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Exclusive Interview with Haven Writer/Director Frank E Flowers

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Exclusive Interview with Haven Writer/Director Frank E Flowers

Writer/director Frank E Flowers on the set of Haven.

© Yari Film Group

Writer/director Frank E Flowers had to look no further than his homeland - the Cayman Islands - for inspiration for his first feature film, Haven. Intersecting stories of corrupt businessmen, forbidden love, sex, drugs, and island life populate Flowers' Haven.

Pounding Out the Script for Haven: Flowers said the process of actually writing the script was fairly short. “I wrote the script in like four days...that was the first draft. Actually a lot of stuff stayed, some stuff stayed verbatim from that draft. When you tell this kind of story, you really need to contain yourself. You need to sit down, focus, say, ‘Okay, I’m not leaving until it’s done.' Otherwise you get so lost and over-think it.

I made this short film called Swallow. We went to Sundance with it; we sold it to HBO. It won some awards and stuff, and so then I went on this college tour. You go around and meet all these executives and all of them are very nice. Some offered me movies but being a short film director, the tier of films that you get offered are pretty much after the A-List guys pass and the B-List guys pass and video music guys pass, and there’s the short film guys. By the time you get a script, they’re pretty s***ty, just to kind of be blunt.”

Rewrites and the Non-Linear Flow of the Screenplay: Flowers had to be careful with making changes to the script because the film moves backwards and forwards in time to tell the story. “Absolutely. That’s where it becomes like chaos,” explained Flowers. “It’s Jenga. It’s literally Jenga and each piece is a character and each character is so emotionally loaded and broken that if they fall it’s all f**ked up. You know what I mean? So, yeah, I mean it is very tough.

I think for me, I’m telling about characters that I know, characters that are part of my life - part of my growing up and my history. I would say, ‘You know what? What’s in the plot for them?’ Once the character’s there, the plot can twist and turn all it wants. Keep the characters strong, keep the characters consistent. And when you deal with actors, that’s kind of the big thing because when they read, they’re reading their character mostly and a lot of times the plot things, they work out eventually.”

Flowers continued, “Every script needs work. There wasn’t a night that went by that I didn’t have to go into my hotel and do rewrites for the next day’s shooting. The writing process never ends. You’re on set; you hear the dialogue for the first time. You hear an actor saying, ‘That doesn’t work,’ and you have to rewrite. It’s always a constant process. You’ve got to say once you’ve got a draft that tells my story, ‘Let’s go. Let’s see what we can do with this.’ And that’s really what we did.”

How did Flowers decide how much time to devote to each character? “I let the characters tell me,” answered Flowers. “You get in the room and you go, ‘This guy needs another moment or this guy does, or this guy doesn’t.’ You try not to think about, ‘Oh, you know, there’s Orlando Bloom or there’s Joy Bryant, we need to give her some more or whatever.’ We just try to think, ‘Okay, what does this character need right now? Who am I missing right now? Who do I really want to track emotionally?’ I tried to keep characters away long enough that you’re concerned about them but you don’t forget about them or miss them.”

The Inspiration for the Characters of Haven: Flowers said that to some extent every character in the film is inspired by someone he’s met or by something from his own past. “I have been very close to situations where guys get in trouble for girls,” explained Flowers. “You know, when you’re on a small island people tend to create their own truth about a situation. I knew guys who were really good guys who got in really bad situations and went to jail, or got in trouble because some girl’s dad decided that, you know, they were going to spin it into something it was not. I myself have been in situations where I was…I loved a girl and there was another guy who was actually dating her and I really didn’t know that. Those things get very complicated.

In the islands it’s a lot about women. It’s a very sexual, sensual culture. It’s very hot, sticky and sweaty. It’s dancing; it’s grinding. And it sometimes gets chaotic, you know what I mean? People can’t handle that. A dance is just a dance – 10 guys grind on the same girl and it means nothing. It’s just a dance. But every once in a while, something inside you, that male thing, starts to bubble up. It’s just like, ‘Oh - here we go.’”

Flowers believes his movie is a very honest look at island life. “I feel like I was very fair. I was telling a story of people that I know, of people that I grew up with, and people that I think are fragile and that can accomplish great things and can destroy themselves. People - when you are bounded on a small island - that magnifies. One gunshot echoes across the entire population and I think that’s what this movie is trying to say.”

The Cast and Directing Haven

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