Filmmaker Cody Alexander Curtis and Wallace Douglas play siblings in “Broken Petals.” Photo by Travis Harden

The trailer for Bath filmmaker Cody Alexander Curtis’ latest short film, “Broken Petals” doesn’t say a word.

A synopsis of the film notes it’s about a pair of adult siblings (played by Curtis and Boston-based actress Wallace Douglas) meeting at the Maine summer cabin where they suffered a childhood of abuse at the hands of their father, whose recent death spurs the duo’s uneasy reunion. The trailer, echoing with composer and assistant cameraman Gabe Hirst’s delicate piano score, suggests all that and more with the siblings’ averted glances, Curtis’ ever-present bottle, and Douglas’ solitary wandering in the woods surrounding the cabin, all the dappled Maine sunlight and lapping lakeside waves deepening the sense that the story contains a unique sadness beyond the bare bones of the plot.

It’s an evocatively sparse teaser for a film that, as Curtis states, sprung from some recent and profound familial pain. “This year in terms of projects has been great. In terms of relationships with certain family members, it’s been a little bit difficult.”

Since it’s what storytellers and filmmakers do, Curtis set to work in transforming personal experience into art, gathering together the small group of Maine film professionals and friends he’s been working with for the last several years. The resulting 27-minute film is now heading out into the world, as Curtis and company prepare to submit the short to film festivals across the country. For Curtis, the prospect of sending such a deeply felt and personal tale out for public consumption and judgment isn’t that daunting. Maybe that’s because the energetic and industrious Curtis doesn’t get daunted by much of anything.

“‘Broken Petals’ came out of a conversation I had with my mother,” Curtis said on our phone call, squeezing in an interview on a long drive to his next filming location in Bangor. “Not to get into too much detail, but it was about a very close member of our family, somebody I’d had a very good relationship with growing up, but not so good any more. In the film, my character Todd’s vices are a little bit different from this family member, but it’s still a dynamic based on my life.”

For Curtis, “Broken Petals” was also about growing his connection with the Maine filmmaking collaborators he’s grown to trust and rely on in his burgeoning career. After making 2021’s wrenching relationship drama “Suffocation,” Curtis found his two-day shoot making the shorter but no less intense “Broken Petals” a comparative breeze, thanks to teamwork and some good old Maine generosity.


“I went onto Facebook and basically sent out a call for the kind of location we needed,” said Curtis. “This great guy named Jerry Walker reached us about his camp in Standish, and we said we’d love to check it out. We didn’t know what we were expecting, but the place had everything – the cabin, trails out back, and it’s right on Sebago Lake, with Jerry letting us film on his dock right on the lake. He’d been involved with the arts his entire career and wanted to give back, and so we got this fully cinematic location, all for free. I consider it an absolute blessing we got this place.”

Of course, Maine’s got no shortage of picturesque locations for filmmakers to set up a tripod, but Curtis is emphatic that his two-day shoot in Standish was like a dream of fruitful collaboration and professionalism from his small but dedicated young cast and crew.

“We shot a page and a half on Day 1,” he said, “and then 13 pages in six hours on Day 2. It was very time- and attention-focused from everyone in all the various departments. Everyone was very focused on what they were supposed to be doing, so we were able to get the shoot done in a very efficient and quick manner. We’re all very proud of that.”

For multitalented Curtis, who costars as well as writes and directs this time out, “Broken Petals” meant delegating and trusting his team. “Our assistant directors, Stephen Bennett and Maverick Keegan, are amazing. They’re so organized, and able to cut things that are not specifically necessary to get where we needed to.”

That efficiency is the quality that can make or break a low-budget film (“Broken Petals” came in at around $3,000), with Curtis similarly praising sound mixer and editor Ronney Clement, gaffer Henry Riley (who also assembled the film’s impressively professional press kit), the cinematography of Zach Wheaton, and Hirst’s score. He’s especially grateful to Bennett, who imparted some tough love on the subject of Curtis’ own performance.

“On ‘Suffocation,’ it was such a big cast and crew with so many moving pieces and I felt I wasn’t able to focus up as much as I wanted to. Here, the cast and crew was so small comparatively, and everyone was so confident in their jobs that I got to completely let go of the reins and not worry about anything but acting and directing. As for Steve, we’ve known each other since 2018, and I trust him so completely that I knew I could trust him to watch over my performance. He told me, ‘If your performance doesn’t feel real and authentic, I’m going to start over, even if there’s 10 seconds left in the take.’ ”


Now that this Maine-made story is testing the festival waters, Curtis is typically optimistic that all this hard work will connect with audiences far and wide.

“Whether it’s a personal story like this one or any kind of film, there’s always a sense of pressure that it won’t hit people the way it should, or they’ll be taken aback by it and you won’t get the sort of reception you’re looking for. But we had our cast and crew screening last week, and I’m not ashamed to say it brought me to tears. Wallace Douglas is so amazing in the film, and even if people can’t relate to the Maine setting or certain elements, I think the core story – about family, about relationships – is going to impact people.”

For the busy Curtis, the next few months will see him and his team submitting “Broken Petals” to various film fests, and employing a pre-submission, location-based publicity press to drum up interest in the film. He, Bennett and Keegan are also prepping for the third installment of their cheekily titled “(Expletive) in the Dirt Film Festival,” a celebration of low- and no-budget filmmakers, which will screen at Portland’s Apohadion Theater on Dec. 16.

For the busy Curtis, being a Maine filmmaker is all about hustle, teamwork and seemingly boundless energy. As he says proudly of his own filmmaking family, “This film doesn’t feel like it was made by a group of people in their mid to early 20s. It looks like it was made by a group of professionals.”

To learn more about Cody Alexander Curtis and “Broken Petals,” check out the filmmaker’s website,

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