Kevin Hamedani [Interview]

Kevin Hamedani2
The world of independent filmmaking is rapidly changing and, in so many ways, improving.  Much like the heyday in the 90’s, there is so much talent lurking behind the big red curtain of Hollywood that have so much damn talent that it is almost ridiculous.  Only these days, it seems easier to get recognized.  Of course this is not an all inclusive observation as there are definitely still thousands of un-tapped souls out there trying to “break through”, whatever that really means these days.
One fine soul who has managed to move beyond the curtain and create some amazing work in his own way is the illustrious Kevin Hamedani.  Back in 2009 he brought the world his brilliant take on the zombie takeover with his excellent debut Zombies of Mass Destruction.  And most recently he takes on the world of film festivals with his amazing new feature, Junk.  The greatest bit of irony being that Kevin has had some great success in the film festival world.  But, that is enough explaining, lets talk to Kevin himself to see what he thinks of this day and age of filmmaking and what it means to be an artist in his time.  So check it out!
What initially drew you in to the world of filmmaking?

I remember being about 7 years old and watching Back to the Future over and over again. I then started writing short stories around that time. So I’d say at a very young age I just knew, for better or worse, that I was obsessed with movies and wanted to make my own.

You made your directoral debut in a feature film with 2009’s Zombies of Mass Destruction.  How was that experience?  What sort of things did you learn as a first timer in the feature film directing?

It was a great experience but also very frustrating. I knew very little about how a film set worked so I made a lot of mistakes. Luckily I had a wonderfully talented and experience DP John Guleserian who helped me make it through. One big lesson I learned from him was when I was blocking a scene and I had the actors stand close together like it were a stage play. That’s when the DP said: “This isn’t a play! Why are they standing next to each other!” That was a HUGE wake up call. I learned then that you can and should use the space around you because the camera will find the actor…big lesson.

How did you come up with the idea for your latest film, Junk?

My co-writer Ramon Isao and I were at the Austin Film Festival in 2009 for ZMD when we  met another filmmaking duo who had a similar  script they wanted to pitch to a big actor guest at that year’s fest. That planted the seed for JUNK. That and the fact I had done a year of film festivals and that world is bizarre, incredibly exciting and filled with colorful characters. I had yet to see a movie that took place at a fest so that was the final push to make JUNK.

Junk1Where you at all surprised about the backlash several film festivals gave the film by not letting it in?Yes, very. I did a private screening once the film was complete in Los Angeles,  A friend of mine, Scott Sanders (who directed Black Dynamite) took me aside after the screening and told me how impressed he was. That was big coming from him because Sanders is the most brutally honest friend I know. But then he said we probably screwed ourselves w/ film festivals by making a movie about it. I didn’t believe him but eventually I realized he was right. Even my hometown of Seattle rejected JUNK w/out so much as a rejection email. I think this movie really pissed some programmers off. That’s too bad. i thought they’d have a sense of humor but they take themselves very seriously. The ironic thing is that I made this movie with love for film festivals, but the reaction has lead me to really despise that whole world. So many great films fall through the cracks due to politics, lack of star power, etc…

What was it like wearing all those damn hats during the making of Junk?  Do you think you would do it again?

It wasn’t fun. I will never act and direct again unless I have a bigger budget.

Is there any other aspect of filmmaking, or any other field in general, that you are interested in jumping in as well?  Stunt player, maybe?  Craft services?  Anything? 

Music composing would be the only other job on a film that I could potentially do. I love music and play a little but I’m not very good so it wouldn’t be that great.

You had a stellar supporting cast on Junk, including James Hong, Brett Davern, Jake Johnson, and so many more.  How happy were you with the cast and the supporting characters?  Did you manage to have your vision told accurately through the characters?  

I am so happy w/ my cast. Leads and supporting. I managed, somehow, to keep my vision intact.  With the supporting cast and the colors they bring to JUNK, it resembles the crazy world I intended to create.

I am told you are a Seattle native.  Being from the Northwest as well, I have to ask…..What sort of influence to you think your homeland has on your work, if any?

The Northwest has a beautiful, gloomy feel to it which is why I’ve shot both my features there. It’s a beautiful place with an underlying haunting, cold pulse that brings more layers to your work than you intended.

What is next for you?  Any new projects in the works?

I have a few projects in development. I hope this family drama called Prince Ali moves forward. It’d be a great change to do something that isn’t a comedy

Junk2What was the last thing that made you smile?That’s a hard one….I don’t know.  I met Vince Gilligan recently and had a nice long chat with him about The X-Files, Breaking Bad, etc… I had a smile for a week after that….

About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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