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Web series filmed in Greater Victoria eyes mental health month launch

Team working to wrap up filming for World Mental Health Day on Oct. 10
Andy Marie on the set of web series Best Friend Me at The Mint restaurant in downtown Victoria. (Photo by Arnold Lim/Stigma Free Productions)

Note: This story mentions suicide. If you feel like you are in crisis or considering suicide, please call the provincial hotline at 1-800-784-2433.

A web series filmed across Greater Victoria this summer promises a little humour while tackling serious subjects.

In Best Friend Me, main character Joy rediscovers their will to live on a journey of self-healing that guides them to unexpected places. The new web series comes from Greater Victoria filmmakers Arnold Lim (producer), Ana de Lara (director) and Vancouver actor and writer Andy Marie, who plays the lead character – one 15 years in the making.

“The script is witty and the cast is fantastic,” de Lara said. “It’s a huge topic and we’re just chiselling away at it. … I think a lot of people can relate to this story.”

Best Friend Me touches on depression, a suicide attempt, alcohol use disorder, child neglect and depicts sexually intimate scenes. Tough subjects aren’t new for de Lara and Stigma Free Productions. She’s tackled potentially triggering topics such as chronic illness and suicide and domestic partner violence from the perspective of a child.

It’s a timely topic with World Mental Health Day on Oct. 10, and the team is working on wrapping final filming before heading into production for release next spring.

READ ALSO: Mind the Gap: Children in crisis

Marie plays Joy – who like the actor is non-binary using they/them pronouns – a millennial living with depression.

“It came from my own mental health journey and trying to process that,” the Vancouver-based actor said in a phone interview. “I really struggled with the writing process … everything that was the subject and content of the story, was what I was struggling with (in real life).”

They also take on two more roles – Joy’s positive and negative selves that manifest physically into people only they can see and hear. Writing started five or six years ago, with the specific goal of creating a series specifically addressing mental health – but in a fun way.

“The goal is to remind people to treat themselves with kindness as much as you treat others with kindness,” Marie said.

Filmed entirely in Greater Victoria, My Best Friend Me utilizes a corn field at Silver Rill Farm, Heritage Acres, The Mint, Victoria Family Services and the Victoria newsroom of Black Press Media.

The team is looking for one last place to film the musical episode.

“It was really fun, it was my first time acting in something that I’d written … definitely on this scale,” Marie. “It was so cool to see them bring it to life, that was the most fun. This story and this character who I play, Joy, has been in my head for a long time.”

READ ALSO: Victoria’s Courtnall brothers launch society to fund grassroots mental health programs

Working alongside their mom, director de Lara “was a positive, really cool experience” as well, Marie said. “She really helped me finish the project.”

There were stops and starts and challenges, with rewrites by both individuals along the way. In moments it was stressful, filled with bouts of self-doubt, but in the end OK to ask for help.

“That’s something I’m working on in my personal life more and more, especially in the world of indie film,” Marie said.

Marie and de Lara are not new to the indie scene with funding for this project in particular is funded entirely by the Telefilm Talent to Watch program, with support from the Women in the Director’s Chair Safer Creative Spaces (WIDC SCS) and equipment sponsorship from CineVic and Lim.

“It’s very ambitious, we’re trying to create so many magical moments with no money,” de Lara said.

My Best Friend Me is a short-form series to be released online in time for mental health awareness month in May 2024.

If you or someone you know is struggling, visit to find local mental health and crisis resources.

READ ALSO: Victoria’s Courtnall brothers launch society to fund grassroots mental health programs

Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

I'm dedicated to serving the community of Oak Bay as a senior journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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