A viral TikTok helps launch “Egghead & Twinkie” as an awaited Gen Z film

Sarah Kambe Holland had no idea that the very first TikTok she posted would grow the account from six followers to over 2 million views.

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@eggheadtwinkiefilm

just some college kids making a feature film w @maihualee #comingofage #lgbt #filmmaking #lesbian #comingout

♬ Backyard Boy – Claire Rosinkranz

Sarah Kambe Holland had no idea that the TikTok she posted on August 20 about her upcoming feature film, “Egghead & Twinkie,” would grow the account from six followers to over 143,000 followers in just a few days and eventually get over 2 million views.

“I knew that I wanted to make a TikTok for ‘Egghead & Twinkie’ because I saw the kind of community that can come from this sort of app,” said Holland, the 23-year-old writer and director of “Egghead & Twinkie.” “I saw that there’s also a lot of young people Gen Z on TikTok. So I was like, this is where our target audience is because our target audience is people between 13 and 23.” 

“Egghead & Twinkie” is a coming-of-age comedy about coming out, according to Holland. She came up with the idea for the film a few months after she came out of the closet to her parents at 19 years old. 

“It was an experience that was very fresh in my brain, and I knew that I wanted to tell a coming-out story with a more humorous angle to try to find the humor in that situation because I feel as though coming out as a process has historically been portrayed as something overwhelmingly negative in the media, as something to be afraid of,” she said.

The film follows best friends Egghead (played by Louis Tomeo, an actor best known for the recurring role of Robbie Miller on Nickelodeon’s “Every Witch Way”) and Twinkie (played by Sabrina Jie-A-Fie, a 23-year-old actor, model and singer best known for her role in the feature film, “The Corrupt Half”). 

© Courtesy Sarah Kambe Holland. Twinkie (Sabrina Jie-A-Fa) laughs at her best friend, Egghead (Louis Tomeo), after he tries to kiss her.

After Twinkie comes out to her parents, the two go on a road trip to find Twinkie’s online crush, B.D., who is played by Maihua Lee, an actress and social media personality who creates LGBTQ content for a social media audience of more than 2 million followers. She recently made her acting debut in the feature film, “The Art of Being Loved.” 

During Holland’s senior year of undergrad at the University of Central Florida, she had the opportunity to make a 10-minute capstone film, giving her the opportunity to turn “Egghead & Twinkie” into a short film. She submitted the short to the Woman Making A Scene International Film Competition last year and won best film, best director and best editing, as well as $36,000 to produce the feature film. 

© Courtesy Sarah Kambe Holland. Director Sarah Holland gives actress Sabrina Jie-A-Fa some direction while shooting the short film “Egghead and Twinkie” on October 14, 2018.

The film is currently in the preproduction phase, according to Holland. Filming was supposed to begin in July, but the coronavirus pandemic pushed it back. The film is slated to come out in 2022, and a lot of people are now excited after watching the TikTok. 

“Do you like ‘Scott Pilgrim,’ ‘The Half of It’ and ‘Little Miss Sunshine?’ Well if all of those films had a baby, you would kinda sort of have my movie,” said Holland. With no connections in the film industry, Holland used the TikTok post to make an elevator pitch, which included colorful and stylized footage from the short, fun graphics and catchy audio. She asked people to interact with the post to be able to show investors that people are interested in this type of movie.

With over 760,000 likes and over 25,000 comments, the first TikTok on the @eggheadtwinkiefilm account was successful. Comments like “this is a movie I’d love to see and one we need,” “I can’t wait to watch this” and “this sounds amazing” mean a lot to Holland because a huge reason she made this film was from feeling underrepresented and feeling like she didn’t see her story reflected on screen, she said.

Nineteen-year-old TikTok creator @Hutch.the.kid said the @eggheadtwinkiefilm TikTok came up on their TikTok’s For You Page. Hutchison, who is nonbinary and gay, said that using TikTok as promotion on a platform made up of entirely Gen Z is unique, especially when it’s described as a coming-out comedy.

“When I think of a coming-out movie, it’s always been done with the perspective that it’s a super dark and scary time – which it totally can be,” Hutchison said. “However, I like the idea of playing to the excitement and humorously messy experiences that come with discovering one’s self.” 

One of the film’s biggest comedic inspirations comes from the film “Juno,” according to Holland, who compared Egghead and Twinkie’s witty, dry humor to a Ping-Pong match that goes back and forth. As for the names of Egghead and Twinkie, Holland said she gets asked about them a lot. She said Egghead is a slang term for a nerdy person and Twinkie is commonly used as an insult for an Asian-American person who is culturally very white.

“Twinkie’s the kind of person that would take a word that might have been used to hurt her by other people and she’s gonna take that and flip it on its head and embrace it, and I thought that that said a lot about her character,” Holland said. “I think it also plays into her background being adopted and being the one Asian or nonwhite person in her community growing up.”

“I’m really excited to portray a character that is not only of mixed race, but is gay and adopted,” said Jie-A-Fie, who described the Gen Z audience as trailblazing. “We’re opening up about mental illness, about being a part of the LGBTQ community, about so many different things that some adults are really uncomfortable speaking about.”

Lee, a 19-year-old social media star, content creator and actor, is very familiar with the TikTok platform. Lee creates daily content for her 2.3 million TikTok followers. But with this film, Lee wants the audience to see that she is more than the numbers she has on social media, she said. But she knows her fans are very excited about the film. 

Lee said that the algorithm on TikTok is very up and down, but making relatable content is a key factor in going viral and attracting the audience for the movie. “I used to relate more to characters on TV screens than I did with people in my real life,” Lee said, who is a member of the LBGTQ+ community. “So if I can help bring that with this feature film, I would love it.”

Hutchison said that not only did the @eggheadtwinkiefilm TikTok highlight a movie that reflects Gen Z, it allowed Gen Z to see what’s going on behind the scenes of a movie for Gen Z, by Gen Z. “We get to boost our fellow creators, offer support and then watch their projects grow.”

Using TikTok as a platform for filmmakers holds a lot of possibilities, especially for indie filmmakers, according to Holland. “We’re directly speaking to the people that we’re trying to sell the movie to.” 

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