A Filmmaker’s jealousy brings Flowers to life

Posted on Oct 9, 2017
A Filmmaker’s jealousy brings Flowers to life

Guest blogger Allan Luebke is an American filmmaker best known for his 2014 documentary ‘Glena’. He currently splits his time between Portland and New York. Following an inspired meeting with a friend and theatre producer in New York last year, he returned to Portland determined to try his hand at directing a play. Using an original script he had previously commissioned, he settled into telling a story that is both deeply personal and widely relatable: the story of a dysfunctional relationship dynamic and the people within it.

Jealousy has been the most significant theme of my life and career since my marriage ended in 2014. After exhaustive reflection and analysis, I learned the difficult but eye-opening lesson that much of the relationship’s problems stemmed from my own insecurities, personal hang-ups, and lack of self-love. Realizing that my unhealthy behavior resulted in the end of my marriage was a difficult pill to swallow, but I’ve since committed myself to using storytelling to help educate people about how to identify, understand, and work through these problems. Flowers is my first step in that process.

Dusting off an original script that I had commissioned for a previous project that was never realized, Flowers started as a play. I recruited local actors Patti Howard and Brian Cutler, students from the renowned Barbara Kite Mastery of Acting Class to play the leads. For the next month, Wednesday nights in my living room became therapy sessions as we dug into our own past relationships, insecurities, and fears in an attempt to excavate the underlying motivations of the characters.

By the time we were finally ready to perform the play, I felt like there was too much magic happening to not share it with a larger audience. So I kicked my roommate out of the house for a night and snagged a DSLR camera and two lights from my friend’s basement. Using catered-BBQ from Podnah’s Pit to my advantage, I persuaded a couple of aspiring filmmakers, Seth Demlinger and Jonny Cantrell, into holding the boom and managing the set.

Flowers

I decided to operate camera while simultaneously directing the performances, which I felt confident about since I’d recently fallen in love with the utilitarian lensing of films like Scenes From a Marriage and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. We did six takes on each actor’s close-up, threw in a quick master shot and a few inserts, and called it a night just four hours after polishing off the brisket and jalapeño corn bread. The limited coverage allowed for a simplified editorial process; but Flowers then idled on my hard drive throughout the humid New York City summer waiting to start post-production.

Fast-forward several months later I was back in Portland and watching sound designer Reed Harvey bring Flowers to life. Having worked with them on my previous film Glena, I know that whether I’m in New York, Los Angeles, or just across the Willamette River, my projects always have a home at Digital One.

It’s my hope that Flowers will serve as the starting point to someone’s healing process and their internal dialogue about the way they treat their lover, or about how they allow their lover to treat themselves.

Flowers premieres October 18th at Cup & Bar in conjunction with Domestic Violence Awareness month. You can keep up with Allan’s work at www.allanluebke.com.