Hank & Asha is a simple story about two lonely people, one a student far from home in Prague, and one an aspiring filmmaker, far from home in New York. Through video chats the two meet and fall in love. It sort of has a similar plot to Lost in Translation, which I personally didn't enjoy much. I think Lost in Translation was less about lonely people, and more about bored people, and I don’t think bored people make good subjects for movies.
The entire story of Hank and Asha is told through their video messages. While this format could quickly become tedious, in the able hands of first time writer/director/producer James E. Duff it soars with personality, charm, and an innocence that I find lacking in most independent films.
|Director James E. Duff directs Andrew Pastides (Hank)|
The biggest compliment I can ever give a film is that I’m jealous of it. I was definitely jealous of Hank & Asha. Jealous if the idea, of the skill displayed by its creators, and jealous of how much fun it seemed to make.
I was fortunate enough to sit down with James and his wife/co-writer/editor/producer, Julia Morrison, for a few seconds in Park City to get some of the details. James and Julia said that they wanted to make a movie that was personal and true to who they were. That said, they don’t seem to be cynical folks, but seem to be a genuinely happy couple with a positive outlook on life. Though the film isn’t autobiographical, it has autobiographical elements (Asha is a student at the Prague school where James and Julia taught for two years). The film that people seem to be comparing it to is Once, which James admits he saw four times in the theater.
The film was shot over twenty-one days: ten in Prague, followed by eleven in New York. Their DP, Bianca, came with them to Prague, but other than that, they had a Prague crew and a New York crew. That crew consisted of some co-producers, their DP, an assistant camera person/gaffer, a single person art crew and a mixer. Julia said her one regret was not having a location manager. This is a role that is so frequently overlooked. As a former location manager I am always cutting that line item thinking I’m going to save money if I do it myself. I vow to the world, right here and now, that I will never do it again. You want a location manager. You NEED a location manager. There’s so much you as a producer have to focus on, without worrying about the location, or staying behind to clean the toilet.
Their locations were mostly friends’ places, restaurants and bars where friends worked, etc. But both New York, and especially Prague, are shown off and exploited for all their gorgeous effect.
|The lovely and talented Mahira Kakkar (Asha)|
So the takeaway: Make a movie that reflects your heart. Don’t worry about following the latest trend or worrying about what people want to see or what festivals want to program. Make it personal, and hopefully that personality and passion will reflect on the screen. James and Julia’s personality is one I’d be happy to return to again and again.
For more information go to http://hankandasha.com.