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CUFFED: Love and romance is a game for fools, and the game always has consequences.

Whenever you take a chance with dating, there's always a risk. Will I get my heart broken? Are they playing me? What do I bring to the table, and what's there to gain or learn from this relationship? In society today, dating is a whole new ballgame that has proven to not be for the weak. There’s a certain beauty to the strategy, finesse, and management that comes with dating an individual (or even multiple suitors at once). Some play the long game while others hop from connection to connection in hopes of finding that one thing that fulfills their needs. So what do you get when you mix the hopefulness of finding the right partner and a romantic game of chess? ; CUFFED. A new short film by Cinnamon Brown Entertainment explores how men and women navigate dating in the 21st century and brings to life the impact of “f**boi culture” that could be part of your next romantic relationship. 

Meet Bryan, a conniving 30-year-old bachelor who seems to have it all; financially established, rugged good looks, solid friends, and a stable career. Some would agree that this is all you need right? But what happens when you pull back the curtain? At first glance he’s got it all together, however, things quickly take a turn as he gets more than he bargained for when he becomes involved with a nice woman who also has her agenda. Based on true events, you’ll laugh and surely relate to your own dating life as Bryan goes from “King of the Hill” to down and out. Though the film initially focuses on the male perspective, you can appreciate the performances from the other female cast members who illustrate the very true fact that “it ain’t fun unless we all get some”. Bryan may think that he is getting over, but how does that measure up when women can play the game just as well, if not better? You’ll be sure to soon find out what it’s like to get a taste of your own medicine.  

CUFFED (available now on Vimeo) first premiered in Richmond, Virginia with an explosive turnout. Without any immediate expectations, I soon discovered that this film was not only visually enjoyable but also struck home with a well-deserved standing ovation and appreciation for the film's authenticity and well-crafted storyline during an interactive Q&A session with the cast and crew.

I caught up with Eric Brown, writer and mastermind of CUFFED as well as Ethan Evans, the director of the film in addition to other notable projects such as This is Black and Bottom of the Plot. Read more below as we discuss the film's success, the age of “f**boi culture” and what’s next for the duo in 2024. 

This film is based on true events. Do you plan on keeping that as a running theme in your next project?

Eric: There’s some opportunity there for sure. I’m currently working on a new project called Toxic that basically pieces together the stories of different men I’ve met over the years who’ve shared how they got played and I just put it together into 1 story that sort of sums up some of those similar experiences. I think the audience will appreciate another installment of bringing real life to the big screen with Toxic.

In your experience, where do you think toxic masculinity and toxic femininity come from?  Catching up with some of the audience members post-show, many people could relate to the games we play when we’re dating and how that ultimately can create toxic partners who will use others to advance their agendas. 

Eric: It depends. In my life, I’ve watched a major transition in the dating world. What some may call “toxic masculinity” has always been there. The “f**boi” phenomenon really doesn’t have much to do with masculinity, it’s more effeminate nowadays where we’ve flipped the dynamic so that women are taking care of men as opposed to more traditional relationships where that’s reversed. Men are moving into a house, getting comfortable, and doing the bare minimum while the woman is taking care of the bills as the provider and leading the house.  

I wouldn’t call it “toxic masculinity”. I’d say it's the feminization of men because I’ve known men who’ve turned down opportunities to be captive because of that old-school mindset where men have to take care of themselves and do their own thing out of a sign of self-respect. On the converse for women, what I’m finding is the whole “I’m a player” and the “I’m a Hot-girl”. From my perspective (you know, I’m an old cat), the big problem is (in all honesty) that I’ve watched most women over the years gravitate toward a certain type of dude and so they cluster around him and get played. So by 30-35, they start to turn kind of mean or bitter because they haven’t invested any time in someone normal or decent, so it’s almost like a getback - which spreads that toxicity. You have people who haven’t done anything wrong but are getting the brunt of that, which is very toxic. It isn’t the toxicity of men so much as it is the feminization of men which fuels some of that toxic behavior. Things like "I got to be cute, I have to look good, I have to be on my girls arm looking good."

Traditionally for me, women wanted a more rugged man with rough hands who could fight and could build something, but that’s not a requirement anymore. Women nowadays may say “If you don’t have soft hands, I don’t want you”, so things have definitely changed.  

Ethan: It was similar for me growing up. You know I’m 35 but I remember my mother saying things like “A woman doesn’t want a man who can’t work around the house, can’t work on the car, can’t protect her, you know what I mean?” So, the idea of toxic masculinity in this film is like flipped. The man is taking on what the woman's role is perceived as.

What drove you toward the title “CUFFED”?

Eric: Originally it was going to be called  “Day in the Life of a f**boi” I changed it to CUFFED because I thought would be a problem marketing it, but it tested so well with women that I really wanted to keep it. When I was asking the males to read for the part with the original title they felt that it was disparaging and insulting, which was a bit hilarious. I wanted to go with either CUFFED or CUFFING SEASON and I thought CUFFED would be perfect to set it apart and garner questions about where the title came from but originally it was supposed to be called “Day in the Life of a f**boi”. 

Ethan: CUFFED is just a softer title for sure.

Is this your first film? If so, how are you feeling now that the movie is a buzz?

Eric: This is my first short feature film. I’m really excited and want to do more projects at this point. I’m glad there's a buzz about it and some discussion.

Ethan: For me, this is not my first film. I’m a director for hire so I’ve worked on plenty of other projects. I’m excited about this project too and working with Eric has been a blessing and the buzz that is starting to circulate can get to you. I’m starting to feel the fame and I’m just grateful to keep it going and to keep pushing forward.

Your film highlights the current dating climate and how easy it is to get caught up in someone else's drama. As fans may soon learn, things can get messy real fast. What do you hope fans will take away from this project?

 Eric: My biggest hope is for people to learn to spot game. So both movies, CUFFED the series and Toxic will be entertaining yes but also you have to learn to spot game, and a lot of people aren’t taught that. When I started learning about the concept of a f**boi, I didn’t know about it until I was in my late 30s. When I started talking to the women doing this to find out what was going on, I started seeing a whole movement and that’s what I mean with the feminization of men coming up 15-20 years ago and I started noticing it where the dynamic was flipped where women just weren’t equipped to spot game. Not necessarily saying that these women were in rough relationships, it’s all about the game and letting the woman believe she is in a relationship and the outcome of that way of thinking. In the converse of that, I’ve seen dudes be a player and not even realize the game that is being run on them in the process. So it’s kind of like putting people on game, but also entertaining them at the same time so people can see that on the screen and say to themselves “Wow that’s happened to me and I didn’t even recognize that”. I kind of what them to laugh but also enjoy the feeling of “Boy..I dodged that bullet”. 

Ethan: I agree with you, Eric. My thing as a director is the importance of putting people on game because when I accepted the project I knew we were giving away the secrets. From a visual standpoint, I want people to have this nostalgic feel. There’s another movie that we reference a lot from and I want people to pick up on that and be like “Oh yeah! I remember this from that movie.”

Left to right: Eric Brown (Writer), Sasha Perea (Emcee/Host)

You mentioned at the premiere Q&A that CUFFED has the potential to become a series. What can people expect next?

Eric: It’s definitely an idea we’re working through to make CUFFED into a series based on true events in the future. People can expect more laughs and more relatability but have more projects in the works. 

At the brunch, I asked a question about the possibility of this expanding to the female perspective. Do you anticipate that people will be excited to see similar life stories play out on the screen from that perspective?

Eric: I think people will enjoy the female side just as much as the male side. Again, the secrets of the game are out. Women are playing the game just as well as the men so the scales have been tipped a bit.

At the premiere, people shared stories about their own experiences and could relate to the plot and the characters of CUFFED. Can you or have either of you related to any of your characters?

Eric: I think I relate to them in a more tactical way to approaching dating if I were in their shoes, and I wrote it that way. I’m very analytical and if you’re going to be a “f**boi”, be the best one you can be. I wrote it from the perspective of if you’re going to do it, do it right. That was my mentality in approaching it. 

Ethan: I related to Bryan specifically, especially when I was younger. I look back and say to myself “Yeah..i’ve done that” or “I’ve been there before”. Reading the script I could relate a lot to the story. Now that I’m older, the whole film is not just relatable but also makes sense of a lot of men and their mentality when it comes to dating at a certain age. 

Watch “CUFFED” now available on Vimeo

Connect With Eric

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