Another Girl: Is the Movie Based on a Real Teenager?

Allison Burnett’s ‘Another Girl’ is an indie drama film revolving around an online friendship between a troubled young girl and a perfect stranger. Elle Overton, a depressed student, reads an exceptional novel about an online blogger, Katie Kampenfelt, and becomes infatuated with her unfinished story. Searching for answers, Elle finds an email set up for a supposed Katie Kampenfelt and starts writing to her. Eventually, after Katie replies back, Elle finds herself sharing her entire life story, especially the nitty-gritty details, with Katie. As their friendship grows, Katie’s existence becomes more and more suspicious.

The film pairs contemporary drama with thriller elements and sets an eerie tone for its story from the get-go. Using the correspondence between Elle and Katie, the film depicts Elle’s past trauma while still maintaining its thematic center of online relationships and their dangers. Given the film’s realistic themes and plot points, viewers might be wondering about the story’s connection to real life. If so, here is everything you need to know about the origin of ‘Another Girl.’

Another Girl is Not a True Story

‘Another Girl’ is not based on a true story. Written and directed by Allison Burnett, the film is based on his 2015 eponymous novella. Over the years, Burnett has adapted several of his literary stories into films, self-directed or otherwise. As such, considering the novella’s and Burnett’s previous book-to-movie adaptation’s success, the inception of ‘Another Girl’ into a film was an obvious choice. Since Burnett solely made up the writing team behind the book and film, the story is entirely his own brainchild.

Although the film is not based on true events, its base premise and themes have expansive roots in reality. The film itself is a loose sequel to Burnett’s 2014 film ‘Ask Me Anything,’ starring Britt Robertson alongside Molly Hagan, Justin Long, and Martin Sheen. In turn, ‘Ask Me Anything’ is an adaptation of his 2009 novel ‘Undiscovered Gyrl.’

The two films share many thematic and narrative similarities, including the everpresent significance of Katie Kampenfelt, who occupies kindred enigmatic spaces within both stories. Nevertheless, ‘Another Girl’ still retains its ability to survive as a stand-alone while existing within the same cinematic universe as ‘Ask Me Anything.’

Literary background aside, the film’s origin also has a firm connection to real life. In the film, Elle discovers a website that contains contact information about Katie Kampenfelt, a supposedly fictional character. This instance acts as the jumping point for the rest of the film and— interestingly enough— is inspired by a real-life incident.

Following the release of ‘Undiscovered Gyrl’ and ‘Ask Me Anything,’ Katie Kampenfelt’s character garnered a cult following of fans, which led Burnett to set up a website where people can leave fan mails for Katie. Over time, the website started receiving loads of messages from young readers seeking answers and conclusions for Katie’s story. Some fans even started sharing their own life stories, unperturbed by the fact that a complete stranger was receiving those messages.

This incident inspired Burnett to write ‘Another Girl’ and explore the innate human need for communication and how it pertains to social media. The incredibly prevalent reality of catfishing, and its life-endangering possibilities, further shaped this story into a cautionary tale about the fallouts of online relationships. The Katie Kampenfelt website still exists to this day and acts as the perfect relic of ‘Another Girl’s’ real-life influence. Therefore, in that regard, the film undoubtedly draws from reality.

Furthermore, the film’s depiction of Elle’s mental health also provides a relatable element to the story. As an imperfect protagonist, who spends the bulk of the film making bad decisions, Elle’s flaws, fueled by her past trauma, surprisingly humanize her to the audience. Although Burnett himself, as a middle-aged man, shares a limited worldview with his young female lead, he’s able to tell her story with a layer of authenticity.

When discussing the potential criticism he may receive for telling a story from the perspective of a teenage girl, given his disconnect from their lived experiences, Burnett shared his belief that anyone can tell any story with enough understanding of the subject matter. “At some point, you have to have a really active imagination, but you have to really listen. I tutored high school kids for seven years. I had real relationships with these kids— boys and girls,” said Burnett in conversation with The Gary & Kenny Show.

“I listened to them [his students], we talked— we shared ideas. They told me about their lives. I was a repository for their hopes and dreams. All of that stuff is being recorded at some level that you’re not always aware of.” As such, with the help of his past experiences overseeing kids similar to Elle, Burnett effectively connected his own ideas and experiences with Elle’s character and created a story that young people might find relatable. Still, even though the film takes some inspiration from real life, it’s not based on a true story.

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