To call The flamboyant world an ambitious endeavor for Carlson Young would be an understatement, as the surreal adventure saw Young fulfilling a triple duty, having acted, directed and co-wrote the mixture of horror and fantasy. With an audience probably more familiar with her work as an actress, having starred in projects like Scream: The TV Series and Emilie in Paris, The flamboyant world marked Young’s directorial debut. Thankfully, Young knew how ambitious an undertaking would bring the story to life would be if they initially delivered a short to audiences to prove the potential of the longer narrative, with that 2018 short ultimately paving the way for this feature film. . The flamboyant world hits theaters and On Demand Friday, October 15.
Decades after her twin sister accidentally drowned, a self-destructive young woman (Young) returns to her family home, finding herself drawn to another dimension where her sister may still be alive. Through an epic journey through the darkest corridors of her imagination, she attempts to exorcise the demons that push her closer and closer to the edge.
ComicBook.com caught up with Young to discuss her love of surreal horror, the feature film’s biggest challenges, and the only hope she still has for the Scream franchise.
ComicBook.com: I know that not only with The flamboyant world and the inspirations while doing it, but just you personally as a horror fan, that you are great in Dario Argento and the Italian giallos. Do you have a favorite Dario Argento movie or, if you can’t narrow it down to just one, if there was a reboot going on, one you’d like to get involved in?
Carlson Young: Oh man, this is hard. I would never restart an Argento movie. It’s a sacrilege, I think. Corn Hell I think it touches me a lot, that’s the first thing that came to my mind. So I’ll stick to that.
We can start, just throw you a bunch of cats. I think in 2021 there might be a more human way to shoot this movie.
I don’t know if you know, but I’m extremely methodical so I would just prefer cats, normal cats.
Speaking more about your film and your interest in surrealism and nightmare logic, as a fan and as a filmmaker, what is it about this world, this aesthetic, this storytelling that really appeals to you? much more than a cut-and-straightforward experience?
Surrealism is just an art that speaks to the subconscious and this dream logic space is really powerful for me because I’m a lucid dreamer, quite often. [Alejandro] Jodorowsky and those filmmakers who … When I saw El Topo and The Holy Mountain for the first time i was like, this is the first time i see a movie that, it talks to that other part of my brain that needs content. I knew this really situates the dream logic in waking life, and it really is a powerful and magical spell that is cast because of it. I think just because I have such a rich dream life, it really speaks to me deeply.
While you are making this movie or developing it or directing the short film, has the directing process come into your dreams? Did you take things directly from your dreams in the story?
Oh, my God, I can’t even … I could talk about this for hours. Yes, yes, absolutely. I just wrote an essay for Talkhouse about it he describes this. But yes, I love horror and the genre, but more particularly fantasy, and I just realized that I was writing my inner child’s interpretation of a traumatic event and this space where classic fantasy motifs influence. and speak to the inner child and invite the inner child to this cinematic space and let them lead. It was a really, really fascinating way to get into the scripting process.
Do you find that, as an artist, is this useful or can it sometimes be–
Unhealthy, you might say, that your brain is so attached to the story that you bring it to life. Obviously, some movies, some TV shows that you do, they’re more, “Oh, that’s a funny thing.” But when it’s a consuming experience, what is it? How can you even let go of that?
Oh, man, I don’t know. I tried to let go and get over it for months, but I think, just with the first one, it was obviously an ambitious story and an ambitious storyline to do from the start, but I just ran on this battlefield, just a battle cry, like, “I can do it, I can do it.” I was really brave, but at the same time there were a lot of … zero boundaries between me and work, and everything was blurry and bleeding between those spaces. I am really excited to continue on the film path and do my second and third and fourth and fifth, because I will always seek this experience for both its healthy parts and its unhealthy parts, and for learning and setting healthy boundaries. between myself. and the work.
With these surreal, nightmarish horror movies, as opposed to the simpler ones, you really have to be very specific about the tone, with the writing, the performers, the music, the cinematography, because if you lean too far into a sense, it might lose gravity, or if you go too far the other way, you lose that charm of that dreamlike state. For you as a filmmaker and as a performer, how did you find that tone? Was it literally tweaking every part of the process on set? Did you find it more in the edition?
I think the answer is somewhere in the middle. Much of it was in the editing, but just on set and being honest I was fortunate enough to have an amazing assistant, Sarah Kirby, who really kept me in balance in terms of being Margaret’s character and then measuring. the other actors and making sure … I swear I asked him to master an energy map, so it didn’t matter where we were – we were obviously shooting out of sequence – but no matter where we were, I had this main energy map to refer to, then each character has an energy map and they all fall into that larger liminal space where time doesn’t exist, and they all reflect different aspects of the initial trauma. So I prepared him for Heaven and had plenty of tools to help me stay on track and keep the tone in this campy dream space.
When you bring in cast members and feed them these really compelling ideas in the runaway descriptions, with Vinessa (Shaw) and Dermot (Mulroney), it was just like, “Okay, sure, we trust you “, or was there just a cumbersome process to acclimate them to the ambitions you were attempting?
I would say it was an acclimatization process of, “Let’s just make sure you understand this character, because what I’m interested in is your take on the character. The tone is really in the writing and it’s okay. being in the edit, I just want to make sure it lands in reality for you, so that I can put it in unreality. ” It was a really collaborative process considering we didn’t have rehearsal time or anything like that. It was just a “Let’s all be on the same page and understand where we are at in the story.”
It started out as a short as a proof of concept on the material and to build excitement for the project, so what was the biggest challenge for you to translate it from the short to a feature film? Or was you having the feature film ready, you knew exactly what you wanted, and the short was just reverse engineered from that?
The answer is somewhere in the middle. I knew it was a bigger story, but I wanted to show the seed to others. I knew no one would let me direct it unless I had this, “Here’s my tenability as a director” and the bigger picture. The short was meant to be a vignette into the character’s life, and I had an idea, a preview, and a beginning, a middle, and an end, and then fleshed it out from there with my co-writer. Pierce Brown, who obviously operates in fantasy space, and so we had this great tongue between the two of us. I knew it was a story about reframing childhood trauma, but I wanted to make it this psychological and fantasy experience. It was great to have the short, but it was definitely an uphill battle to make it from there.
I think the music and the soundscape are just as essential to the visualscape and the performance. Since you have control over the staging, the writing and your performance, what was this collaboration like for music and score?
Well my husband [Isom Innis] made the score, so once again, no boundaries. We laughed so hard about “Can you imagine a composer / director talking to each other like that?” But it was amazing because my husband is an amazing producer and musician, and so I knew he would just kill a movie score and he was obviously extremely close to every part of that process. So there were a few ideas that he started working on for the script that were done when we were working on the short, he had a front row seat for every part of the process that was going on, so he had a very intimate to score the film and I think it really shows.
Now that theaters are starting to reopen, for fans who might not fully understand the tone of the film ahead of time, if you could screen a triple feature film from The flamboyant world along with two other films, what would you choose to help audiences get themselves into the right mind?
Oh, my God, I need to think about it. I do not know. Yes, I have to think about it.
Well, let’s say, is there a filmmaker who, if you were doing a screening, would like to see your Q&A animated?
It would be really cool if [director] Lars von Trier moderated the Q&A with [star] You do [Kier].
A Carlson Young, Udo Kier, Lars von Trier sign. I have a feeling you might end up saying, “I’m just going to sit down and watch what happens.”
Oh yeah, “I don’t wanna have nothing to do with that, I just wanna look at you guys.”
After your work on Scream: The TV Series, I know you just wanted those characters from the first two seasons to be killed, and to have a clean break and a clean slate. So when you heard of the new Scream movie, was there at least a part of you that was like, “Okay, now we’re talking about another beast, I could clear some room to maybe make an appearance to help bridge the gap between the series and the movie ”, or was it“ No, clean break, I’m fine ”?
I was like, “No. Clean break, I’m fine.” But also, no one told us about doing something like that, of course I’m always ready to get killed onscreen, still think it’s a good idea. But no, I was very excited to sit down and watch the development of the films, because the show and the film were so separate.
If there is Scream 6, you should get killed in the opening.
Like, come on, can you just give me… I just wanna get slashed by Ghostface, is that too much to ask?
The flamboyant world hits theaters and On Demand October 15.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity. You can contact Patrick Cavanaugh directly on Twitter.