by Faruq Oyekan
Though it may sound like an up and coming board game from Milton & Bradley, or a reincarnation of Jumanji for the digital screen. Banjaxed instead is a 2014 Seattle True Independent Film Award winning short film by director and writer Nicodemus Antonio Montez.
This film tells a story that is an embodiment of its title, which, according to Urban Dictionary is an adjective for being “broken down with little hope of repair”.
Just as with what the title implies, the story follows suit. In Banjaxed we get the story of a young girl, and an her older father who gain the acquaintance of each other after finding refuge in an empty living room during what appears to be an Easter party. The two then proceed to bond over shots of tequila, and stories of teenage sexual exploits and drunken adventures.
This film is aesthetically pleasing, and beautifully shot. Despite the fact that the film majorly takes place in an around a kitchen table, the director takes visually interesting approaches in filming the characters.
The music heard in this film is perfect for the film’s tone, and at times it greatly showcases the various changes in mood, and tempo in the short.
Though the father, and daughter aspect is never quite there in the film, what we do get is a hint of a budding relationship between the two main characters. The young female lead, and her older male co-star feel right for each other, and as they both tell their stories one cannot help but to feel both sorry yet also intrigued with the lifestyles they represent. For the seven minute peek we get into the characters’ lives, we get the sense that these characters may be the future source of their own demise, though this may sound sad, for the viewer it’s an interesting ride.
Check out Nicodemus’ latest film The Best Halloween Ever premiering at the NOLA Horror Film Festival later this month.
Here's a link to the film's page and you can watch the trailer here:
First of all, how long have you been film making? What got you interested?
I've been making movies for only 4 years. Most of that time has been spent at The University of Texas at Arlington. I got interested in high school when I enrolled in a video tech class. Around that time, I actually paid attention to the Oscars and researched about the people who made movies.
Along with writing/directing and producing, I am a working director of photography and camera assistant.
How'd you come up with the plot for this film?
The plot for Banjaxed is an offshoot from real relationships I've had. The story was also developed to put my family in, which ties into your next question.
Any interesting behind the scene stories?
We shot the film at my uncle's house during Easter. My extended family was invited to participate in the Easter celebration sequence that eventually got cut from the film. This was completed as my senior thesis at UTA. I learned a very important lesson when making Banjaxed, which is to never fall in love with your project. Be prepared to kill your babies. The film you shoot isn't the script you wrote, and the final film isn't exactly what you shot.
What was the casting process like?
There wasn't a casting process, since I had worked with both of these actors before. I felt pressed for time and offered Tim and Andrea the parts. I guess the casting process was my film school as it was through there that I met my leads.
Was there any deeper meaning you tried to address through your film?
I don't think there is a deeper meaning to the film. I was influenced by Paul Thomas Anderson's films, primarily Punch-Drunk Love. I wanted to explore a weird connection that a father and daughter might have. Sure, it's crippling alcoholism, but it's still love and there is still something sweet there. The kind of connection doesn't matter because in the end, it's all love.
The music really fits the film well, what went into its selection? Did the music have any influence in the progression of the story?
The music is great, I can safely say that since I didn't make it. That was Black Carl, and they were very helpful in donating their music to my small film. Their songs were brought to my attention in post by my Editor/Producer, Michael. We got lucky in finding the perfect music for our film. We are actually in pre-production for a music video for them. They are among the best people.
You've touched on this briefly already, but what is it like film making now after having made this film? Has your approach changed?
I definitely learned a lot while making this movie. With every film I get better at working with my actors and my creative crew. I know more of what's expected of them and more importantly, what's expected of me. But I learned a lot about filmmaking logistics and taking care of a crew as it was the first time I had taken a crew out of town. We were a Dallas based crew and the film was shot in Pflugerville, TX (just outside of Austin). Once again, I was learning what was expected of me as a producer and how I could deliver a tolerable experience for my crew. Filmmaking is about the art, but it is a collaborative effort.
I also learned about working with anamorphic lenses, which helped me not only as a director but as a DP as well.