Weeds Are Flowers, Too tells the dark, comedic tale of Evelyn (played by Brittany Palmer), a recently-married millennial who resolves to master the art of gardening after moving into her new home with her husband (Cole Vandale).
While Evelyn’s efforts wither and die amongst bags of soil and stacks of how-to books, however, her hard-partying, free-wheeling neighbor Sasha (Rosie Choo Pidcock) proves to be a natural at horticulture, effortlessly bringing to life a jungle of floral beauty.
Fed up with being the laughing stock of the neighborhood, Evelyn decides to take matters into her own hands and prove that even if she wasn’t born with green thumbs, she can still acquire them by other means.
Vancouver-based filmmaker Kaylin Shioma Metchie says the seed of inspiration for the story came from her own anxieties, and that the idea of cultivating flowers serves a metaphor for the pressures that come with being an adult.
“There was a worry that I had as I started thinking about family planning – the idea of, what if it turns out I’m not able to get pregnant? What if I spend years taking contraception pills only to find out that I’m barren?” Metchie says. “There’s no basis for this fear, there’s no history of fertility issues in my immediate or extended family, but it was a thought that had taken hold. That baseless fear informed the tone of the script.”
As Metchie explains, when the grass is (almost literally) greener on the other side of the hedge, it can sometimes lead to an unhealthy fixation “that can cause people to do unexpected things.”
“The theme I wanted to explore in the film, alongside the fertility aspect, is the idea of jealousy,” she says. “It’s about how jealousy can keep you from feeling happy for your friends because you can’t help but compare your shortcomings to their successes, and how that constant comparison becomes a kind of twisted obsession.”
“It’s about how jealousy can keep you from feeling happy for your friends because you can’t help but compare your shortcomings to their successes.”
The story quickly descends into what Metchie calls “an absurdist horror,” as the film’s heroine sees her repeated attempts at gardening fail while she grows green with envy.
“The amount of focus and energy that Evelyn puts into her gardening and her self-created competition with Sasha is absurd – they’re just plants,” Metchie says. “But to Evelyn it’s so much more. It represents her ability to be an adult, to show the outside world that she has life under control.”
Weeds was one of six films (selected from more than 150 entries) produced under the banner of the 2022 Crazy8s short competition, where participants were given just eight days to shoot, edit and lock their films.
“The whole process of shooting was crazy. We had about a month and change of prep to cast, crew up, get our gear, find our locations and figure out how to feed our crews,” Metchie says. “My editor was on set with me, so we’d shoot a card, the assistant editor would process it and sync the sound, and I’d go during set-ups to watch the edits.”
“The day before our first shooting day, Vancouver had a dump of snow. As you can imagine, snow does not work when shooting a film about gardening.”
Metchie adds that she is grateful for the opportunity she had to work with so many creative people and that the heart and experience they brought to the project helped overcome some unexpected challenges.
“We shot in February. It hadn’t snowed in weeks, but the day before our first shooting day, Vancouver had a dump of snow. As you can imagine, snow does not work when shooting a film about gardening,” she recalls. “We had to spend the morning shoveling, raking and pouring hot water to get rid of all the snow that had piled around our gardening boxes.”
With the film currently waiting on more festival dates, Metchie says she is trying not to worry too much about the future because “one of the exciting things about indie filmmaking is there are a ton of possibilities.”
“In filmmaking, you can never know. I’ve had great responses from those that have seen it. It’s played at some amazing festivals around North America,” she says. “I just hope people get some entertainment out of it, or at least don’t feel like they’ve wasted fifteen minutes of their lives.”
Ultimately, Metchie says that the whole experience of producing Weeds has convinced her to focus more on advancing her career as a filmmaker… and leave the gardening to the experts.
“My grandfather was an amazing gardener. When he was alive and he and my grandmother lived in their house, his backyard was full of beans, squash, tomatoes, lettuce and more,” she says. “I’ve lived mostly in apartments my adult life, so I wouldn’t say I’m a good gardener. I don’t know if I have the patience for it, though recently I planted some flowers and they do seem to be thriving!”