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Filmmaker Letter

Filmmaker Letter


by director/co-writer Max Winkler

The first draft of Alex McAulay’s Flower came to me with the following disclaimer: “Everyone says two things about it: it’s amazing, but it can’t be made.” I started reading right away. It made me feel like I was watching one of the VHS tapes I used to steal from my older brother’s bedroom when I was a kid in the ‘90s. But those movies always had male protagonists. Usually, they were about a boy taking a journey through fire to get the girl in the end. The girl was always a by-product of the male hero’s desire. Erica Vandross, Flower’s protagonist, was a walking/living, breathing refutation of that idea. She was a 17-year-old girl, not awaiting some boy’s love, but seeking a semblance of control in her life. Erica’s journey tapped into all the themes that I love in coming-of-age movies, the ethereal recklessness of youth captured by The 400 Blows and The Breakfast Club. She’s one part Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver and one part Jim Stark from Rebel Without a Cause. Erica Vandross has bravado—she cruises around the San Fernando Valley like a self-appointed vigilante to the wronged—but this bravado turns out to be a veneer, which hides her intense feelings of abandonment. This is what we do as kids, we mask our deepest insecurities with semi-arbitrary actions, and claim those actions are the real us.

It’s a movie very much about adolescence but it’s also about a place. It’s inspired by my growing up in the San Fernando Valley. The sprawl, our parents’ garages, the taco stands, the bike rides, the trouble.

A movie made for just over half a million dollars, and shot (somehow!) over 16 days, requires the creative minds and hearts of many dedicated professionals and artists. When you watch Flower, what you see on screen is born of the work of every single crew member on the call sheet, from Jonah, one of our production assistants, to Sarah Beth and Seib, my editors, Tricia and Michelle, our production designer and costume designer respectively, to my cinematographer and partner, Carolina Costa. Each individual contributed something irreplaceable and essential. These people do what they do for no other reason than that they love cinema/movies. They are magicians, who work like miners. What each member of the crew was able to bring—with no big budget to smooth the edges of our shoot—continues to leave me in awe.

However, the crew and I would have nothing to hang our work on without the performance of our incredible cast, especially that of Zoey Deutch. Zoey appears in almost every frame of this movie, and all the crew and I could do, as film makers, was try to match her energy, passion and courage. Throughout every facet of the film making process, her fearless embrace of this deeply complicated role was our north star.

These days, it’s a privilege to get to show your film in a theatre. The responsibility that comes with this opportunity isn’t lost on me. So when the folks at Roughhouse—a company behind some of my favorite TV and film projects over the last decade—sent me the script, I’m glad they sent it with a challenge. I’m glad they told me everyone said it couldn’t be made. And I’m glad I disagreed.

We are honored to bring Flower to Landmark Theatres. The Landmark on Pico Boulevard happens to be one of my hometown favorites. I’ll be waiting at the Apple Pan.

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