Emilie Richard-Froozan and Remy Bennett have known each other since they were teenagers; they made their first short together and have just released the trailer to their first feature, Buttercup Bill.
Echoing the theme of childhood bonding found so clearly in their rapidly progressing working relationship, Buttercup Bill is a psychosexual, doomed love story which explores these intense connections we sometimes experience with those figures from the past whose initial romantic impressions we so often seek to replicate in our adult lives. In this case, the central figures grappling with the ghosts of childhood past are Patrick and Pernilla (played by actor Evan Louison and Bennett respectively). Shot in New Orleans and co-directed by Froozan and Bennett, Buttercup Bill is had its world premiere at the Marfa Film Festival in early July and will be making it’s European debut at Raindance Film Festival in London this week.
The film will also be showing (appropriately) at the New Orleans Film Festival in October. The film is the debut feature from Blonde to Black Pictures.
Not long ago, the girls and I met at a bar in the East Village, and though I became surprisingly very tipsy after just one glass of wine, we somehow managed to cover a variety of topics pertaining to the film: love, youth, Batman, New Orleans and escape, being just a few…
How would you describe the concept of the film?
Remy: I would say it’s a sort of doomed love story about two childhood friends who have become estranged and reunite. That’s it.
Where does the story take place?
Emilie: There is no place; it’s like how Batman lives in Gotham. There’s a city and there’s the rural South but there’s no particular time period or place. There are no markers for that; cell phones or anything.
Remy: It’s sort of just nonspecific.
Emilie: It’s whatever you want it to be.
Why did you choose to conceptualize it that way?
E: I think it’s distracting, personally. With our generation, what you see in film…
There’s something unattractive about on-screen technology that immediately dates a film and turns it into this other thing sometimes.
E: Yeah, but I also think forty years from now, we’ll be like, “Oh that! Remember Facetime?”
R: Well, the subject matter is universal so we wanted to emphasize that as much as possible.
How did you begin working on the story?
E: We met when we were sixteen. We’ve always worked on stuff together. We always knew that we wanted to do a feature film and then she moved back from London and I moved back here from LA. We’re both from here and we just kind of got cracking.
R: Yeah, we just started sitting down together and working and developing the process.
What was the first glimmer of what this film became?
R: It was the title.
E: I had an imaginary friend named “Buttercup Bill” that I didn’t remember and my cousins used to always talk about it and would always make fun of me. And I would say, “I never had that friend, that’s bullshit.” And then a series of events happened where some VHS was watched and there I am, talking to the air.
So, I came up with this idea and this thing. And then she came and we sat together with both of our experiences and everything that we loved. And that’s why we work together; because everything is literature and film that we both really resonate with. The same themes: doomed love and amour fou.
R: We also always had a similar attraction to the idea of the intensity of a friendship or a relationship that you can have as a child that is unlike any other relationship you’ll ever have the rest of your life. There’s a sort of extremity to that; a sort of duality, a blood brothers-type thing that culminates at that young age and eventually dissipates. And we kind of wanted to focus on that and what happens in that dynamic when there is that kind of overwhelming sense of a bond.
That seems to be what happens and you play it out, over and over again. But when do we ever grow up and grow away from those childhood attachments?
R: Yeah, because there’s the typical, healthy, functioning “adult” relationship that you can have and then there’s that other wild thing that reminds you of your youth.
E: I feel like with everything in life, everyone’s trying to chase or return back to the first; whether it be your first kiss or your first crush or your first time getting wasted or your first hit if you’re a drug addict. You’re always trying to get back to your first thing but you’ll never get to do that again. Whatever your first is, if it’s good, then it kind of is a difficult thing to escape from.
R: Yeah. Do you ever really escape from it? Do we ever separate ourselves from that?
E: Yeah. We were just talking about this the other day. I realize that people I meet now, I’ll be like, “Oh, I really like this person but I just met them.” And I realize it’s because they remind me of something from my past. But that’s now but we’re in our late twenties and we have a lot more life to life. It’s just a really interesting concept to think about people who are in their fifties that make film and write, that everyone writes about this time: their youth. It’s kind of frightening.
R: And your future loves are often mirrors of those younger loves that you can never get away from.
E: I think we’re both really nostalgic. I think nostalgia gets a bad rap.
R: And I think that idea ties into the question you were asking about why we placed it in this kind of timeless setting. Because the idea of nostalgia is kind of an overarching theme and thematically in the costumes, in the settings, we wanted to give a sense of memory so that nothing was in the present.