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Category Archives: Plants

A new self-interview, entitled Dave Andrae Interviews Himself, can be read HERE.

I think it does a pretty good job of delving into the particulars of how The Plants Are Listening was made, while shedding light on some of the ideas behind it, as well as my views on moviemaking in general. It was originally written in anticipation of the movie’s release on iTunes, but it looks like The Plants Are Listening will be unavailable for widespread home viewing for the indefinite future (long boring story best told in person). Anyway, here’s hoping you find it a worthwhile read.

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This December, on Friday the 5th at 9:15 p.m., The Plants Are Listening will see its Florida premiere at the inaugural Tampa Bay Underground Film Festival. This will be the first occasion in which any of my work has been shown publicly in the Gator State.

In their own words, The Tampa Bay Underground Film Festival “was founded by award-winning Bay Area filmmakers, actors, critics, artists and cinephiles to catch the independent films that fall through the cracks and end up… underground. With most independent films going straight to home video, TBUFF offers cast and crew the opportunity to see their movie on the big screen in digital sound at a real theater.”

Plants will be projected via DCP and preceded by a new 12-minute narrative from Russia, Diana Galimzyanova’s February 28. Should be a fun night out.

Here’s an audio recording of the Q&A that followed the recent screening at Woodland Pattern. The audience and I mostly discussed the music that was used in The Plants Are Listening.

Here’s the official trailer for The Plants Are Listening

Sign for The Trylon microcinema in Minneapolis, MN

On Thursday, August 21st, at 7 p.m., The Plants Are Listening will be unveiled at The Trylon microcinema in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Admission is $5. Should be fun.

Sign for the Woodland Pattern Book Center in Milwaukee, WI

And a few weeks later, on Friday, September 12th, at 7 p.m., The Plants Are Listening will see its Wisconsin premiere in the performance space of the Woodland Pattern Book Center on the Riverwest side of Milwaukee. Admission is $4.

The Plants Are Listening will be shown via blu-ray disc at both screenings. The trailer should be online soon and I’ll be sure to make a post about it here in the coming days.

Here, hot off the press, is the official poster for The Plants Are Listening

Official poster image for The Plants Are Listening.

It was illustrated by Chris Summerlin of the U.K., who plays in the bands Grey Hairs and Kogumaza, among others.

If you live in the Twin Cities or Milwaukee, there’s a decent chance you might see the above image around town (in the form of nifty little lobby cards) toward the end of the summer, in anticipation of a couple of screenings there. More information about these screenings will be made available here in the not-too-distant future.

What follows is a long overdue (and somewhat longwinded) update on the status of The Plants Are Listening, the movie I’ve been working on, on and off, for a good while now. If you read this “blog” and/or know me personally (whether in “real life” or mostly via the internet), you’re probably well aware that this movie has undergone many changes. Now that things have taken shape and more and more footage is “in the can” with each passing week, as the project nears completion, it’s much easier to discuss what the movie is “about” and what sort of viewing experience audiences can expect.

Observing the first eleven or twelve minutes of the The Plants Are Listening, as they stand edited together, the film I’m reminded of the most, perhaps, is Jean-Luc Godard’s underrated (and rather neglected) late-period effort JLG/JLG: Self-Portrait in December. In both movies there’s a moody undercurrent of reflection as the director mostly sticks around the house and ruminates on various topics with a literary bent. I’m pretty sure the similarities here weren’t intentional — influenced as I am by many artists, rarely will I consciously model a movie I’m making after someone else’s — but they’re probably there if one feels inclined to compare the two titles. I remember, after a screening of Godard’s film, some people, clearly not fans of his work, complaining that it was “basically just some old French guy smoking cigars and talking to himself for an hour and a half.” But I found JLG/JLG: Self-Portrait in December to be a pleasant sit and eminently engaging, especially in relation to some of the clunkers the 84-year-old director has unleashed over the years.

Where the two movies differ most is that I’m not at all a world-renowned cultural figure with a revered, decades-old legacy–I’m essentially an “unknown” filmmaker at this point, a fringe dweller on the cinematic landscape. The Plants Are Listening, despite several silent passages, also features more dialogue, the majority of it carefully scripted, the result of months and months of writing and refining. It’s probably also more accessible and closer to being a “normal” movie, albeit one with a thin plot and more of an attention to detail (particularly that of non-humans/inanimate objects) than most of the cinema being shown at the box office.

“So what exactly happens?”

“What’s your new movie about?” people might ask.

[**Note: the following paragraph may contain spoilers, so the text is colored black. Skip it if you’d like to view the movie without knowing the basics of what happens ahead of time.**]

The Plants Are Listening is centered around twin brothers, Simon, a playwright, and Dave, a filmmaker (both parts played by yours truly). Simon is visiting Dave for a day or two while the latter dog-sits at their parents’ house in Southwest Florida for a couple of weeks. The movie begins in the middle of a brief phone conversation between Simon and his friend Jana, a budding playwright (played by Dominique Joelle). Attention shifts from the conversation to the hibiscus in the front yard as its petals undulate in the wind. From there we see the shadows of plants blowing in the breeze on the half-open blinds in Dave’s bedroom before he reads aloud from Georges Bataille’s Literature and Evil. Then, before Dave can fully process the words, Kaji the dog (playing himself here) runs into the room and barks to be let outside. Dave lets Kaji outside while Simon grabs a cup of coffee and heads into the sunlit family room to peruse the titles in the bookcase. He zeroes in on a paperback copy of The Wisdom of Life. Dave returns with Kaji and hands him a treat. He grabs a cup of coffee and heads into the family room, where the two brothers engage in an intricate conversation on the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer. Eventually the topic of the conversation shifts to “experimental” art and its viability (or lack thereof) in the marketplace. At this point Simon remembers that he bought an unusual record earlier in the day and asks Dave if he’d like to hear it. Dave agrees but first he needs to relieve himself so Simon steps outside to smoke a cigarette. While finishing his cigarette Simon encounters his parents’ next-door neighbor Kaleigh (played by Robin Morrissey-Jones) as she steps out to collect the day’s mail, and being in social mood asks her if she’d like to listen to the record. Kaleigh has a few spare minutes to hang out before she has to drive to the marina in town to pick up her husband Tom, so she agrees. Then, in the family room, Kaleigh, Simon, and Dave listen to the piece “How to Pronounce ‘Prosthesis'” by Vicekopf (a.k.a. Gregory Whitehead). Afterwards they discuss the piece and Kaleigh concludes that it’s “kind of creepy” and asks Simon if he has “anything less creepy” that she can listen to in her car. Simon gives her a mix CD he put together and Kaleigh says goodbye and leaves. Then there’s a brief fart joke between Simon and Dave. We then see Kaleigh driving along a scenic path of seaside houses in the early evening while she listens to a song (“Silence or Something Else” by Robert Scott) on her car stereo with the wind blowing through her hair. And then the movie cuts to black. Plot-wise, that’s the gist of it, though I’d like to think that the actual viewing experience will produce a more subtle, affective, and inviting mixture of emotions than what the words above can account for. (Have I said too much? Maybe I need a publicist here!)

All told, it’s looking like The Plants Are Listening will be a fairly easy sit. I’m guessing it’ll clock in at around forty-five or fifty minutes so this will probably qualify as my debut feature.

This time around, rather than waiting and waiting for film festivals to give it the green light, we’ll be hosting a couple of screenings at independent movie houses, most likely in the Midwest this summer. You can follow the film here on Facebook to keep abreast of screenings as they’re announced, though this “blog” will also be updated accordingly.

People's Palms, whose music will be featured in The Plants Are Listening.

I forgot to mention in the previous post that The Plants Are Listening will also include some ambient electronic music from People’s Palms, the nom de plume of one Austin Freese, a young artist currently based in Oakland, California. You can hear Austin’s music here and here.

On November 8th, in Port Chalmers, a suburb of Dunedin, New Zealand, singer-songwriter Robert Scott recorded an acoustic-guitar-and-vocals version of the song “Silence or Something Else” for The Plants Are Listening. It’s quite an honor to have him contribute some music to the film!

Bob is best known for being the lead vocalist and guitarist in The Bats, as well as the bassist and occasional vocalist in The Clean–both highly influential bands with no shortage of inspired songs under their belts. He’s made solo records too and has played in loads of other groups that most people outside of New Zealand music circles have probably never heard of. Bob also draws and paints art and holds down a job as a teacher’s assistant, and he has children, so it’s safe to say that he’s a workaholic and an overachiever, though he’s probably too humble to admit that.

“Silence of Something Else” originally appeared as a full-band song on The Clean’s underrated 2001 outing Getaway. This version is perfectly good, but by chance one day I happened to see a video of Bob performing a stripped-down rendition of the song with just him and an acoustic guitar in a New Zealand library. It struck me as music that would work well in a film if it were professionally recorded. So I asked Bob if he would be interested in rerecording it solo, and he was game. Listening to the final mix of it right now, I’m quite pleased with the results and feel tempted to have it play more than once in the film, repeating it like Wong Kar Wai did with “California Dreamin'” in Chungking Express.

If this “blog” has a use beyond providing information about screenings of my films and being a platform for drawing attention to other people’s art from time to time, its appeal lies in that it can chart the evolution of a work in progress. A film might undergo any number of changes before it becomes a finished piece and maintaining a tasteful level of transparency with regard to this can make for entertaining reading. This is especially the case in hindsight, after one has seen the finished “product” and all of trial and error that factored into it is half-forgotten and easily taken for granted. I wouldn’t fault someone for not caring about the creative process behind one of my films (or for not caring about my films in general for that matter–after all, it’s a big, big world out there). But the pre-production and production phases tend to be drawn out and chronicling them in some way seems healthy. Rather than slaving away in “silence” and then presenting the world with a seamless “masterpiece,” I’d prefer to communicate what a proverbial pain in the ass it is to make a film that I consider worth watching. Hopefully the thrill of discovery and joy of realization come through too.

The latest development concerning The Plants Are Listening is that I’ve decided, after rehearsing with the other lead actor over the phone earlier this week, to part ways with him creatively. While going over the dialogue in depth it became evident that we have different, possibly irreconcilable notions of what constitutes “good acting.” This might be rooted in the fact that he is by trade theater-oriented, while I’m a filmmaker. It also might have to do with the fact that my “film aesthetic” is rather idiosyncratic–since I’m not originally a dramatist it’s hard for me to explain in concrete terms exactly what I’m looking for in a performance. But I know it when I find it, and the reading during the last rehearsal didn’t strike me as sufficiently convincing given the contentious, headstrong nature of the material. Since the actor — whose name I’ve removed from this “blog” at his request — didn’t seem up to the challenge of working to get the dialogue where I felt it needed to be, it made sense, the following morning, to cut our losses.

Despite this setback, however, I am still quite married to this project. Indeed, I have reached the point of no return with The Plants Are Listening and have every intention of following through with it. And after giving it some thought, I have decided that I’m going to play both of the main characters, in a dual role not altogether unlike that of Jeremy Irons in the film Dead Ringers, only there won’t be any weird experimental gynecology type stuff–just some dry humor and a lot of thought-provoking dialogue.

Jeremy Irons in the film Dead Ringers.

Simon and Dave, once unrelated friends, will now be twin brothers.

Has this movie jumped the shark? No, on the contrary, it’s just started to get interesting.