How Zoey Deutch Made 'Flower' Bloom With In-Character Therapy and Female Crew

Max Winkler directed the unpredictable coming-of-age movie, also featuring Adam Scott and Kathryn Hahn.

Flower is a bold offbeat dramedy in which Zoey Deutch touches tongues with Kathryn Hahn, tries to date Adam Scott and offers her future stepbrother a blow job. Co-written and directed by Max Winkler, son of Henry Winkler, the acquisition title makes its world premiere on Thursday at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Deutch stars as Erica, a teenage girl who rabidly scavenges suburbia for love and validation (i.e. using sex to extort money from much older men as a way of handling the imprisonment of her father). But things become unpredictable when her free-spirited mother (Hahn) introduces her to her soon-to-be stepbrother — overweight, unstable and fresh out of rehab. "She has issues with anxiety and abandonment," Deutch tells The Hollywood Reporter. "And like most young women, she doesn't know how to navigate through all these things that she's experiencing."

To authentically capture her character's mixture of childlike ardency and urgent rebellion, Deutch dove into texts ranging from Judy Blume classics to Andrea Dworkin feminist literature. Reviving Ophelia and Erotic Capital shed light on female adolescence, and Sex at Dawn and The Ethical Slut shared more on monogamy and polyamory. And before production began, she attended therapy sessions as Erica — Winkler observed, and the specialist knew nothing of the role.

Additionally, the 17-day shoot in the San Fernando Valley was strategically staffed with a female crew. "Our line producer, cinematographer, production designer, wardrobe designer, editor — all women. I didn't even meet with men," Winkler explains. "I grew up as this short and nerdy guy who didn't always relate to the ideas of masculinity portrayed in movies, and honestly saw more of myself in female characters like Erica. So I wanted a set where everyone felt totally comfortable and empowered to tell me their ideas and hold me accountable for any misinterpretations. I think the more we can place ourselves inside each other's narratives and connect across lines of difference, the better."

What resulted is Deutch's second starring vehicle, following last month's Before I Fall adaptation. "Making this movie was wildly vulnerable and felt like a real risk, but I never once felt judged or unsafe," says the 22-year-old actress, who is also Lea Thompson's daughter. "It was honestly the most fun I've ever had making a movie, and I'm heartsick for the experience. It's just 17 days, but it completely changed my life."