Award of Excellence – “Blue Flamer” (USA)

Title: Blue Flamer
Runtime: 5 min
Country: USA
Director: Adele Biraghi
Placement: Award of Excellence
Competition: June, 2020

Synopsis: A proof of concept for a thriller neo-noir feature about Vera, an ex-cop who has to exonerate a feral child from a murky murder in order to regain her status, set in Koreatown Los Angeles.

FILMMAKER Q&A – Adele Biraghi – Director, Co-Writer

OR: What was the inspiration for your film?

AB: Blue Flamer is a short proof of concept for a bigger story, a neo-noir feature screenplay my writing partner and I are hoping to launch in the industry in the years to come. 

The idea was to produce an interesting scene with a hook to exemplify the tone and visual style we imagine for the feature version.

Blue Flamer is a female-driven story about injustice, how the wealthy and powerful can always take advantage of the powerless unless someone is willing to break the rules. 

We wanted to add a modern twist to the classic noir film such as Citizen Kane, by reversing gender roles and placing a man as the “femme fatale” and a woman as the main detective. We took inspiration from neo-noirs as well such as Drive and Nightcrawler for the dark urban feeling of Blue Flamer and we decided to set it in Koreatown Los Angeles because having lived there we felt we could best represent its vibe.

OR: When did you conceive the idea for your film and how long did it take before it was realized?

AB: My writing partner and I started writing the feature screenplay about a year ago, and after the second draft, the opportunity presented itself to bring one of its scenes to life.

Thanks to a wonderful crew of friends professionals we were able to produce the short in about a month’s time and with a very low budget. We are now working towards a fourth revision of the feature screenplay.

OR: What was the most challenging aspect of working in a short film format?

AB: It is incredibly challenging to try and fit into the short format both your theme, your vision and a three-act structured story. That’s why we decided, in this case, to prioritize the atmosphere of the piece and start in medias res, let the audience pick up the clues on what is happening, who are the characters from what they are saying and how they are saying it rather than explaining who is who at the start. We also opted for an open finale, because this piece’s intent is to stimulate the audience to want to see more instead of getting closure from it. We were a little skeptical about whether this approach would work for festivals, as traditional short films are sought out more often, but it turned out many juries and audiences enjoyed the format we chose – we won three awards so far this year only.

OR: What was the most challenging aspect of your production?

AB: The production went fairly smoothly thanks to many hours of rehearsals with the cast and a great team effort from all members of the crew. Funny story: when bringing lunch from the restaurant to the location, the shrimp container tipped over in the car, soaking one of the seats with its juice and leaving the producer’s car smelling like shrimp for about a year…

OR: Do you have any advice for first-time filmmakers?

AB: I think the success of this short has taught me not to be afraid of thinking outside the box and going for the format that better serves the story instead of trying to squeeze material that is not meant for a three-act structure in a traditional format: if the story is well crafted and the characters are interesting the short will still work perfectly for both audience and festivals.