Firecracker Flower  a short film by Frank Hall Green


Firecracker Flower started with images in my mind, noir-like and staged. On NPR I discovered Guy Madden and so I bought all his films and watched them over and over. And then I watched all the silent films and early talkies that inspired him: Stroheim, Lang and Murnau. I admired Madden's work for its iconoclastic and anachronistic style, which in turn, in my opinion, made it timely as something different and fresh. In 1999, “Tuvalu” was released, and then “Shadow of The Vampire.” Then Soderbergh came out with "The Good German." The production of every film was theatrical and dramatic, and this refreshed my fondness for creating theatrically staged photographs in my undergrad years at NYU.

So my terrific DP, Lyle Vincent, and I set out to do an experiment. We would make a film as homage to silent and early talkie films. I had an image of a woman, a prostitute or of some destitution, or someone with a very strained relationship to men, who fled into the woods to encounter a man who would compel her to face these issues. The prostitute turned in a lowly orphan of absolute innocence and inexperience.

My producer, Molly Middleton, awoke the next day and recalled: I had a dream I was being stalked. And then it hit me that the most confrontational non-platonic relationship an innocent woman could have was with a stalker. But the main character had to be a misfit: so what if the relationship was reciprocal for women in some way?

This thought process allowed me to put the film in a parallel universe, something I learned from Madden, that allowed human ideas to play out in other-wordly arenas. So the stalkers became everyday occurrences for the all the other girls in the film: prizes of popularity, their own fan club, secret admirers. All the girls had stalkers, the stalkers only watched, and all the girls coveted their attention as a sign of success. With this, I became especially interested in any allegories to modern feminine issues. And here was where our main character was an outcast primed for a transformation into the strongest of all the females in the story.

She had nothing, and I decided, in fact has lost everything. And she had no stalkers. I loved the Japanese word for firecracker, Hanabi, translated as "Flower" "Fire." So this led me to research an actual plant called the firecracker flower, of which a few have this name, and some grow here in Central Park. The Cassandra Infundibulaformis is the real thing, and I ordered several of these plants by mail order from Hawaii. And I decided to work them into the story.

So the main character, I posited, lost everything including her parents in a fire. Even her birth certificate was burned, leaving only the letter B. So her name forever was B. She didn't even have a real name, she had nothing.

This allowed for B to be this pariah and be forced into the woods, as per my original idea. And, naturally, the man she would confront would have to be an ex-stalker, someone who had screwed up as a stalker. He would be obsessed with firecracker flowers, which reminded him of a woman in his past. B, of course, hates fire, even the name. Both of them outcasts, the ex-stalker helps B to find herself. Unfortunately for him, he is triggered by B back into his old ways, and the finale is her defense against his advances. The stalker represents compulsion and addiction and redemption, themes that are of interest to me and work themselves into many of my scripts. In this case, he fails, but she does not.

After auditioning over 100 girls, the very last girl that walked into the room was Pamela Klein, and I knew she was B at once. After we were all cast, all the actors and some crew met for a party to watch old film clips and some Guy Madden. The hair and make-up people came also, and everyone was in sync on the nature of our film.

For production, our experiment would involve 16mm, not super, and some odd techniques to create a unique and old look. All of the footage was shot with a fog filter, sometimes with diffusion, and many times with Vaseline on the lens. We also cropped the edges of the frame and created circles from black cardboard through which to shoot. The lighting was minimal but noir and strong, and the production design was all based on images from the 1940's. With the help of talented hair stylists, make-up artists and costumers, we were able to create period looks from another world. The world of B.

The final product gets comments like "wow" and "how did you shoot this?" And my favorite: "I've never seen anything that looked like this." Of course, many things have looked like it, but it is unique, and its my homage to Madden and others.

-Frank Hall Green, Director

Still from Firecracker Flower

Frank Hall Green
Director’s Biography

Frank is both a writer/director and a producer. In addition to Shooting Script, Frank directed the awarded and recognized short films Take Off and Firecracker Flower. He is currently in pre-production on his first narrative feature, currently untitled, to be filmed in Alaska. A second documentary is in pre-production with The Documentary Group (Steep, Operation Homecoming) on African Pop Music, which he will direct and co-produce. Frank has also produced three independent feature films and over a dozen short films, including the latest documentary by filmmaker, George Butler (Pumping Iron, In The Blood, Endeavor), titled The Good Fight. Before Frank emerged with ambitions in film, he had several entrepreneurial endeavors. Frank founded a nonprofit organization that served and lobbied for the largest collection of Arts and cultural institutions in Atlanta. Prior to this, he co-founded and ran a business facility and consulting company for small and emerging businesses, and at the same time served as a partner in related Venture Capital deals. Frank was born in Atlanta where he attempted to draw, paint and sculpt his way through school until age 13, where his mind wandered right out of the classroom and led him to The Eaglebrook School, a boarding school in Deerfield, Mass and then The Taft School in Watertown, CT. After high school, Frank continued his wanderings to Kenya, Africa; Kyoto, Japan; Los Angeles and finally New York City. In Kenya and Japan, Frank taught school, enjoying the rewards of pedagogy and the ex-patriotic exchange of language and culture. Frank has now played all the roles a qualified Independent filmmaker should, such as shooter, UPM, AD, gaffer, editor and, of course, boom operator. He was also not afraid to embrace the odd formality of writing your own biography in the third person. Above Frank’s desk hangs his MFA from NYU’s Graduate Film program, completed in 2008, where he was a Graduate Assistant in the camera department under full scholarship. He also graduated from NYU as an undergraduate at the unique Gallatin School of Individualized Study, earning a BA in Photography and Japanese. Frank is also a member of MENSA.

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