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An Interview with Stephen David Brooks, Director of Flytrap

by Mike Haberfelner

June 2016

Films directed by Stephen David Brooks on (re)Search my Trash

 

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Your new movie Flytrap - in a few words, what is it about?

 

Paranoia. It’s about the people we pass every day as we walk down the street, our neighbors, the clerk in a shop. What do we really know about them. Who are they? What are they capable of?

 

Flytrap is a pretty wild genre mix, blending a hostage situation with science fiction, dark comedy with paranoia mainstays - so do talk about that unique genre mix of Flytrap for a bit!

 

For me genre comes from the original concept. The sci-fi/hostage situation came logically from the original premise. The paranoia angle really came from the character of James Pond. It’s his worldview. A scientific fact-based world view that is lacking in real world human qualities. So he’s naturally curious and also naturally paranoid about things he doesn’t understand.

 

(Other) sources of inspiration when writing Flytrap?

 

Well I’m always influenced by other films. For Flytrap I drew inspiration from Stanley Kubrick. You will see distinct influences from The Shining and oddly enough Barry Lyndon. My other great inspiration is Andrei Tarkovsky. In particular his film Stalker. Which is somewhat opaque in parts and requires the audience to read into the motivations of the characters. Tarkovsky once said: “Never try to convey your idea to the audience, it is a thankless and senseless task. Show them life, and they’ll find within themselves the means to assess and appreciate it.”

Now I couldn’t make Flytrap completely opaque as it still needed to appeal to mainstream audiences. But there are Tarkovsky touches in the film if you look for them.

 

A few words about Flytrap's very own brand of humour?

 

It’s a family thing. I can only describe it as Brooks humor. My father had it. My uncle had it. My cousins have it. My cousin’s son has it! There must be some odd genetic mutation that has been passed down from generation to generation.

 

What can you tell us about your directorial approach to your story at hand?

 

Immediacy. I want the audience to feel that they were in the room with these characters. Trapped looking for a way out. I wanted the audience to feel James Pond’s creeping sense of dread and his claustrophobia.

 

Do talk about your cast, and why exactly these people?

 

Well I first worked with Jeremy Crutchley in Johannesburg South Africa many years ago on my first professional writing job, an adaptation of a Stephen King short story called The Mangler. Jeremy is a huge star in South Africa. I told him after the first day on set that one day he would star in a film for me. I didn’t think it would take this long. But sometimes good things take time.

 

Ina-Alice Kopp is attached to another film in the pipeline. I met her through the producer of that film. Once I had cast Jeremy Ina’s image immediately popped into my mind as the perfect Mary Ann. Her acting style is completely opposite that of Jeremy and I think that added an authenticity to their interaction.

 

Billy ‘Sly’ Williams has been in my last 3 films. He starred in my feature directing/writing debut Heads N TailZ and my short Binky. So it was natural to cast him in Flytrap. Billy and I are like Scorsese and DeNiro. We have a shorthand way of working together that is almost psychic.

 

Jonah Blechman was a gift from the casting gods. Well, specifically, from Stanzi Stokes who also represents Ina. In fact Stanzi found all the remaining cast members. Her taste in talent is extraordinary.

 

I just have to make you talk about the unfittingly colourful dresses of your lead actress Ina-Alice Kopp for a bit, which fit the movie quite so well - so care to elaborate, and who chose them, actually, and were they designed especially for Flytrap?

 

I have to give Ina credit for the dresses. She found them on a website. They come in a variety of colors and patterns. I loved the idea that Mary Ann changes outfits so often, yet always to the same basic dress design. Just a different color scheme. It helps show her evolution as a character.

 

You of course also have to talk about Flytrap's musical score!

 

Well Simon Boswell is a genius. I first encountered his work in Richard Stanley’s Hardware. I was lucky enough to hang out a bit with Richard in LA in the mid-90’s and saw his cut of Dust Devil, which also features Simon’s score. To this day that is still my favorite film score. At that point I promised myself Simon would score a film for me one day. And he did!

Simon is a BAFTA nominated film composer who has worked with Dario Argento, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Danny Boyle amongst others. Simon has a way of capturing the feel of a film, enhance it without overwhelming it. That is quite a unique talent. He also has a great sense of theme and variations on a theme. You don’t just get a musical backdrop with Simon, you get Don Giovanni.

 

And the 3 songs in the dance scene are from one of my favorite bands, the Santa Barbara based The Tearaways. The end title song is also one of theirs.

 

You of course have to talk about your very restricted locations for a bit, and what kind of a challenge was it like filming there and keeping things interesting?

 

The key was to plan a different shooting strategy for each scene. So we changed angles, lenses. Sometimes we moved the camera other times it was stationary. Also DP David Hardberger changed the lighting for each scene to not only show changes in the time of day but also to alter the look from scene to scene to keep it fresh. We also carefully staged each scene so that the actors were in different parts of the room in each scene. Even when they are in bed they switch sides.

 

What can you tell us about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?

 

The on set atmosphere was focused but relaxed. I don’t run a tense set. I think that’s counterproductive. We were moving pretty quickly so everybody had to bring their best abilities to set in order to pull it off and that required relaxed focus. We were shooting 8-10 pages a day so we had to be on point!

 

Anything can you tell us about critical and audience reception of your movie so far?

 

So far audiences in every screening have laughed at the right points, and sensed the growing tension as the film progresses. Even the audience at the world premiere at ECU The European Independent Film Festival in Paris reacted this way. And that was with French subtitles.

 

Any future projects you'd like to share?

 

I just finished filming a new top secret streaming series called Strings. I’m not allowed to say too much other than the cast includes some social media stars with millions of followers.

Also Iris, a short I directed last year, just won the Platinum Remi at Worldfest Houston and will have its world premiere on July 19 in New York City at the New Filmmakers NY Festival.

 

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

 

I started shooting stills when I was a child. I had an old Nikon SLR and some vintage lenses. That’s how I learned about composition and how lenses control the perspective and feel of the image. Then I started making short films. I did eventually go to UCLA to study. However most of what I’ve learned I gleaned from working on sets in various capacities and watching how other directors function.

 

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

 

I was a VFX supervisor early in my career. I was mentored by two time Oscar winner John Dykstra as well as VFX legend Harrison Ellenshaw. I worked on various movies from Spaceballs to Dick Tracy. I was always writing in my spare time and by this time I had 12 finished screenplays. I moved into professional screenwriting when Tobe Hooper hired me to adapt the Stephen King short story The Mangler. I went on to write a couple of other movies for Avi Lerner while directing 2nd unit on those projects.

 

In 2003 I finally made my writing/directing debut with the multiple award winning Heads N TailZ. The film won the Audience Award at Dances With Film in Los Angeles in 2005 and that proved to be the first of many festival screenings and awards. The film is now streaming for free on the ECU European Film Channel.

Just prior to making Flytrap I made a short called Binky starring the two co-stars of Heads N TailZ Billy ‘Sly’ Williams and Lucy Jenner.

 

Filmmakers who inspire you?

 

Stanley Kubrick. Andrei Tarkovsky. Mike Nichols. David Lean. Danny Boyle, the Coen Brothers, Frank Capra. The list goes on…

 

Your favourite movies?

 

2001: A Space Odyssey, Dr. Strangelove, Stalker, Andrei Rublev, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, The Graduate, Lawrence of Arabia, Dr. Zhivago, Trainspotting, Best Years of Our Lives, A Serious Man, It’s A Wonderful Life.

 

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

 

Ha! No. I admire anyone who can complete a film and get it in front of an audience. If I don’t like something it’s just a matter of personal taste.

 

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

 

The official Flytrap page is: http://www.flytrapthemovie.com

The official Flytrap Facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/flytrapthemovie

My official site is: http://www.stephendavidbrooks.com

Jeremy Crutchley’s page is: http://jeremycrutchley.com

Jeremy Crutchley’s Facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/jeremycrutchley

Ina-Alice Kopp’s website: http://inaalicekopp.com/inaalicekopp.com/Heyni_hao.html

Ina-Alice Kopp’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/inaalicekopp

Composer Simon Boswell’s page: http://www.simonboswell.com

Simon Boswell’s Facebook Band page: https://www.facebook.com/simonboswellundead

The Tearaways page: http//www.tearaways.com

The Tearaways Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/The-Tearaways-42300568530

 

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Official Facebook Page for Strings series: https://www.facebook.com/StringsSeries

Official Page for Iris: http://www.iristhemovie.com/

Heads N TailZ on ECU The European Independent Film Channel (free to stream worldwide) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Z-6aNNoNpk

Binky is available to screen for free here: https://vimeo.com/73101737

 

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

 

Yes, star Ina-Alice Kopp is Austrian! And our casting director Stanzi Stokes is also Austrian!

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

Thank you!

 

© 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) Träume ...

 

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

 

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