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BGON – Junkman Creators Talk Trash

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Earlier this week we showcased boutique Canadian agency Feast Interactive and Alter Ego Films' director Ante Kovac's entertaining film starring Junkman, a guy who desperately needs to shed some clutter.

Created for BGON, a trading app where students can buy and sell stuff exclusively within their college community, and bearing the same dry humour the director brought to Kog, his delightful re-working of Honda's Cog, this hilarious short, Junkman follows the tricky travails of a chap so weighed down with clutter it covers every part of his body. 

The client gave the creatives and director carte blanche to unleash their imaginations on something quirky to catch the attention of their content-drenched core market – students - and below Kovac and creative director Rob Vena tell us about the making of the film.


Can you tell us how you came up with the concept for the film?

RV: The creative concept went through several iterations before coming to this one. Many ideas came and went but this was born one day when I was considering how many items we own that are just sitting around, not being used. This, along with the growing minimalist lifestyle movement led me to think, “what if everything we owned was literally a part of us?”.

I had a visual of various items randomly sticking to a student as he went along his daily life. I passed the idea along to Ante and the production team to see how we can massage the idea into something that was feasible within the small budget.

AK: Rob presented this concept to me, and, for some reason, this materialised in my mind as a person completely covered in their unwanted things. I had recently worked on a VR campaign and the drone operators were all wearing ghillie suits so this became the shape and inspiration for the suit.

"The reactions on the streets were incredible. Some people thought it was just a pile of junk, until he jumped at them!"

The humour is very pared down and subtle, much of it comes from the fact that, initially, nobody remarks upon the fact that Ricky is drowning in his own junk. It’s kind of about what is not said. Did you have any other scenarios or styles you were playing with, or that you cut out?

AK: We played with several drafts of the script. A slightly longer version existed but the final film is very close to the story we wanted to tell right from the start. The idea tonally was to keep things muted and allow our strange character to exist in a very normal world. I directed all of the talent to treat Ricky (Junkman) like a regular guy. His fellow students accept him for who he is but the problems that arise from carrying all of this junk quickly become apparent as he deals with normal student life.

RV: We were always on the same page in terms of tone and comedic style. We didn’t want it to be campy or over-the-top. I think the only thing that we pared down style-wise was minimidsing special effects, and keeping everything in situation. It made Ricky’s interactions with his friends and girlfriend feel real and visually interesting.

 

The scenes with the girlfriend and Ricky are very natural. Was there any improvisation?

AK: The actress (Juliana Rodrigues) is a stand-up comedian and I don’t believe she had done any film work prior to this short. I had her improvise in the cafeteria to keep things fresh and conversational. Because of her improv training, I knew she could pull it off. The bedroom scene at the end was scripted, but we played around with the physicality of the scene a little.

"In order to transport him between locations on the campus, we designed a custom wheelchair since walking any serious distance was impossible."

Tell me about how Ricky’s junk suit was created. It must have been heavy to wear...

RV: The suit took many months to perfect. It was initially designed with a lot more light-weight pieces but we felt that the items on Ricky needed to be comprised of items that a student would realistically want to buy from another University-aged student using the app. There were several versions and, as we perfected it, it became heavier and much more difficult to wear.

AK: The suit was designed by a costume designer in Toronto (Lea Krpan). The weight was so much that we decided to have one of our producers (Spencer Butt) wear the suit because we were extremely worried about having an actor wear it. While shooting, he almost passed out several times due to the weight and heat inside the suit. In order to transport him between locations on the campus, we designed a custom wheelchair since walking any serious distance was impossible and taking the suit on and off was a very lengthy process.

 

What were the challenges involved in making the film?

AK: The budget was tighter than we would have liked, but since there was so much creative freedom from the client I was able to attract A-list talent in all of the key positions. And of course, the junk suit was a huge challenge!

RV: The suit for sure. I want to thank everyone who put their free time into this project with such a limited budget. It was a great collaborative effort from all.

 

What else has Junkman been up to?

RV: While we were developing the suit and waiting for spring to descend upon Toronto, we thought it would be a great little teaser to get some footage of Junkman walking the streets. We got some students to share on their networks to get a little buzz going.

AK: We shot the series of videos using an iPhone. The reactions on the streets were incredible. Spencer was wearing the suit at that time as well, and was having fun with it. Some people thought it was just a pile of junk, until he jumped at them! Others thought it was animatronics.

 

Will there be any more Junkman adventures?

AK: Maybe. But my fear is if I mention the word sequel, the producer who was in the suit and the costume designer would not return my calls. 

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