A dystopian Detroit stars in indie film ‘Black Petunia’

Mar 31, 2017 at 2:14 pm
click to enlarge A dystopian Detroit stars in indie film ‘Black Petunia’
Still from Black Petunia trailer
Twenty-year-old Spencer King is a film writer and director who has been continuously exploring a love for the city of Detroit after his recent move here from California. His first film with a Detroit setting is called Black Petunia, and will premiere at the Florida Sarasota Film Festival on Wednesday, April 5 with a future Detroit screening date in the works.

Black Petunia follows protagonist James in a dystopian Detroit. The city is plagued with municipal water that makes people forget who they are if they consume it. Eventually, with the help of his friends, James is persuaded to stop drinking the water, and after James and the others start regaining their memories they try to find a way to reconstruct the future of Detroit.

Through filming, King collaborated with a diverse mix of people from the city including strangers, new acquaintances, and one of his closest friends, 20-year-old Josh Cowdrey, who he met over a joint.

"Diversity doesn't mean anything if you're not living in the moment," King says.

Cowdrey helped on the set every single day, which sometimes involved 15 hours of commitment. He followed the emotions running through each scene and created the entire soundtrack behind Black Petunia, featuring "Low" by the Detroit-based band Mover Shaker as an ending track.

Both Cowdrey and King expressed much appreciation for everyone involved in the film and described the set as a family community with amazing passion and drive.

"They knew it was going to be hard work," Cowdrey says. "They knew if they were getting paid it wouldn't be much ... but they were all really into the project and they brought everything to the role and their set."

King paid homage to everyone involved with the film, like his friend Francesco Carrozzini, who initially provided the camera and filmed Black Petunia during the first few days. "Without him, we couldn't have made this film," he says.

Pairing up with the cast appreciation was an appreciation for the city that King described as its own character. With the help of his friend Crystal Starr, King scouted out as many places throughout and around Detroit to film in order to display the diverse characteristics the city has to offer.

"Every facet of Detroit is included in the film, and I feel like that's important ... it's very black and white, the current representation of Detroit," Cowdrey says. To create the real story, they included the suburbs of Detroit, downtown Detroit, abandoned Detroit, and any other part of Detroit they could reach.

The diverse background Detroit had to offer only complemented the different creative energies brought by each cast member. "We came out of this film with total love for Detroit ... I really do respect this city," King says. "I don't want to take advantage of it."

You can see the trailer for Black Petunia here. King says to keep an eye out for a future Detroit release date.