“Frankenfriend” was born from an unexpected opportunity when a friend sent me a link in early September 2016 announcing that the Boomtown Film and Music Festival’s “Small and Creepy” film contest was accepting entries through October 1st. What made this contest particularly special was the fact that screenwriter Caroline Thompson (whose credits include Edward Scissorhands, The Addams Family, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and The Corpse Bride) helped to set it up and was also going to be judging the entries. Prospective contestants had to submit an original film, four minutes or less, in a style reminiscent of Ms. Thompson’s body of work and I eagerly embraced the challenge, and soon conjured up mental images of a young girl fervently working in a dark laboratory to bring her creation to life prior to even writing a word of the script. I had an idea, inspired in part by Edward Scissorhands’ creator (played by Vincent Price) and the lugubrious Wednesday Addams (played by Christina Ricci), and only 30 days to deliver a finished product for competition.
Although the Frankenstein story has been told cinematically many times and in many different ways, from Thomas Edison’s 1910 silent to more recent efforts such as John Logan’s interpretation in his superior Gothic television series Penny Dreadful, I decided to take a different approach by turning Mary Shelley’s monstrous misanthrope into a companion and protector. My own troubled childhood, which was dominated by bullying at school and an abusive home life, combined with my love of the classic monster movies that were also a staple when I was growing up, formed the basis of this vision. In fact, when I first saw James Whale’s Frankenstein with Boris Karloff on television (I was about five or six at the time), I actually cried when the monster was trapped inside of the burning windmill at the film’s climax.
With regard to my own film, in spite of having very little time and a tight budget from start to finish, my intent was to create a visual storybook and fable told in three distinct parts: the protagonist faces a problem, comes up with a scientific solution, and triumphs in the end. The rhyming narration I scripted is delivered in a style akin to Rod Serling’s perfect pitch radio voice from The Twilight Zone and the score (mainly Camille Saint-Saens’s “Aquarium” sequence from The Carnival of the Animals) is evocative of Danny Elfman’s music in Edward Scissorhands. Of course, no Frankenstein-style film is complete without a memorable lab sequence and, drawing heavily from a combination Grandpa Munster’s laboratory and Tim Burton’s 1984 short “Frankenweenie,” I used a combination of practical and digital effects to make a bit of my own mad science. Although Ms. Thompson was unable to watch and score all of the “Small and Creepy” contest entries, I would like to think “Frankenfriend” captures the essence of the films she’s infused with her own unique storytelling magic.
Charles M. Kline, Director