“Thanks for seeing a Christmas movie in February,” Greenpoint filmmaker Charles Poekel told everyone gathered for the latest installment of Nitehawk’s Local Color series.
Actually, it’s been a solid year since Christmas, Again took Sundance by storm, and a couple of months since it was simultaneously released theatrically and online. But last night’s Q&A brought some fresh news regarding Poekel’s first-time feature about a prickly Christmas-tree salesman: it’s coming to Netflix in about a month.
By now you may know the backstory: Poekel researched and raised money by working his own tree stand off of McGolrick Park, and used the same location when he and his DP Sean Price Williams (Queen of Earth, Kim’s Video, etc.) shot the film on 16mm.
“It was definitely weird filming because you’re in the same place every single day, all day long,” he said last night. There was a “general sense of relief” when, during the fourth or fifth day of filming, the shoot relocated to an indoor swimming pool. That scene, Poekel said, was based on the actual hygiene habits of tree hawkers who hole up in campers for the season. “A lot of guys that sell trees in New York City do that— they get like one-month YMCA memberships.”
Public showering wasn’t the only detail ripped from real-life. In the film, Brooklyn actor Kentucker Audley plays Noel (get it? Noël?), a morose, pill-popping loner who’s pining (no pun intended) after a lost love when a new woman (Hannah Gross) enters his life. Audley sports a mustache much like Poekel’s own, but it turns out that wasn’t the initial intention. The director said he wanted Audley to “start off clean-shaven” (so, spruced up) “and then have a beard by the end. And he didn’t really want to do that. He was like, ‘How about a mustache? I’ve always wanted to grow a mustache for a movie.’ So we compromised– or, I didn’t compromise, I lost.”
Now it’s on to the next battle. Poekel didn’t reveal what exactly his next project is, though he said he was “familiar with the setting— the story and characters I’m completely unfamiliar with.” But he did say that at some point he wants to make a “buddy romance road-trip movie.”
As for Nitehawk’s next Local Color screening, it’s Benjamin Dickinson’s Creative Control, a portrait of Williamsburg five minutes into the future.