From the Director:
"The Firefly Girls" evolved as we were writing it, into a very personal journey. It started out as a whimsical fairy tale similar to "Edward Scissorhands" that revolved around a misunderstood man living in the 'scary' house all the neighbors avoid. A young girl (who is also an outcast among the kids at school) pushes herself into his house and into his world while selling cookies. Together they bond based on their similarities. We even scouted some amazingly unique houses that captured the feeling we were looking for.
After many drafts over several months and delving deeper into these characters, I ended up really changing its' meaning. It was a very therapeutic process for me, because I was also coming to grips with my aunt's sudden illness and passing. She was healthy when she visited one Easter and was gone by the next. I didn't get to see her after she got sick and so my last memories of her are when she was fine. So her death was such a shock, and having not even seen her when she was sick, created a disconnect that made it really hard for me to process. To this day I can't comprehend that she is gone: this script allowed me to explore how confusing grief can be, and how people cope in different ways.
From the start, I knew casting would be crucial. I needed actors who could be completely raw and vulnerable. I had worked with children in the past but never with a script with this intensity. I knew the child actor would make or break the film. I was binge-watching "Parenthood" while writing, and once we aged up the role (she was originally six years old) we started referencing Savannah Paige Rae when describing the character. Never in a million years did we think we would actually get her! We were so lucky that she took on the role. Mario Schugel was a true find who worked superbly with Savannah. He was eager to engage in discussion about his character and the story, which helped add emotional depth to his performance. It was a pleasure watching him work with Savannah, pushing each other to give 100% in take after take.
I have grown as a person and as an artist while making this film. I poured every part of myself into this project and I am incredibly proud of how it turned out. I hope it connects with others, and opens the doors of conversation.