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6 Perfect Shots From ‘Flower’ Director Max Winkler

Filmmaker Max Winkler shows us 6 of his favorite Perfect Shots and talks about how they inspired the look of his new film, Flower.
Flower Movie Set Max Winkler Carolina Costa
By  · Published on March 16th, 2018

You know what kind of person really loves to celebrate the beautiful language of cinema? Filmmakers. Alongside everyday fans, filmmakers are some of the most likely people you’ll see engaging in film discussions in the One Perfect Shot mentions. They’re a huge part of our little community on the web and from time-to-time when one of them has a film headed to theaters, we invite them here to share some of their favorite shots. We find it fascinating to see what they love, why they love it, and how it inspires their own work.

This week we’re welcoming Max Winkler, director of the Zoey Deutch led comedy Flower, hitting limited theaters (NY/LA) this weekend. He’s also known for films like Ceremony and TV work on shows such as Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Casual, and New Girl. To put together his list, Winkler enlisted the help of his Flower cinematographer Carolina Costa, who herself is an up-and-coming name in the world of cinematography. Together they put together this list of Shots and captions that you can see below.

But first, a little bit about their film Flower. Here’s the official synopsis: “Rebellious, quick-witted Erica Vandross (Zoey Deutch) is a 17-year-old firecracker living with her single mom Laurie (Kathryn Hahn) and mom’s new boyfriend Bob (Tim Heidecker) in L.A.’s San Fernando Valley. When Bob’s mentally unbalanced son Luke (Joey Morgan) arrives from rehab to live with the family, Erica finds her domestic and personal life overwhelmed. With Luke and her sidekicks Kala (Dylan Gelula) and Claudine (Maya Eshet) in tow, Erica acts out by exposing a dark secret of high-school teacher Will (Adam Scott), with perilous results; their teenage kicks become a catalyst for growing up in unexpected and unpredictable ways. Mixing dark comedy and teenage angst writer-director Max Winkler (Ceremony) and co-writer Matt Spicer (Ingrid Goes West) re-imagine an unproduced script by Alex McAulay, creating a star vehicle for blossoming talent Zoey Deutch (Before I Fall, Why Him?) and elevating the teen movie to new heights.”

We haven’t reviewed Flower yet, but here’s what our good friend David Ehrlich said about it over at IndieWire: “Even when the movie ends, we feel like we’re only scratching the surface. Still, how refreshing to see a coming-of-age story that’s less concerned about a teen losing her innocence than it is in how she might earn some of it back.”

And now, 6 perfect shots with Max Winkler and Carolina Costa, complete with captions written themselves:

FISH TANK | DP: Robbie Ryan | Director: Andrea Arnold

Fish Tank

“Andrea Arnold’s masterpiece is probably the biggest influence on Flower. I just tried in every aspect of the filmmaking to be as honest in approach as Arnold and her crew were with Fish Tank. The cinematography’s purpose is to document the truth. No tricks. No showing off. Just truth and honest moments. The color and lighting of this shot of Fassbender, in particular,r convey a mood and tension that really informed the way Carolina Costa and I tried to light our night scenes.”

E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL | DP: Allen Daviau | Director: Steven Spielberg

Et D And D

“No one in film history has captured what it feels like to grow up in the San Fernando Valley quite like Steven Spielberg. The warmth of the colors, the different textures, the alienation of growing up in the sprawl.  Carolina and I always tried to fill our frames with as many lamps and practicals as possible. Superficially, because I’m always aesthetically drawn to the way practicals look on screen.  And on some truly nerdy tip, we wanted the house to always be lit up when Erica’s character inside of it. Because her energy is so electric in the movie we thought of it like she “lit the house” in a way the same way ET could make flowers bloom and broken electronics whir to life. When Erica leaves the house at the and of the second act we don’t use practicals again to signify that the electricity has “gone out” without Erica.”

RATCATCHER | DP: Alwin Kuchler | Director: Lynne Ramsay


“This shot is just pure childhood to me. It’s literally what a memory feels like. Ratcatcher was so emotionally affecting to myself and Carolina Costa my cinematographer that we wanted to pay homage to it. There’s just something about a skinned knee that is just so juvenile and pure.  It’s a perfect reference for Flower because the way in which Erica’s receives her knee scab is based emotionally in very adult issues yet the way in which retaliates is juvenile. She hasn’t learned to express her inner life and fears yet so all she can do is attack in order to mask these intensely complicated issues she faces.”

PARIS, TEXAS | DP: Robby Müller | Director: Wim Wenders

Paris Texas

“As a movie, Paris, Texas captured the feeling and look of Americana that myself and all my department heads were going for both in the suburban locales as well as the out on the on the open road element. This moment tho though was something we referenced for the final scene of Flower. Two people becoming one, forming a connection through an impossible barrier.”

LE BONHEUR | DP: Claude Beausoleil, Jean Rabier | Director: Agnes Varda

Le Bonheur

“The pure romance of this frame was hugely impactful on the third act of Flower. The softness of light feels ethereal and natural. The headroom room was important to Carolina and I because it kind of signified the division between “the lover’s world” in the bottom third of the frame and everything above them representing the rest of the world that could never understand something as pure as this love. The way in which Claire Drouot looks directly into the camera lens was something we stole as well. Almost like she is sharing a secret with the audience.”

CHRISTIANE F | DP: Jürgen Jürges, Justus Pankau | Director: Uli Edel

Christiane F

“The first images Carolina and I sent back and forth when we were discussing the script were from Christiane F, a sometimes unfairly forgotten German film from the early 80’s. In Brazil where Carolina grew up, they would show this movie in school to discourage the kids to take drugs. We were both taken by the costumes and colors. The blues and mustards, in particular, were very informative on Flower‘s color palette from both an art and costume perspective. We used this frame as a reference for the staging of scenes between Erica and Luke.”

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