Here at FlixChatter, we champion indie filmmakers! So thanks Laura for bringing this project to my attention, we’re happy to help promote your film here. Congrats Cameron Cloutier and best of luck with the Queen of Hearts project!– Ruth, FlixChatter Founder
While David Lynch and Mark Frost’s game-changing TV show Twin Peaks made a huge impact when it originally aired, I didn’t get into it until a few decades later; I was a year and a half old when it premiered, so I was more interested in Sesame Street than a surreal dreamscape of a soap opera. At the beginning of the pandemic, however, my boyfriend and I plowed through the series on Netflix…then downloaded the prequel movie Fire Walk With Me, then watched the Showtime limited series Twin Peaks: The Return after that. After devouring all of the episodes and the movie, I was still hungry for more Twin Peaks-related content. Fortunately, filmmaker Cameron Cloutier has been able to provide just that.
Queen of Hearts: A Twin Peaks Fan Film, is both a prequel, starting with FBI Agent Dale Cooper (Nico Abiera) meeting his mentor Windom Earle (Paul Griffith Springer) and Earle’s wife (and Cooper’s eventual lover) Caroline (Charlotte Roi) and the fallout surrounding those relationships, as well as a sequel, following Annie Blackburn (Madison Bates, who also acts as co-producer) after her escape from the Black Lodge on a new mysterious and dangerous adventure.
This project has literally been decades in the making; Cameron first had the idea in early 1993 while he was still in high school. “Some friends and I were just sitting around talking, you know, just talking about movies or whatever, and one of my friends asked me ‘If you ever got into a room with David Lynch and Mark Frost, what would you pitch to them?'”
Cameron replied to his friend that, in that improbable situation, he’d like to see a story about Annie juxtaposed with a story about Caroline, bringing the past and the future together. “I always thought that if I got around to it, I would just do it as a short story,” Cameron explains.
When Twin Peaks: The Return was announced, he assumed it would have to do more with Annie’s story. “I really liked season 3, but one thing that I was a little disappointed about was that it didn’t carry over any of the Annie storylines,” says Cameron. A couple months after season 3 came out, the idea for a fan film more solidly began to form. “I had seen other Twin Peaks fan films, a lot of them are really short, about 10 minutes or so, and I thought ‘Hey, you know what, this is the time.'” While his original idea hadn’t been as a fan film, he knew it was the right medium for the story- and that it would have to be big. “I figured it would be about two hours and fifteen minutes, two and a half hours, something like that.”
Currently, the film has been released in 4 acts ranging from 35 minutes to a little over an hour, with the fifth and final act to be released soon. After that, Cameron plans on combining the five parts into one film as he initially envisioned, albeit longer than he originally pictured, coming in at just under 4 hours. Still, “things are moving at a real good clip,” Cameron promises. “So even though it takes its time […] it is moving very fast for Twin Peaks.“
The film officially began production in October of 2019. They shot on weekends over about 5 months, until March 2020, when they had to shut down due to the pandemic, with still about a week’s worth of work to do and no idea when they would be able to complete it. “We had some actors who were moving, and so that became a problem,” says Cameron. “However, there was one week in the summer that opened up, and we just plunged in […] we ended up getting 90 percent of the script filmed; the other 10 percent we realized we weren’t going to be able to film, but we knew about that ahead of time because we had so much time at home with the pandemic that I was able to kind of dot the i’s and cross the t’s and make it so there weren’t any holes in the story.”
One of the most interesting aspects of this fan film is the casting. The characters- and the actors who play them in the original series- are iconic, and trying to have performers impersonate Kyle MacLachlan and Heather Graham could be disastrous. Fortunately, the cast Cameron has assembled for Queen of Hearts does an excellent job of capturing the spirit of the original actors while still bringing something original to the screen. “Basically, you’ve just got to get in tune with the characters, and once you’ve gotten in tune with the characters, you can play the characters, and you have that essence in you,” Cameron explains.
In a similar vein, David Lynch has a very distinct and unusual style, and attempting to copy it in a fan film could feel hollow, but Cameron manages to blend his own original approach with Lynch’s vision well. “I’m doing this film in the world of Twin Peaks, so you have to know the tone and the mood, and [Lynch] brought a lot to that, obviously […], but there were a lot of other directors in seasons 1 and 2 that had to keep in that tone,” Cameron explains. “Some of them mimicked Lynch’s style, but a lot of them just kept that tone. So because I was a huge fan of the original series, I knew the tone, I knew the mood. I also knew when I could break away and come back to it.”
While Cameron doesn’t have any plans to make any more Twin Peaks fan films after this – “I just don’t have the energy to make another,” he laughs- he knows people have really enjoyed Queen of Hearts, and he does have an idea in his back pocket involving a few characters from this film as well as a few others from the series along with some original characters in the unlikely event that Lynch/Frost Productions or Showtime sees Queen of Hearts, really likes it, brings me in, and says ‘Do you have any other ideas?’
Still, Queen of Hearts was always meant to be a stand-alone piece of work, and, from what I’ve seen so far, it’s definitely one that will be worth re-watching.
You can currently watch the first four acts on the film’s YouTube channel, here’s ACT 1 that you can watch below:
You can follow the film’s Twitter account @queen_peaks for updates on when the final installment is released, along with other details about the film.
Hope you enjoyed the indie spotlight. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.