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An Interview with Charles A. Christman III, Director of The Flower People

by Mike Haberfelner

July 2020

Films directed by Charles A. Christman III on (re)Search my Trash

 

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Your new movie The Flower People - in a few words, what is it about?

 

The Flower People is about a mother and son who have a chance encounter with a mysterious woman selling flowers. Unaware of the impending danger, her son disappears the next day and becomes a victim of a cult kidnapping.

 

With The Flower People being about a brainwashing cult - is this based on any actual cult or sect, and did you do any research on the subject?

 

The film was inspired by a class I had in high school where we studied and discussed cults. The teacher gave examples of things that certain cults did for money, one of which was selling flowers. That is a fear that has stuck with me for 25 years because there were a lot of people selling flowers on corners where I grew up.

 

(Other) sources of inspiration when writing The Flower People?

 

The Jonestown Massacre and the Branch Davidians and David Koresh are two of the biggest real life influences for the movie. I was very scared of the events in Waco when I was little. I remember being in school and watching it on Channel 1 television.

 

What can you tell us about your film's approach to horror?

 

Val Letwonís RKO films from the 1940s had a big influence on how I made this film. They were more about terror than actual horror. Yes, they used elements of horror, but everything was based in a certain kind of reality. The RKO films were set in regular day settings and not unworldly places.

 

Do talk about your overall directorial approach to your story at hand!

 

I would consider myself to be an auteur. I write, produce, storyboard and direct all my films. But when it comes to my actors, I let them meet me halfway. I am an actorís director. I give them their characters, a skeleton you could say, but itís up to them to flesh them out and bring these characters to life. That is probably one of my favorite things when making a film Ė to create these wonderful characters with the actors.

 

What can you tell us about The Flower People's key cast, and why exactly these people?

 

The script was written in 2015, while I was working on my other film, Masks. That is when I met Hannah Kathryn Young. She played the mother and aunt to the two children in the third part of the film. Her approach to acting impressed me so much, I told her that I had a short film that I wanted her to star in and she immediately said yes.

 

For Yasiris Alvarado, my producer Zay Rodriguez showed me her demo reel and I immediately wanted to work with her. I sent her the script hoping she would give me the opportunity to work with her. Fortunately she loved it and said yes.

 

And for Xavier Thorton, a coworker recommended him to me. This was my first time working with a child actor that I wasnít related to. XavierĎs experience came from the theater, which is completely different from film and television. But he was like a sponge and willing to push himself to go to new places with this film. I was very proud of him.

 

A few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?

 

This was one of the smoothest and most enjoyable times that I ever had on set. We shot for three days on the weekends and I mapped out everything to a T. Another great thing was the support I received from the film set crew. In the past, Wendell Raulston (director of photography) and I always had to do everything on the set. We wore every hat, from PA to grip to sound. So when we actually had a crew for The Flower People (Niya, Sarah, Matt and Joe), we could both relax and concentrate on what we were supposed to do.

 

The $64-question of course, where can The Flower People be seen?

 

Right now, The Flower People is making its festival run. We just started in May and have already gotten into five film festivals. Four of them are international, which is a first for me. To have the opportunity for people from all around the world look at my film, Iím extremely humbled and honored.

 

Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of The Flower People?

 

Beside yourself and your website, in addition to your review, Michael Therkelsen of Horror Society gave a glowing review and a rating of 8.5 out of 10, which is amazing. And weíve been accepted to five film festivals in just two months. Itís pretty mind blowing for a film that was made for under a $1,000.

 

Any future projects you'd like to share?

 

I just finished the second draft of my short vampire script Birthrite. I sent it to my co-writer Andrew Berchick, who is my writing partner. Itís pretty much my Interview with the Vampire. Again, itís a more serious genre film. But Iím also thinking about a fun script I wrote in 2011 called Pretty Ink. It skews a little more lite horror fantasy than serious.

 

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

 

I have always loved films and TV, but where I live it isnít considered something you could do for a living. When I went to college itís not what I intended to study. I originally wanted to be a physical therapist, but I struggled with some of the biology and anatomy classes. It wasnít until I had an English course with Dr. Jerry McDade that he pushed me toward the course of filmmaking. He had a few film classes at Community College of Philadelphia (CCP) that I was completely engaged in, and studying film came naturally and easy for me. After graduating from CCP, Dr. McDade wrote a very heartfelt  letter of recommendation to Temple University Film School. Luckily enough, I was accepted. Templeís Film School is where I really honed my craft. And Iíve been making short films ever since.

 

What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to The Flower People?

 

Ever since I graduated from Temple University, I have been making short films. Iíve mostly stayed in the horror genre (where Iíve had the most success) but I have made passion projects in drama and melodrama films.

 

How would you describe yourself as a director?

 

As I said before, I consider myself to be an actorís director. I have a vision but itís not set in stone. I like when other people, cast or crew, give me suggestions because then Iíll look at it from a different point of view. I always tell my cast and crew ďhere is the skeleton of my film, the root of my vision. I want that to stay intact, but if you want to try something different, by all means go ahead.Ē I actually encourage it. Some actors can maybe get in touch with the character I have created for them so deeply, that now they understand the character more than I do. Which in turn, gives me a better performance from them because of how invested they are.

 

Filmmakers who inspire you?

 

Val Lewton, Orson Welles, Joss Whedon, John Carpenter, Martin Scorsese, Joe Dante, Spike Lee, Francis Ford Coppola , Quentin Tarantino and Christopher Nolan. I have many more, but thatís my short list.

 

Your favourite movies?

 

That is really one of the hardest questions that people always ask me. Itís so hard to say. I love a lot of different movies in different genres. Horror is my favorite, but I also like dramas, sports films and character study films. So I can say Citizen Kane, The Godfather, Taxi Driver, Do the Right Thing, Reservoir Dogs, The Dark Knight, Cat People, Rocky, The Howling, Jaws and many more.

 

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

 

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The films that I really deplore are the ones that people take on just for a paycheck and really have no investment in the project. I understand that film is a business, but whenever an actor, director or big time Hollywood producer puts their name on something just to sell tickets and they really donít understand the project, they tend to be the movies that I do not like. Just like anything in life, you gotta love what you do.

 

Your/your movie's website, social media, whatever else?

 

For more information on the movie, visit www.facebook.com/TheFlowerPeopleFilm. And check out www.facebook.com/TakeOffYourMasks/ for a look at my other recent film.

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
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WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
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written by
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starring
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out now on DVD