for me to play. I felt really comforted going into it and it was actually kind of just me…so, I think it could have been a lot more challenging if it wasn’t a character that I resonated with so much. I was just able to have a lot of fun with this and develop Jason into a character that’s similar to myself.
Is there anything you both hope audiences take away from ‘Diamond in the Rough?’
Boscarino: Definitely. I think one of the things that I loved about Ariana was [that] she was very determined. But I think as you see over the course of the film, you see her be able to harness that strong will she has into affecting change that matters. She gets kind of caught up in the petty stuff, but eventually, she’s able to use her wit and her intellect for positive change. I think if there’s anything fans can take away, it’s not being afraid to change the norm and question things. I think [that’s] always a good message.
Johnson: I would say with this film, you’ll see and hear some things that are very culturally aware. I think something that’s interesting is with the amount of content that’s being produced and digested by audiences now, it’s really important to understand that people are looking more for authenticity—and they can see through things that aren’t authentic. I think this film is aware of some of the issues and traditions that have been followed in the past, and it just makes fun of them and shows that things are changing and developing. I think when people watch this film they’re gonna notice that and they’re going to appreciate the fact that the film is able to recognize those [tropes] and bring light to them. If I were going to tell anyone to take anything away, it would just be to watch and see how authentic this film [is] and how it was produced and brought together—because it’s super cool.
‘Diamond in the Rough’ releases (but is available to preorder) on Creator+ June 29.