Magazine article Screen International

Frank Hall Green, ‘Wildlike’

Magazine article Screen International

Frank Hall Green, ‘Wildlike’

Article excerpt

Green's award-winning coming-of-age drama about a troubled teen who flees from her uncle into the Alaskan interior has won hearts and minds on the US festival trail and stars Ella Purnell, Bruce Greenwood and Brian Geraghty.

Jeremy Berkowitz talks to Green about kites, sexual abuse and shooting in one of the world's great natural wonderlands.

Christine Vachon served as executive producer and Green produced with Julie Christeas, Schuyler Weiss and Joseph Stephans. Wildlike is a Greenmachine film and a Tandem Pictures production and will open on September 25 through Amplify Releasing.

I just wanted to start by saying that Wildlike was one of the best, most beautiful movies I've seen in along time. I was particularly moved by the story Mackenzie hears when she and Rene fly kites with strangers.

There's an interesting story behind that part of the movie. The man who tells that story is Tom. When I wrote this script, I wanted to incorporate something about kites and people. Although it's sort of tangential, it's a good part in the movie where Bruce and Ella come together and are able to be complicit with one another for the rest of the journey.

When we cast this part, I wanted the kite-fliers to be Japanese people because I lived in Japan briefly and I had an affinity for some things that were there. I just thought it would be a neat thing to do.

What inspired you to make this movie?

There were a few different interests. First, sexual assault was something I wanted to tackle. It was an issue that became increasingly important to me. It was one of those things that came out of the periphery. The subject matter kept coming up. Originally, when I was a teenager, I had a friend that told me fairly intimately what had happened to her. And then it just kept coming up for me. I wanted to tackle a first feature and I wanted to make a movie that had a message. It seemed like that was the thing to grasp on.

I'm also a heavy backpacker and I wanted to tell a story that took place in the outdoors and involved nature and backpacking. I'd gone to Alaska with my wife and we did a backpacking trip in Denali National Park for eight days. And we went back to the same places as at the movie. And lastly, I wanted to tell a story about a journey; something that changes you.

Would you says Mackenzie's journey is an attempt to get victims of sexual abuse to talk about it?

I think so. The silence of the movie reflects the silence of the subject matter and the silence of the character, which is a key to why it's an issue. If people speak out sooner and find trustworthy people to help their cause then the issue will become much easier to handle.

I noticed the most silence along the trail itself. Were those scenes improvised or part of the script?

That's very much in the script. I wanted to make a quiet film that reflects a tone that I feel is missing in the movies for the most part. I think that you can actually find great suspense in silence and in the moments when something is not happening. Maybe you can just go a little longer, wait just a couple more seconds and you might actually find that it's something more rich and more powerful than if you just keep moving along. So, yeah. Very intentional.

The camera work often suggested a connection between Mackenzie's eyesight and the nature around her. Would you say there's a connection between loss and the wilderness?

For me, it's a direct connection. It's extremely powerful when you take yourself away from society and the norms and mores of what's around you but then replace that with this incredible, powerful scenery that I think speaks to you as a person. …

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