Morgan Dameron: Life can be a bit messy in ‘Different Flowers’

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Morgan Dameron found her path for cinematic expression in Kansas City. From her grandparents farm in Moberly, MO, looking up at her favourite constellation, the Seven Sisters, she set her sights on independent filmmaking. At the age of 12, she asked her dad to take her to local Independent Filmmaker Coalition meetings, “because I was desperate to work on sets and learn anything I could about filmmaking”. Different Flowers is her first feature, after working at Bad Robot Productions on productions such as Star Trek: Into Darkness, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Traversing from stars to flowers, she tells us an earthly tale of two sisters with a timeless intertwined bond, like two stars in a binary system.

With a dedicated cast and crew, she has written and directed Different Flowers. It was shot on location in Kansas City with the full support of her local community, and backed by online support through Kickstarter. In fact, many of the cameo roles and background extras where played by her family, friends and other important people in her life. Her sisters and brother also worked behind the scenes, in production, photography and post production, respectively. It has already premiered at the 32nd Santa Barbara International Film Festival, and will now be released on the 29th of September in theatres. This yet to be told story will be available on: DifferentFlowersMovie.com, iTunes and Google Play. And for those in the US, you can find screening dates and times here: https://differentflowersmovie.com/theaters.

We are very much looking forward to Different Flowers and the familiar interplay between Millie (Emma Bell) and Emma (Hope Lauren), along with Grandma Mildred (Shelley Long) who helps them along the road of adventure and the messiness of life. Here is our interview with Morgan, as she tells us a little about herself, her motivations, and how being part of a community helped her bring Different Flowers to the big screen.

DBW: Let’s start with a getting-to-know-you question… what is your favourite flower, colour or star in the sky?

MD: Peonies are my favorite flower. My favorite color is purple. My favorite star – or group of stars – is the Pleiades, or Seven Sisters, because it was one of the first constellations I learned growing up.

DBW: Your film is about to open in theaters in the US. What can you tell us about your film to help film goers decide to see Different Flowers?

MD: I am still trying to process that we are about to be in theaters! This has been the most whirlwind, amazing, roller coaster year of my life, and I can’t wait for audiences to see the result of our amazing cast and crew’s hard work. Different Flowers is a dream come true for me. The story is about a tightly wound bride-to-be, Millie, who has always followed the rules, but when she has doubts before her big Kansas City wedding, her attitude-prone little sister Emma, the least likely of heroes, comes to the rescue. They embark on a spontaneous road trip to their grandmother’s farm where, with the help of Grandma Mildred, they rediscover their bond. It stars one of my favorite women in comedy, Shelley Long, and features knockout performances from actresses Emma Bell
and Hope Lauren.

DBW: And for international audiences, when and where do you expect it to be available abroad or online? Will Different Flowers be playing at any festivals outside the US?

MD: Absolutely! It will be available online later this fall via DifferentFlowersMovie.com, on iTunes and Google Play. We hope for it to be available abroad, and to have international festival news to share soon. Stay tuned to our website and Facebook.com/DifferentFlowersMovie for announcements.

DBW:  What was it that led you to write and direct Different Flowers?

MD: I wanted to make a movie that I wanted to see when I was growing up. I have two younger sisters, and felt I didn’t see enough of that specific relationship on screen. It’s such a fascinating push and pull relationship, and I wanted to explore that dynamic.

DBW: How did you get support for your film? Kickstarter? Other?

MD: I am so grateful to the incredible support Different Flowers found on Kickstarter. Thanks to over five hundred generous individuals, we raised over seventy thousand dollars using Kickstarter. We were able to use that money to begin pre-production, and raise the rest of the investments needed to complete the film.

DBW: Do you see yourself in the story? If so how?

MD: It’s difficult to not see yourself in characters you create and stories you write. I see elements of my personality from different times in my life in each of the characters — the spontaneous, heart-on- her-sleeve elements of Emma, the type-A, driven parts of Millie. At the end of the day, if I’m being honest, I think I most identify with wise-cracking, zen Grandma Mildred.

Different Flowers poster

DBW: What was your favourite moment when making the film?

MD: Every single day I would look around at the extraordinary cast and crew and the biggest smile would appear on my face. But, it’s often difficult in the rush of filming, especially on a smaller production like Different Flowers, to truly find time to take in and appreciate what’s around you. One of my favorite moments was on our ninth day
of filming, which was exactly half-way through the shoot. We were set to film the opening of the story at a beautiful, large church. We had to fill the church, and I was so nervous that not enough people would show up. We’d been reaching out to the community, our supporters, friends, family for weeks, but you just never know. I
rehearsed the scene with our actors, and then stepped off set while the crew was lighting. When I walked back into the sanctuary, my breath caught in my throat. The pews were packed to the brim with old friends, aunts, uncles, cousins, complete strangers – some people I hadn’t seen in years! They were all dressed in their Sunday
finest, ready to be the perfect wedding guests. It is still one of my favorite scenes in the film, because every time I watch it, I get to see the faces of the people who are so dear to me.

DBW: Could you describe a moment that allowed you to grow as a writer and/or director?

MD: There is no other experience in my life that has allowed me to grow more as a person than making Different Flowers. As a writer and director, there were a couple scenes I had written into the script as a kind of “insurance policy,” of which I was very fond. There’s a particularly poignant scene starring Shelley that broke my heart to cut out of the film. But the story didn’t need it. I’d written them, and we’d filmed them, just in case you weren’t on board with Millie’s journey. They were scenes that were a direct result of that little voice in the back of your head that says, “what if they don’t like it?” And watching the film, you’ll never miss them. Learning to not listen to the voices of doubt and to trust the story I created were the biggest moments of growth for me.

Rob Mayes as Blake in DIfferent Flowers

Rob Mayes as Blake in DIfferent Flowers

DBW: How did your previous experience working on films prepare you for writing and directing your own film?

MD: My previous experience working on films taught me about the incredible amount of hard work and dedication that are needed to see a project through. I remember being twelve years old and begging my dad to drive me to my local Independent Filmmaker Coalition meetings, because I was desperate to work on sets and learn anything I could about filmmaking. Collecting those years of experience, and having a front row seat to
see remarkable filmmakers lead their crews was like getting a Phd in filmmaking. One of my favorite things about making Different Flowers was the opportunity to empower our team members to tell their own stories. My 11-year-old cousins, Ava and Ella Parkinson, play flower girls in the film, and they went home from set and immediately started writing their own screenplays. Our outstanding costume PA, who had never worked on a professional set before, recently transferred colleges so she can attend one of the most prestigious film schools in the country. Several of our Kansas City native crew members have now made the jump out to Los Angeles to follow their dreams, and are thriving.

DBW: Do you have any other projects in the works? Any future plans?

MD: I just wrapped production on a sweet short film that we shot in Palm Desert that blurs the line between fantasy and reality. I’m currently developing my next feature film, and looking forward to collaborating again soon with the amazing team from Different Flowers.

Morgan Dameron

Morgan Dameron

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Jane Snow

I travel North to the ends of this Earth, the only home I’ve ever known, in search for the stars.

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