Your new movie April
Flowers - in a few words, what is it about?
It's about a woman that finds an anonymous diary on the subway. She
uses clues within the journal in an attempt to track down the author. But,
as is usually the case, things get complicated.
sources of inspiration when writing April
Flowers, and is any of this based on personal experience/people
The plot isn't based on any personal experience
per se, I was riding on the subway one night a few years back and for
whatever reason the idea of finding someone's journal popped into my mind.
That was the initial seed. But you could say the themes of love and
commitment were based on personal experience. For instance, the
conversation about Midnight Train to Georgia actually happened.
To what extent can you actually identify with
April and her philosophy - or with any of the other protagonists,
This is the question I receive the most.
"Are you April?" I can identify with all the major characters in
some way. I think each character represents a different angle of the idea
"what is love" and when I write I typically try to argue with my
preconceived notion in an attempt to either confirm or change my opinion
in some way, and hopefully, to minimally, empathize. Personally, I can
relate to April's idealism and hope, Laura's practicality, Jared's
insecurity, and Mr. X's nostalgia and optimism.
Do talk about April
Flowers' brand of humour for a bit!
Haha, it's dry.
I remember having a reading of it in NYC a few years back and thinking,
"why didn't that get a laugh?" I'm often the one laughing
loudest at my "jokes". I guess I would call the humor
"subtle". Comedy is tough.
Flowers is mostly set in Astoria, Queens - why, and what was it
like filming there?
I've lived in Astoria for 15 years,
originally from the Detroit-area. But thematically it made sense to film
there because April is the type of character that kind of hides in the big
city. Queens seemed appropriate. And it's much easier to film in Queens,
and even Brooklyn, than Manhattan. We actually only shot one scene in
Manhattan and even that was an adventure. The only issue we had in Astoria
was dealing with the bridge noise while filming in Astoria Park. But we
had an amazing sound mixer so we were able to work it out.
What can you tell us about your
overall directorial approach to your story at hand?
was... evolving. Haha. I learned so much from this production, and my
directorial approach evolved along the way. I had never worked with such
experienced actors so it really wasn't until half-way through the shoot
that I realized I didn't need to tip-toe around my vision. I was
absolutely intimidated, but they were all such good people that they never
showed any frustration or impatience with me. In a way I suppose I was
under their tutelage. In the same respect, our amazing cinematographer,
Eugene Koh, guided me as well. And it was pure, they literally helped me
realize my vision, not theirs. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
Flowers features Keir Dullea from the legendary 2001: A Space
Odyssey - now what was it like filming with him, and how did you get
So I mentioned I was intimidated, right? Wow, I
was literally shaking when Keir and his wife Mia, she plays Mrs. Moore in
the film and gives the most emotional monologue, anyhow, they met me at a
coffee shop to discuss coming aboard. We had mutual friends but had never
met, and it was those friends that reached out to them and sent the
script. They genuinely liked the script and the first meeting was very
comfortable. We got along well. As for working with Keir, he is such a
gentle industry giant. The day we filmed with him it was outside and quite
cold. We were an ultra-low budget so there were NO comforts on set. He
acted as though it was expected, and maybe it was, but still... he has a
way of making those around him comfortable. And he was prepared, of
course. I mean, he asked questions about every single detail, it was a
master class in character study, and I imagine that comes from this
The titular character of April
Flowers is played by Celina Jade, who has so far actually been
better known for her action roles - so do talk about the idea behind that
choice, and about working with her?
Again, because we were
an ultra-low budget we knew we'd need to find the right angle to attract
talent. When I took a step back I realized the lead could be of any race,
and since it's well documented that minority actors don't exactly get a
lot of lead roles, especially female minority actors, I began putting a
list together. Celina was at the top of the list and it was our hope that
a cross-over role would appeal to her. It did. She loved the character and
related to April in a number of ways, some that I found quite surprising,
like an introverted nature, which you'd never know from meeting her. Her
manager and agent were naturally skeptical of me being a first time
filmmaker, but they really liked the script and worked with me to make it
Do talk about the
rest of your cast, and why exactly these people?
Fletcher has been a friend for a number of years. My cousin, Chuck Gale,
is a director, and had Jon in his acting class. I've always respected
Jon's talent, and after Jon earned the lead role in CW's The
it was a no-brainer. He was the first one onboard. And talk about someone
that prepares, Jon worked his butt off. Kate Middleton was recommended by
one of our other producers, Montserrat Mendez. As soon as he read the
script he said that he knew an actress that WAS Laura, and soon after we
met with Kate. She is lovely, and talented and, I think, related to the
character in an honest way. I couldn't imagine anyone else in that role,
and I'm grateful she accepted it. I had worked with Sean Cullen on a short
film that Jon Fletcher produced, and had him in mind from the beginning or
pre-production. I was so happy he agreed, and he recommended Gannon McHale
join the cast as well, which was perfect for the Irish Bartender.
can you tell us about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
was better than I ever could have anticipated. It was relaxed, and fun, I
mean, I'm not the type of person to enjoy "the moment"
so-to-speak. Too stressed, so usually it's in retrospect, but I jumped out
of bed every morning, excited to get to set. One of the best compliments
we received was from our AD Jesse Tender. At the wrap-up-party he said the
shoot "renewed his faith in indie film." It really was that
good, and the pessimist in me wonders if it's something that could ever be
replicated. I hope to find out.
$64-question of course, when and where will the film be released onto the
easier to answer for international viewers. We signed with Summerside
International and they're screening the film at this year's European Film
Market and selling to all foreign territories. Domestically, in the
we'll have an official announcement in the next two weeks. But it'll be
around Valentine's Day and most likely on VOD platforms like Amazon and on
Apple TV and Roku through Vimeo. There's a chance we still get theatrical,
which would be a Valentine's weekend release and would push back our VOD
release, but that's looking more and more unlikely.
Anything you can tell us about audience
and critical reception of April
So far only the cast and crew, my
family, and reviewers have seen the film. It's been really well received
although most of those are biased, hahaha! But so far our reviews have been
solid, and even interest from distributors has been excellent, but they
don't love the genre and there's not much we can do about that.
Any future projects you'd like to
I'm involved in helping produce S.M. Kerstein's next
feature film, and I have another feature screenplay entitled Covet that I'm seeking financing for at the moment. It's very
different from April
Flowers though, more of a surrealistic adventure that
has been referenced as being "Blue Velvet meets Princess Bride."
I don't completely agree with that but I like it.
What got you into filmmaking in the first place,
and did you receive any formal education on the subject?
formal education, I started writing screenplays in college and just kept
teaching myself. After moving to New York City I began producing my own
short films, and also produced some commercial work through my career in
marketing. I left my career five years ago to write and develop
screenplays and produce shorts and features. I'm having the time of my
can you tell us about your filmwork prior to April
I've produced a number of short films,
co-directed a few, and also produced commercial videos. I've really only
had one short film "success." It was a film entitled That's Life and it won some awards on the festival circuit. We
had a really talented cast culled from the theatre out here in Michael
Malizia and Kersti Bryan. And it was directed by my cousin, Chuck Gale.
That short still inspires me.
How would you describe yourself as a
I suppose I'd say I'm curious. I have a very
particular vision but I'm also constantly exploring to gain other
viewpoints and see if it's better, no, not better, more interesting. I'm a
collaborator in that respect.
Filmmakers who inspire you?
Lean, Orson Wells, David Lynch, Hitchcock... and indie filmmakers. I love
seeing first-time works, they typically have a voice you don't see in
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
I'm a classics guy. Citizen Kane,
Godfather, Amadeus... it's a long list.
... and of course, films you really
Also a long list, hahaha! I must have been in a
really bad mood when I saw the film Elephant. It's the only
bad review I felt compelled to log into IMDb to post about.
Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever
Anything else you're trying to mention and I have
merely forgotten to ask?
I think we covered everything.
Great interview. Thank you for letting me talk about myself, hahaha!
Thanks for the interview!