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An Interview with Phil Stevens, Director of Flowers

by Mike Haberfelner

September 2013

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Your upcoming movie Flowers - in a few words, what is it about?

 

Flowers is an abstract, surreal horror film centering around six dead women who wake up in the crawl space below their killer's house only to discover that they are trapped in their own limbo and purgatory.

Iím labeling it an art-house flick because it truly is a speciality film for a very particular niche of people. So if you like films like Eraserhead and Tetsuo: The Iron Man, this is for you.

 

What were your inspirations when writing Flowers?

 

About four years back I hit that wall which reads UNINSPIRED. In short, I got bored with what I was doing and I had to find new ways of approaching projects with enthusiasm. If youíre not having fun with what youíre doing, you should probably just stop.

I searched around for new writing techniques and eventually found this interesting little pattern called the ď8 segment structureĒ. Essentially you are just creating 8 short segments or short films that all tie into one another to create a bigger film. How cool is that? One segment ends and transitions into another and so on. I found that to be a lot of fun in the writing process itself.

I began toying with a way to create 8 short films that would make up a larger film. My instincts immediately went to 8 rooms of a house, the house being that whole that ties it all together. THAT was where Flowers came from. It inspired itself as I took each room of a house and found ways to create unique scenes and scenarios to take place within them that could flow into the next.

 

As far as I know, there will be no spoken dialogue in Flowers - why is that, and what are the challenges but maybe also advantages of filming a movie this way?

 

To be honest. I hate dialog. I hate writing it and I hate recording it. As a filmmaker, working on a film, it drives me insane to kill so much time and energy working on one or two lines. As an illustrator, Iím more prone to telling my stories visually without the aid of words or dialog. Thatís fun for me. It all goes back to personal taste and what iím willing to spend my time and money working on. I want to SEE Mr.X go fishing rather than HEAR him say ďHey, Iím going fishing.Ē

 

My first film Below Man had dialog but not enough for most people and my second film Frank Edge jr had about 50% less dialog than the first film. Through the process of evolution, I just relied on dialog less and less till eventually I got to Flowers where dialog never even crossed my mind when writing the script.

I think the challenges really rest heavy on the audience who are not really prepared to sit through a quiet film without dialog. Itís alien. Unfamiliar. Silence in a film can really pull you out of the experience. I think silence can be awkward for people even if they are just watching a movie or sitting on a bench with another human being. We live in the age of IMAX 3D and Micheal Bay action flicks! Louder, bigger, better! We thrive on that shit.

 

In come the advantages. Love it or hate it, you will remember it. For me the advantages is really in just having no sound equipment or dealing with the whole frustrating affair of recorded LIVE sound. Once you wipe the audio track away, you are completely free to create an entirely new and experimental soundscape. Again, taking a picture and painting it with audio is just a lot of fun for me.

 

What can you tell us about the overall look and feel of your movie, and how does your work as an artist influence your filmmaking style?

 

As a traditional artist with a pen in his hand, Iím all visuals which goes hand in hand with the lack of dialog. Pictures donít talk but they can speak to us on a different level all the same.

 

The look of the film is dirt and darkness. We literally have girls crawling through dirt in the dark. The entire film is just coated in layers of decay due to the film taking place inside a rotted out farm house. Itís a desolate, lonely place with a lot of shadows and narrow corridors. Places where bad things happened, violent things - and we as an audience see the aftermath of that violence.

 

What can you tell us about your cast, and why exactly these people?

 

My cast is amazing. Period. I tend to throw people in uncomfortable scenarios and situations due to the kind of films I like to make. I couldnít wish for a better cast because every single one of them are multi-talented artists who also double as my crew. I set out to create a team of like minded individuals who could help in the creation of this project in various areas. I love being able to say ďThis is OUR film.Ē The passion and dedication to this project from the beginning has been unreal. As a dude who was used to wearing all the hats and running all aspects of production on previous films, you donít take a group of people like this for granted. Each is valuable to the cause. Itís how these types of films succeed. Absolute team work and 1000% passion and dedication.

 

Now I suppose for a film like yours the perfect location is/the perfect sets are of paramount importance. So what can you tell us about yours?

 

My script called for an extremely elaborate setup. I had to have girls come out of floors, travel between walls and under the house. It was extremely important to the shooting of this thing that these places/locations/scenes had total filming access as well as the right look. It hasnít been easy but we were able to be practical about it. I was able to get what the script called for by creating one massive structure that contained all the sets. Basically we built a mini-house on a soundstage and itís worked out great so far. At times, completely bizarre and surreal to work in an environment like that but itís the nature of this project.

 

As we speak, the film is still in production, right? So how far along is it, and any idea when it might be released yet?

 

Correct, the film is still in production till late September/early October with a hopeful, YET optimistic release date somewhere in December if not early 2014.

 

Any future projects past Flowers?

 

Of course, thereís always this need to keep the momentum going in some form. Right now, my creative energy is committed to Flowers so I canít even really say what's next. Weíve been discussing a lot of neat and new films to produce but the definitive answer to the question will manifest itself sometime in the next few months.

 

What got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal education on the subject?

 

As a kid, I was always in the video store trolling around in the horror section. One day my father let me mess around with an old Betamax camera and I instantly fell in love with making movies. Before the camera I just made comics for myself, so the leap from paper to screen was a true revelation. I did not attend film school for a number of reasons. I think for the most part, I just wasnít interested. I wanted to keep making movies in my free time without it becoming something resembling homework? Iím sure there were and still are a million things to learn about this craft but I prefer my way. Trial and error. Hands-on experience. 

 

The closet thing to education in the subject was my first film Below Man. A project that took me three years to make. With that came a lot of trial and error. A massive learning experience all around. Iím grateful for that period in my life and it costs me nothing.

 

What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Flowers?

 

Iíve done a lot of things but iíve never stopped myself from experimenting. Iím avoiding going into details because itís a vast list which I feel is divided by new eras of my life. Phil the child filmmaker - phil the teenage filmmaker - phil the adult filmmaker. A new mutation of me as a filmmaker and the films I do seems to occur every 10 years or so. Each project was always important and precious to me in the time and space in which is occurred, something like a relationship, building upon the last while always learning, maturing. I wouldnít be able to make a film like Flowers today had it not been for the countless projects that preceded it.

 

You of course also have to talk about Phil Stevens the artist/illustrator for a bit, and how would you describe your style, and what do you draw upon for inspiration?

 

Iím a quiet dude. I wish I had something more insightful to say about myself but Iím simple (though some could argue against that). I enjoy sitting somewhere alone with a sketchpad with some music in my ears doodling away. Thatís happiness to me. A slice of peace. My style of art has been best described as a ďpossessed childĒ, the work you expect from that creepy kid who sits in the back of the class. For the most part I draw from my own emotions. I used to write in a journal every day and after years of writing in that journal I discovered I had less and less to write about. I turned to a sketchpad and decided to use visuals to vent. Each picture representing a day in my life. Feelings, people, places, thoughts and ideas.

 

How would you describe yourself as a director?

 

Sadist. Hehe. I donít know how to honestly answer that. Iíd like to think Iím calm, patient, easy and fun to work with. I hope. Iím determined and willing to do almost anything to get what I need to get the vision out of my head and onto that screen. Almost anything.

 

Filmmakers, artists, whatever else who inspire you?

 

Filmmakers Shinya Tsukamoto, David Lynch, JŲrg Buttgereit, Lars Von Trier and Takashi Miike have always been inspiring to me for their attitude against making films. They make the films they wanted to make without having to answer for them. Films that alienated audiences but somehow found their places in cinema. Robert Rodriquez - who any filmmaker on the planet can relate to and identify with really inspired me and gave me the confidence to go at film with an open mind while reminding myself to always have fun in adventures. (READ his book Rebel Without A Crew. If youíre an indie filmmaker, itíll change your life.)

DIGGING deeper, underground cinema as whole is where I seem to really float. Filmmakers like Ronnie Sortor, Todd Reynolds, Andy Copp, Eric Stanze [Eric Stanze interview - click here], Fred Vogel and Adam Rehmeir have had a more personal impact on me as they have always given me sound advice at some point or another and knew which direction to point me in when it came to my own exploits in film. Mentors of sorts. The wisdom. The Jedi of indie film. The examples and what you CAN DO with micro/no budget films.

 

Your favourite movies?

 

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Find Phil Stevens
at the amazons ...

USA  amazon.com

Great Britain (a.k.a. the United Kingdom)  amazon.co.uk

Germany (East AND West)  amazon.de

Looking for imports ?
Find Phil Stevens here ...

Thailand  eThaiCD.com
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Something naughty ?
(Must be over 18 to go there !)

x-rated  find Phil Stevens at adultvideouniverse.com

George Romeroís Day of the Dead, Dellamorte Dellamore, Man Bites Dog, Maniac, Der Todesking.

 

... and of course, films you really deplore?

 

Half-assed, mass produced Hollywood comedies.

 

Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?

 

MY NEW FILM -

Facebook.com/Flowersthemovie

twitter.com/FLOWERStheFilm

Flowersthefilm.com

 

MY ART -

manomatul.deviantart.com

Facebook.com/TheArtOfManomatul

 

PERSONAL -

instagram.com/phillipstevensmoviemaker

 

Anything else you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?

 

I wanted to mention how completely fucking honored I am to have had an opportunity to do this interview with you Michael. Thank you. Truly.

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD

 

 

Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Tršume ...

 

Und an diesem Tag geht natŁrlich wieder einmal die Welt unter!!!

 

Bauliche Angelegenheiten
ein Roman von
Michael Haberfelner

 

Jetzt kaufen bei
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