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THE MESSENGERS

Pushing Up Sunflowers
"Always sunny, very calm, the sunflowers just kind of sway in this serenity, oblivious to the menace of the crows or the chaos of the past that is literally surfacing out of the ground they are growing in…it's just creepy…an awesome contradiction between the setting and the action of this movie.” – Kristen Stewart.

That contradiction numbered 65,000 stems in full bloom across a four-acre field on the fictional Solomon farm set near Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.

"The sunflowers were really the first tremendous project off the top that we had to think about because they were such an enormous element in this movie,” says Production Designer Alicia Keywan. "So big that we had to have at least three plans of attack that we could shoot them on the day we wanted and have the look we were trying to achieve. We had to find the field, plant the field and that required a lot of research, checking into the soil, finding out if it would work at all, researching the different types of sunflowers, what height they would grow to at what times of year, dealing with some of the local farmers and it was all on speculation. And of course if it all fell through, we would be ordering 5,000 silk sunflowers from China at the last minute, planting silks all over the place which is kind of a typical movie thing to do!” she says, laughing. "That would have been our last resort. They never compare to the real thing and you can tell.”

Keywan continues, "Lo and behold they came into bloom the exact day we were filming here in Regina. Just a few days before only a few were in bloom. But the day we arrived to shoot, 60 percent had these gorgeous yellow heads looking up to the sun. They follow the sun. It was really a glorious moment to see them all come out.”

The sunflowers were more than just a colorful, extravagant prop.

They are the Solomons second chance.

Roy not only walked away from a career in Chicago, he banked everything on the farm and its sunflower crop. But his dreams are dashed when the crop is failing to produce, he can't pay his monthly note on the farm, his daughter is terrified and his wife no longer wants to live in the house and the bank manager keeps showing up to pressure him to sell. "He is the bane of Roy's existence,” says McDermott. "If only I (Roy) could get to harvest and sell the sunflowers and make some money, hand him the money, it would be alright. But he doesn't understand. He just doesn't get it and I'm screwed.”

Bank Manager Price has little confidence that the Solomons will make it happen, says William B. Davis, better known as the infamous Cancer man on the hit television series The X-Files. There's a buyer with a better offer "and he keeps trying to encourage Roy to take it,” says Davis, who plays Price. "He knows something terrible happened there, that the house is haunted, that it just sat there for years.”

With that knowledge in mind, "there's something spooky about growing sunflowers that gives you this sense of being happy and safe and secure…like echoes of The Wizard of Oz. But it's not the sunflowers that act up, it's the crows they attract. But they behave unlike crows normally behave. They are almost human in some way, menacing spirits. It's the way they protect the house against intruders, almost like vultures waiting for anything to suffer or die so they can feed.”

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