Although filming isn’t expected to begin until the fall of next year, it’s already clear that this will be an interesting and highly unconventional project in contemporary home cinema.
At what stage is your film Yellow Flowers at the moment?
In February this year, I met producers Vratislav Šlajer and Jakub Košťál, whose efforts to support genre cinema in the Czech Republic I appreciate. I am all the more pleased that the Yellow Flowers will be produced under the banner of their company Bionaut. This is another important piece of the puzzle. But I’m still working on the script, currently on the seventh version. I like to let him rest and live his own life. It’s nice to feel the distance and look forward to when more new ideas are added to the storyline. The fundraising process is slow, but this phase cannot be rushed, especially in this period when the outlook is not very favorable. Nevertheless, I believe that nothing more serious will disturb our project and that it will be carried out. I am currently casting extras and episodic roles. Wherever I am, I try to present Yellow Flowers. You never know who you might meet and if they don’t like it.
Can you briefly state the plot, setting and timing of the story?
Really happy. The plot of the film takes place in the 70s, it contains several scenarios and main characters. Hedvika Málková is discharged from a psychiatric hospital after many years and returns home to a dark village in the Karviná region. At the same time, a young girl is brutally murdered near the church. Everything is investigated not only by local security, but also by a young captain who has been called from headquarters. The outcome of the case, traces and unusual relationships in the village begins. The mystery remains what role a little boy with yellow flowers plays in everything.
Photo from the filming of the trailer. Photo: Jana Maceckova
You do not hide your love for classic works of the thriller and horror genre. What specific films do you want to follow with your first feature film?
With their concept, the Yellow Flowers are reminiscent of today’s memorable crime novels with Major Kalaš, played by the genius Rudolf Hrušínský and the style of Italian mystery thrillers of the 1970s-1980s. In my film, I want to present to the audience the following elements: a look into the depths of human trauma, dreamlike ideas, beautiful girls, colorful compositions, psychological horror, dark lizard symbolism, elegant fashion and architecture, and atypical murder. with an unusual object.
At this point, you probably already have a full cast of the main characters. Can you tell your readers? Did you manage to cast all the actors you wanted?
Unfortunately, last summer came the sad news of the death of actor and drummer Vladimír Kudla. Some viewers will surely be known as young Vavroch from the detective track In the Footsteps of Blood. The launch came as a great idea and an honor for me. He liked the rough script and I was happy as a four year old at the zoo that we could meet to introduce him to his role. The very first face that appeared to me at the start of the cast selection belonged to the Czech actress working in Italy, Zora Ulle Keslerová. In my vision, she was walking around one of my locations, and I began to research her character’s origins. And in a few months, we made a phone call. The voice I saw in my imagination spoke to me in his voice. It was a lively moment of conversation. The following cast consists of Ostrava actors Petr Panzenberger, Adam Langer, Zuzana Truplová, Kristýna Panzenberger Krajíčková. They will be joined by Robert Vrba, Jaroslav Achab Haidler, Stanislava Jachnická and another actress working in Italy, Zuzana Martínková. One of the main objectives of the film, and at the same time my dream, was to introduce the public to Keslerová and Martínková on screen in a joint scene for the first time (both were used in Italian horror films, ed.). I have met almost everyone in person and every encounter has been beneficial.
I guess you want to bring the visual of the film as close as possible to Italian giallo films shot on 35mm. How do you want to achieve the image ambiance needed in the digital age?
The stylized camera undoubtedly belongs to this genre and is an integral part of the gialla (designation giallo – yellow, formed from the novels in yellow paperbacks, which serve as themes for these films, ed.). At certain moments, the lens seems to become the eye of the spectator, who thus finds himself inside the scene. Of course, I would be happy if the flowers were filmed. However, it is not only a big investment, but the presence of a cameraman capable of shooting on celluloid is also necessary. In fact, I’ll be happy to raise enough money for a technique that can create the authentic look of the era. For example, Panavision lenses can evoke a very faithful old school visual. But it’s more a consultation with the cameraman than with me.
Photo from the filming of the trailer. Photo: Jana Maceckova
From your previous work, it can be deduced that you do not resort to computer tricks, but are a supporter of classic, handmade effects. Will you go this way in Yellow Flowers?
Of course, and otherwise I wouldn’t want it. I’ve always admired all those handmade magic tricks and masks. Mythical monsters, strangely swaying characters with hissing breath… Mages like De Rossi, Savini, Bottin, Baker or Winston are to blame for all this. In Yellow Flowers, I want to follow up on that craft and present it with the respect and style it deserves. At the beginning of 2021, I met the skilled creator of practical effects, Jakub Gründler (worked, among other things, on the film Bloody Red Sky and the Carnival Row series, editor’s note). We discussed some of our favorite movie effects and especially the scenes given for Yellow Flowers. It is very important for me to work with a person with whom we have a common language and who is ready to give heart to the project.
A year ago you revealed that you were planning to shoot in the Karviná region. Have you discovered any interesting new places where you will shoot?
Yes. An elegant, which appeared to me in the paintings when writing the theme, attracted me more and more, so I had to go in the summer. I don’t want to reveal what the location is yet, but it has a crucial role in the story. I was amazed at how time stood still there. This place corresponded exactly to the visual of the time when the Yellow Flowers are planted. I walked through it slowly and often with a shudder, as the voices of the birds echoed in an unusually mysterious way. New ideas immediately crossed my mind. Unfortunately, you never know if you will get permission to shoot in such places. Fortunately, the ghosts of the brass pitcher bowed to me that day (Laughs). Within hours we received permission from the building manager. And recently a friend showed me a house with an impressive spiral staircase. Its element is one of the components of giallo thrillers, so I read it up and down and enjoyed its atmosphere. I think there is never enough location. I like to travel and observe the landscape around me. It often happens that the expedition to a specific place goes all the better if I discover another interesting space there. I keep looking at the locations that are already selected for the film. The mountainous landscape of the Karviná region is changing and within two years the objects may no longer be there. But because I want to immortalize them in my film, they just have to stay there.
Lukáš Bulava (right) with Petr Panzenberger. Photo: Jana Maceckova
The music for Yellow Flowers will be composed by Dave Neabor of Dog Eat Dog. How did you manage to get him to do that?
Dave is one of my closest friends and his passion for horror movies literally springs from him. He is an incredibly empathetic person with a determined spirit to bring positive energy and help others. He was one of the first people I approached to collaborate on Yellow Flowers. I only had a few notes on paper at the time, the subject was barely emerging. We met before his band’s Brno concert in 2019 and I spat everything on my heart in that moment. He was fascinated by the vision and said he would gladly take on the role of writing the music. It was a spontaneous moment. No walking around hot porridge. We go there together, bound by a love of black cinema and a desire to create.
You did a trailer for Yellow Flowers, even though they don’t exist as a movie yet. The idea is that the creation of the teaser could be a sort of indicator of how the main shoot is going. Have you realized what needs to be improved, sharpened or what needs to be avoided?
Definitely yes. When I look at her from a distance, I am fully aware of how much could have been done differently. And that’s very good and all the more motivating. Personally, it has been very beneficial to me to be part of the process and to observe, for example, Petr Panzenberger, who has a great capacity for improvisation and a desire to come up with new ideas, not only in the moments when filming blocks itself. Problems, especially technical, can arise even if we are better prepared. It is then up to each of us to know how to deal with such a situation and if we will not become discouraged. The trailer had to be atypical in its concept and present the spirit in which the atmosphere will be carried. The chemistry on set on the day of filming showed that we wanted to continue and my thanks again go to everyone involved and I look forward to the next shoot.
How can genre film fans who want to get involved help?
Anyone can participate in the filming in the form of a financial contribution. You can support the film with any amount on account 458 945 9073/0800 (IBAN CZ93 0800 0000 0045 8945 9073). Everyone who contributes 700 CZK or more will receive a themed reward in the form of a stylish tray with a set of stickers and cards. So don’t forget to send messages to your address. Thank you all for your support.
Movie promo card. Photo: Jana Maceckova
Teaser of the movie Yellow Flowers: https://vimeo.com/653019542