Avalon Fast was a young director to watch at this year’s Fantasia, bringing her 2022 feature “Honeycomb” to the Canadian fest as well as upcoming horror “CAMP,” presented in Frontieres’ official selection.
Set to be produced by Michael Peterson (Peterson Polaris Corp), Peter Kuplowsky (Lowsky Productions), Taylor Nodrick and Fast herself, it will see a camp counselor for troubled youth who, reeling from a past tragedy, starts suspecting her female colleagues of witchcraft in service of a woodland spirit.
The project, currently in advanced development, will allow the audience to feel a “real sense of magic,” promises Fast.
“I want it to be bold,” she tells Variety.
“I love [Nicolas Cage-starrer] ‘Mandy’, which has been a huge inspiration. Having a bigger budget allowed me to finally incorporate some ideas I have been storing away. I want people to keep wondering if my protagonist is losing her mind or if these supernatural things are really happening. By the end, you will know.”
While “nervous” about moving onto bigger productions, Fast – who has directed, produced, co-written and edited “Honeycomb” – is ready to give up some control in the future.
“Before, I was in charge of so much. I think I resented it sometimes. With ‘CAMP,’ I know there is going to be a lot more collaboration, but I still want the kind of crew I can be friends with.”
Friendship was on her mind also when developing both stories, as Fast continues to talk about women and their complicated connections. “Honeycomb,” about to be released on Blu-ray by Gold Ninja Video, features a group of girls leaving everything behind one summer and heading to remote countryside where no one can control them. Apart from themselves, it turns out, as their social experiment turns sour.
“I am heavily, heavily inspired by my girlfriends,” she admits.
The film’s cast and crew also consisted of the people she knew. Who, as revealed in humorous post-credit scenes, quickly realized that making a film was no picnic.
“In ‘CAMP,’ you get to see the healing part of a friendship – when they first come together, it heals some of this character’s old wounds. In ‘Honeycomb’ you see maybe the opposite. They are tearing each other apart.”
Determined to show women in all their complexity, Fast won’t be shying away from their darker side anytime soon, however, or even cruelty they occasionally inflict on each other.
“The best thing about proper representation is when you can tell a story that’s not necessarily positive. Instead, it’s honest and genuine, and displays every aspect of human emotions,” she observes.
“There were multiple times when women helped me overcome things. There were also times when they were at the center of heartbreak.”
“I have been fascinated by these connections, when you love your friends but you are also jealous of them. That’s something I was going for in ‘Honeycomb,’ too,” she notes, listing her falling outs with female friends among “the most memorable, harrowing experiences” of her life.
“Growing up, I used to spend a lot of time on Cortes Island [where the film was shot]. That’s something I’ve always romanticized in my head when I was younger: ‘Screw all the boys – I want to run away with my girlfriends instead!’,” she laughs.
“You have this dream of being free and then it just doesn’t happen. You can never quite get there. I remember this feeling of dissatisfaction.”
But she did get to escape in the end, pretty much following into her characters’ footsteps.
“Right before I finished editing, the pandemic happened and we all got a place on that island with the same group of friends. Only to realize: ‘We are actually turning into these people!’ Luckily, nothing awful had happened.”