05 Nov 15 QUESTIONS & ANSWERS WITH DESIREE AKHAVAN
15 Questions and 15 Answers with APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR’s Director-writer-actress, Desiree Akhavan
BRIAN HU: GIVE US YOUR BEST 15-WORD PITCH FOR APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR.
DESIREE AKHAVAN: Woman struggles to win back her ex girlfriend and come out to her Iranian family.
HU: A LOT OF PEOPLE IN FILM HAVE MOVED ON TO WEB VIDEOS. WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO DO THE REVERSE?
AKHAVAN: It wasn’t a strategic choice, but one of necessity. I could make a web series for no money, pulling in favors and performing most of the roles (writer/director/producer/editor) along with my co-creator Ingrid Jungerman.
HU: YOUR CHARACTER IN THE FILM TEACHES MEDIA-MAKING TO KIDS. AT WHAT POINT DID YOU KNOW YOU WANTED TO MAKE FILMS?
AKHAVAN: I started writing plays around 9. I kept writing and performing in plays for years, but it wasn’t until I got to college that I considered filmmaking an option.
HU: HAVE YOU DONE ANY TEACHING YOURSELF?
AKHAVAN: A little bit and I’m absolutely horrible at it.
HU: WHAT DOES INDEPENDENT FILMMAKING MEAN TO YOU?
AKHAVAN: It means telling stories outside the norm of narratives we’ve seen regurgitated over and over again in mainstream films.
HU: COULD YOU SHARE A BEHIND-THE-SCENES STORY?
AKHAVAN: On our first day we were filming a scene where I had to throw a strap-on dildo and harness into a dumpster, only to pull it back out and walk away with it dangling from my hand. As soon as we had set up, a herd of trucks and their respective drivers arrived, and upon seeing me and my strap-on they assumed we were shooting a porn. They caused a big fuss and tried to shut us down. One man literally booed at me during a take.
HU: WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT SHOOTING IN NEW YORK?
AKHAVAN: The best thing about shooting in NY- the proximity to amazing crew and actors and of course it always looks spectacular.
HU: WHAT DO YOU LIKE LEAST ABOUT SHOOTING IN NEW YORK?
AKHAVAN: I hate always being in everyone’s way.
HU: FAVORITE NEW YORK MOVIES?
AKHAVAN: SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER/ ANNIE HALL/ KLUTE/ KRAMER VS KRAMER/ TOOTSIE/ PARIS IS BURNING… there are just too many to list.
HU: FAVORITE MOVIE ABOUT SECOND GENERATION IMMIGRANTS?
AKHAVAN: EAST IS EAST
HU: WHAT’S A MOVIE THAT RECENTLY MAKE YOU LAUGH?
AKHAVAN: The TO DO LIST. It reminded me of my favorite 80’s films like BETTER OFF DEAD.
HU: IF YOU WERE DANCING TO ANY SONG WHILE NOBODY WAS LOOKING, WHAT IT WOULD BE?
AKHAVAN: I do this quite a lot. Usually in the AM. Quite often naked. My top song is Shirley Ellis’ “The Clapping Song”.
HU: YOUR GO-TO FOOD TRUCK IN NEW YORK?
AKHAVAN: Cool Haus Ice Cream!
HU: YOUR GO-TO KARAOKE SONG?
AKHAVAN: This is the best question I’ve been asked in a long time. If I’m feeling performative I’ll go with “Wicked Game” (Chris Issak) & “Zero” (Yeah Yeah Yeahs).
HU: WHAT DO YOU LOOK FORWARD TO MOST AT THE SAN DIEGO ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL?
AKHAVAN: I’m excited to see Jess Dela Merced’s HYPEBEASTS!
Watch APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR and meet Desiree Akhavan at the San Diego Asian Film Festival on Saturday, November 8, 3:10pm at the UltraStar Cinemas, Mission Valley. Tickets, trailer, and more info available at this link.
Brian Hu is a film critic, teacher, and scholar. He serves as the Artistic Director of Pacific Arts Movement and the San Diego Asian Film Festival and is also Assistant Professor of Television, Film and New Media at San Diego State University.