Maria Gomez and making of Pushing up Orchids
By: Darida Rose
We’re speaking today with director Maria Gomez about her short film, Pushing up Orchids. The title is, of course, a play on the term, pushing up daisies. In the film, we watch a young grunge star as he wakes up in what seems like a bad dream. But he gradually realizes that he in fact has killed himself. It’s a film that brings back memories of Kurt Cobain. Thank you for taking our questions.
Darida Rose, Phoenix Journal (PJ): First off, what inspired you to make this film?
Maria Gomez (MG): Growing up in the 90s I was always very influenced by Nirvana. I hated the idea of fame and sometimes how the mainstream media demonizes and exploits well known artists. I found the level of Kurt Cobain's fame to be horrifying and this immediately struck the creative direction for the script of "Pushing Up Orchids."
(PJ): The protagonist is, I think, based on Kurt Cobain (although the actor looks a lot like Beck!). Is that correct? If so, why did you choose Cobain?
(MG): I find that so true! He really does resemble "Back" a lot. The actor "Tim Carey's" character "Seb Savage '' is totally inspired just by Kurt Cobain, his resemblance to Beck is completely unintentional. Kurt Cobain's story is one that I think speaks to a generation of misfits. It paints a sad picture of what the reality of stardom can do to a small town underground alternative musician. I remember thinking to myself, "What if even in his death, he couldn't escape the grips of fame?" (PJ): So was this all a dream or did he really kill himself? Or would you rather not say?
(MG): "Seb Sebage" wakes up to realize he has already taken his life and can not escape a living hell of fame. It isn't a dream, everything just repeats like a broken VHS tape that never has an ending. (PJ): Can you tell us about the production? How long did it take to shoot? (MG): Field production took one day in total to shoot! From 8:00am until dusk haha it was an intense ride but I'd totally do it all over again. (With extra spare camera batteries!) I wrapped the first rough cut the very same night and watched the sunrise. I was too excited to see it finally come to life! (PJ): Did anything exciting happen on set? (MG): The third location or "Pushing Up Orchids" was filmed on the famous haunted grounds of the abandoned Farm Colony located at the former Sea View Hospital in Staten Island, NY. Many crew members mentioned a shift in temperature changes while shooting inside building two; There were sightings of strange shadows and unexplained noises. It was scary! (PJ): Can you tell us about the wardrobe? Savage's clothes were very grungy and I loved the gothic angel of death. (MG): Thank you! Alternative punk fashion is something that's always been a part of me (coin the phrase "it was never a phase mom.) A lot of the wardrobe was influenced by my directorial artistic aesthetic. As a director some of the first things I tend to do is lose myself in the small details of the characters I'm writing about, I really believe it's the subtle hints that create the most depth. The metal crosses on the "Fallen Angels" platforms is a small motif of who she truly is when she emerges from the shadows of death. (PJ): The building with all the graffiti was great. Where was this filmed? (MG): As I mentioned earlier, the building with all the graffiti was at our final and third location at the abandoned Farm Colony by Sea View Hospital in Staten Island, NY. On my way back from a hike at the first location in Moses Mountain, my producer David Jones-Barrie and I stumbled upon the third location. Not only is street art something I'm also really passionate about, the energy of the location was so intense that it fit perfectly. It was only later until after we left the haunted grounds that we found out the long terrifying history behind it. (PJ): Kurt Cobain talked about the possibility of himself joining the so-called '27 club' of musicians like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and several others. What do you think accounts for these musicians killing themselves? (MG): I'm not opposed to believing in conspiracies! The possibility of the '27 club' actually existing, wouldn't surprise me. There are so many correlations between being famous and a certain pattern of death that it makes me pose the question "is it just the so-called '27 club?' Or is there more than what meets the surface?" (PJ): Can you tell us about any upcoming projects? (MG): I'm currently in production for an exclusive documentary with the content which is currently confidential. It's a completely different direction to "Pushing Up Orchids," but it's about something that hits close to home for not only me but a lot of Americans.