This April Fool’s Day Austin Film Festival is bringing back one of the most talked about films of last year’s fest, the Narrative Feature Audience Award Winner JUNK, a behind-the-scenes satire of the film festival world. JUNK plays at 7 pm on Monday, April 1st at the Alamo Drafthouse Village. Two B-movie co-writers, Kaveh and Raul, must reconcile after their long-languishing film, ISLAMA-RAMA 2, finally makes its festival debut. Negotiating their way through pushy agents, brutish bodyguards, cutthroat colleagues, prima donna actors, and overly eager festival volunteers, the former friends piece together absurd horror film pitches for a mysterious speaker keynoting the film festival. JUNK is a ridiculous comedy about friendship, love, and crappy movies. For more information about the screening, and for tickets, click here.
Writer/Director/Star Kevin Hamedani will be in attendance at the screening, but AFF Director of Programming Bears Fonté e-sat down with him to discuss his film and experience making it.
AFF: Junk is about taking a film out on the Film Festival Circuit. What inspired the idea and how much of the film is based on things you saw happen/heard about?
Kevin Hamedani: After spending a year traveling the country to film festivals with my first feature, ZMD: ZOMBIES OF MASS DESTRUCTION (2009), I got inspired to make a movie about the crazy, wild and surreal world of film festivals. It’s a strange, fun and at times, frustrating environment ripe with funny and interesting characters, scenarios, scenes, etc… The film is about 50% based on my own experiences and 50% completely fictionalized. I never wanted to make an autobiographical movie. My goal was to make a funny, poignant movie about bromance while capturing the strange world of film festivals.
AFF: You came to Austin Film Festival in 2009 with ZOMBIES OF MASS DESTRUCTION, how was 2012 different?
KH: Honestly, not that much different. I had a great time both years. The main difference was the fact that Bears Fonté wasn’t there in 2009 and he’s a great addition to the festival. We had a wonderful time together.
I guess the other difference would be the fact that we won the Audience Award which made this year’s experience a bit more sweeter.
AFF: Is there any part of your 2009 AFF Experience in JUNK? What?
KH: Yes. There is a particular scene in JUNK when the two leads sneak off into the alley way during the screening of their movie and come up with a new movie pitch. In JUNK, the pitch is “Gremlins 3” but in real life, it was actually JUNK. That’s where we came up with the idea so we decided to write that scene in.
The fun BBQ was very much based on AFF’s awesome BBQ party. We tried to capture that vibe.
AFF: You and your writing partner live on opposite sides of the country, how does that work?
KH: It’s very hard and I don’t recommend it but we manage. Lots of long phone calls.
AFF: You co-wrote this script, then directed it and starred in it. Are you crazy?
KH: Yes and I don’t recommend it. Only if you MUST play the role yourself. But doing all three with a low budget isn’t the best way to make an independent movie.
AFF: What was the hardest scene to film as a director/actor?
KH: The hardest scenes to direct were the ones involving a group of extras simply because we couldn’t afford that many so I had to spend time using tricks to make it look like the festival was packed with attendees.
AFF: Brett Davern from MTV’s Awkward is in JUNK. How did he get involved and how was he to work with?
KH: We actually grew up together and did stage in Seattle together for years. He starred in the first play I wrote and directed in Seattle. We’ve been trying to find a project to work together on and Billy is a great character for him.
AFF: OK Go has a bunch of songs and even appears in the film. How did that come about?
KH: A friend gave me their album while we were writing JUNK and Ramon and I just started listening to it over and over again, while finishing the script. During this time, we’d take a break and have lunch down the street in North Hollywood at this cafe every day. One day we realized the gentleman sitting next to us was the drummer for OK Go. So I approached him and he was kind enough to pass the script along to the rest of the band.
AFF: Our Screenplay deadline is coming up (May 1st, Late Deadline June 1st). Any advice on how to do one last polish on your screenplay?
KH: Do a live reading if you can. Get some actors to read parts in front of a small audience (not just your group of friends) but strangers who might be more objective and honest. Ask the hard questions, take the notes and don’t send off your script unless you are sure that every sentence, every line of dialog, every beat, works. You can’t polish a turd, and if you don’t have a great script you’ll never have a good movie.
AFF: Your film is full of crazy pitches. What’s the worst idea you’ve ever come up with? How far did you get on it?
KH: The worst idea we ever had was to remake Waxwork (1988). We got really far with it, made a pitch video, look book, the whole deal. We went to the high ups at Lionsgate and did an in person pitch. It’s a terrible idea but could actually make for an awesome movie…. if that makes sense.
Every first Monday at the Alamo Village, AFF will bring one of its Audience Award-winning films back to town, along with the filmmakers who made them, to showcase the very best in independent filmmaking. From humor to horror, docs to narrative, there will be something for everyone, and, as always, each film represents Austin Film Festival’s mission to emphasize the art and craft of screenwriting and engaging cinematic storytelling.
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