Director Frank Hall Green understands why women, as well as the public at large, avoid discussing sexual abuse.
When the subject does come up, especially in feature films, the results aren’t as helpful as they should be, Green says. That colored his first narrative feature, the festival darling “WildLike.”
“It’s been done a little stereotypically,” Green tells HollywoodInToto.com of abuse scenarios. “I wanted to give it a shot.”
“WildLike” stars Ella Purnell of “Maleficent” fame as a teen heading to Seattle after fleeing her abusive uncle (Brian Geraghty). Bruce Greenwood co-stars as a widower Purnell’s character meets along the way. Together, two wounded souls connect in ways that begin the healing process.
Green, who screened his film last month at the Starz Denver Film Festival, says the issue of sexual abuse has a personal connection for him. A family member’s job involves helping predators recover from their awful actions.
Some movies offer nothing more than pure escapism. “WildLike” is meant to nudge people from their comfort zones.
“The first act in this movie I want the audience to be very uncomfortable,” he says.
Green made himself uncomfortable by setting his film in Alaska’s challenging outdoors.
“I tend to overreach and wanna go big,” he says. He began backpacking as a teen, but a trip to Denali National Park in Alaska in 2003 left an indelible mark on him.
“It was lodged in my mind as the ultimate setting,” he says.
For Green, the unexpected can shake viewers out of their lethargy. He fondly recalls an NYU film professor whose favorite expression was, “I’ve seen it before.”
“When I write I specifically go, ‘what have I seen before, where does the audience think this is going,’ and then I try to choose a different path,” says Green, who wrote his professor’s credo atop the notes page of his current screenplay project.
Green follows his creative muse, but he isn’t insensitive to his audience. He says screening his movie before festival audiences helps him connect with crowds.
”When audiences react to the characters and the story … it causes you to think, ‘I guess I knew I was telling that story but I didn’t think it all the way through.’ Now, when I write I’m thinking more about the audience’s emotional reaction.”
Green says his fellow independent filmmakers are still figuring out the modern business model for smaller, more intimate movies. Their work is far from finished when production wraps.
“The hardest part is distribution and getting the movies out there,” he says. “That’s where places like Starz Denver and film festivals play a big part, letting people know what’s out there.”
DID YOU KNOW: Frank Hall Green previously directed “Shooting Script,” a personal documentary about his experience being shot in the stomach while in New York City.