In this darkly comedic feminist nod to Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN, a not-so-mad scientist builds a mate for her mentor’s lonely creation with electrifying -- and deadly -- results.
Interview with Writer/Director Devi Snively
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
Thanks, Carmela! I've seen upwards of 80 film adaptations of Mary Shelley's FRANKENSTEIN, and with the ironic exception of FRANKENHOOKER, not one has addressed the feminist themes in Shelley's novel. I wanted to pay homage to her strong female voices. Also, FRANKIE's a prequel conveying the origin story to a feature-length screenplay I've written and aim to direct. The extended story draws influences not only from Mary Shelley, but also Tod Browning, James Whale and my own recent explorations into feminist histories; this is a film I'm positively dying to see. I'm hoping the short will help to get us one step closer.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
Audience members around the world have told me what they most enjoy about FRANKIE is the fact that it takes viewers on a whole journey. It begins with light humor and nods to familiar tropes, but as the story progresses, delves deeper into unexpected territory with aspects of horror, sci-fi, romance and tragedy, not to mention (spoiler alert) an LGBTQ twist . On the surface, it's a darkly comedic homage, but underneath lies a whole world of new questions and possibilities to explore.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
Almost every story I tell at least touches on the importance of being true to one's self and how we must strive for more in life than mere survival. I guess I'm what you might call an "optimistic existentialist," so my characters struggle to find meaning in a meaningless world -- or rather, to create their own meaning. And always, the biggest reward comes from finding kindred spirits with whom to share that journey.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
I originally wrote FRANKIE as a stand-alone short film, but during the lengthy fundraising process, the characters kept bullying me to do more with them. At the time, I was researching strong women in the early 20th century, and when I got into the fascinating histories of early female pilots, tattooed ladies and then also came across troubling accounts of what happened to many strong-minded women (lobotomies emerged in 1937), I realized all of these issues must combine in a much larger story. So the short film became an origin story for a much more grandiose spectacle that explores all of these historical components (and, yes, Amelia Earhart, and The Electra, become part of the cast.)
What type of feedback have you received so far?
To date, we've been officially selected to screen at 57 festivals across 14 countries. We've won 3 audience awards (in a sci-fi, horror and mainstream fest, respectively), plus a best horror comedy award with nominations for best short, best horror and best LGBT film. The short script won best comedy short at the Nashville Film Festival and was a finalist for best short script at Cinequest and in the PAGE Awards. The feature screenplay took 3rd place in the Fresh Voices Screenplay Competition and also placed in their top ten for best Comedy/Romance. In addition, they honored it with their special award for "Courage and Fortitude" which they bestow on a story that dares to think "outside the box". I think that touches on the most common feedback we receive: people are surprised at how many familiar elements (and genres) FRANKIE incorporates and how it, nevertheless, manages to be unlike any story they've ever experienced.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
At the risk of sounding arrogant, I'm not especially surprised, but I am very pleased. I love watching the film with an audience and hearing the bountiful reactions: laughs, gasps, groans, cheers. I find when I stop worrying about what other people think and simply enjoy the process of letting my imagination, and subconscious, go wild, people seem to enjoy the outcome more. When we recently screened our film followed by a staged reading of the feature, I asked for criticism and nobody (in a packed house) had any to offer.
Rather, they implored me to “go ahead and make the film already!” insisting they wanted to see it just as it had played out in their heads. That's not to say the script doesn't need further revising, but I think people were excited to simply experience a new world that was full of surprises and kept them engaged. Many have since told me the story's stayed with them and continued to stimulate their own imaginations days later. Nothing could make me happier.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
It's going to be a challenge to bring the feature version of our film to life. Though it's getting enthusiastic acclaim from the few initial producers with whom I've consulted, several have voiced concerns about a film with a mid-range budget script (there's action, FX, elaborate set pieces and creature makeup involved) that features LGBT protagonists and a primarily female ensemble cast. Conventional wisdom dictates that mainstream producers may shy away from that more "indie" subject matter, whereas indie producers may be intimidated by the larger-than-most-indies budget. So, now I'm looking for bold, kindred spirits to discover this opportunity and join me in chartering this daring new cinematic territory.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
We'd love to continue sharing our film with a diverse range of audiences, so we're always excited to learn about new screening opportunities and meet interested festival directors and journalists. Also, because we're looking to build off the short's momentum to make the feature, we're seeking the right producer(s) and interest potential cast members with serious chops (and ideally a bit of clout) to attract financiers. FRANKIE's chock full of meaty parts, especially for women -- a Bride of Frankenstein character (who sings and dances), a female not-so-mad scientist, a snarky ballerina homunculus, Amelia Earhart, and a troupe of colorful sideshow performers and women's mental asylum patients.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
I'm thrilled that the big surprise hits of this year have been GET OUT, WONDER WOMAN and GIRLS TRIP. It demonstrates that mainstream audiences are not only ready, but hungry for engaging stories that feature under-represented voices. I would love for BRIDE OF FRANKIE to contribute to this progress. So, I hope our little, low budget short piques interest in the more substantially budgeted feature, so we can present, and thus continue to normalize, under-represented voices.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
Can a female-driven, genre-bending spectacle with LGBT protagonists A) find funding and B) reach a mainstream audience?
Would you like to add anything else?
I worked with an amazing cast and crew without whom the short film would not have been possible. And purely by happenstance, nearly all the heads of department -- D.P., Production Designer, Makeup/Practical FX Artist, Costume Designer and3 producers -- are female. I'd like to think Mary Shelley would be pleased.
As for the feature, it begins 5 months after the short ends, on July 2, 1937 -- the day Amelia Earhart vanished in her around-the-world flight. Here's the logline:
In 1937, a Bride-of-Frankenstein creature accidentally exposes her unorthodox affair with her female creator and, banished to a freak show, must earn back her freedom to rescue her condemned lover from a sanitarium.
What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?
After focusing on short films, writing (and even more rewriting) for a number of years, I now feel prepared to "shop my wares" as it were. In addition to BRIDE OF FRANKIE, I'm putting the final touches on 4 other feature-length screenplays I've written and aim to direct. Like most of my work, these stories lie somewhere between dark comedy and light horror with a bit of whimsy, romance and featuring female protagonists and the occasional creature. Many compare my style to early Tim Burton (think Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Beetlejuice). Two of these scripts have recently placed in the PAGE Awards contest along with several other competitions.
Interview: September 2017
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
BRIDE OF FRANKIE
In this darkly comedic feminist nod to Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN, a not-so-mad scientist builds a mate for her mentor’s lonely creation with electrifying -- and deadly -- results .
Length: 19 minutes
Director: Devi Snively
Producer: Agustin Fuentes
Writer: Devi Snively
About the writer, director and producer:
Devi is a proud alumnus of the AFI Directing Workshop for Women and inaugural Fox/AFI Bridge program. Her screenplays have placed in over 30 competitions, including the PAGE Awards, Nicholl’s, Sundance and Slamdance competitions, and her films have screened at over 300 festivals worldwide, garnering awards, distribution and critical acclaim.
Key cast: Rachel Sledd, Jessica Ridenour, Sarah Murray, Mark Lancaster and Circus-Szalewski
Looking for: producers, Financiers, Cast (for feature version), also film festival directors, journalists for short
Social media handles:
Made in association with: N/A
Where can I see it in the next month
Lady Filmmakers Film Festival (L.A.) Devil’s Night Gallery Film Fest (Michigan), Outflix Film Festival (Memphis), Cinema Diverse (Palm Springs LGBT fest), Sydney Indie Film Festival (Australia), Disappear Here Film Festival (Ireland) Vasteras International Film Festival (Sweden), Fargo Fantastic Film Festival, FM LGBT Festival (Minnesota), Roselle Park Film Festival (New Jersey), Red Finch Film Festival (Utah), Wasteland Film Fest (So Cal), Vilnius Queer Film Festival (Lithuania), Manchester Queer FIlm Retrospective, Sose International Film Festival (Armenia)
Northeast Wisconsin Horror Festival, Melbourne Independent Film Festival(Florida) , Horrorquest (Atlanta), Lilliputian Film Festival(St. Louis), Shriekfest (L.A.) , Grenada Afterglow (Mississippi), Capetown International Film Festival and Market (S. Africa), Philip K. Dick European Festival (Germany/France), Flint Fright Fest (Michigan), QUEER Streifen-Regensberg (Germany), Damnationland (Maine), Anatomy Film Festival (Greece) , Red Finch (Utah), Upstate New York Horror Film Festival, Ellensburg Film Festival (Washington)