Interview with Filmmaker Damián Apunte (THE ASTONAUT)

Directed by Damián Apunte
Seven-year-old Aura loves everything space. She looks out her window, wishing she could escape the surrounding smog that’s causing her asthma. Her vivid imagination keeps her spirit alive. Every Sunday, she dresses up like an astronaut and takes her abuelita to the lighthouse, in hopes that one day it’ll turn into a space shuttle. Today is the day her dreams come true, she becomes an astronaut.

Get to know the filmmaker:

1. What motivated you to make this film?
The westside of Long Beach is close to the Port and is known to have far higher air pollution and asthma rates. So many children suffer from poor air quality and most of the residents in that area are minorities. Being Latino myself, I felt compelled to tell an escapism story of a little girl that wants to leave her problems behind. Space has always fascinated me too, and I tend to look at structures around me that inspire futuristic space travel.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
I started writing the project in April and we wrapped post production in mid July.

3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
Space Adventure

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
The make shift space suit was tough because we wanted it to feel like it was homemade, but it also fell apart since it was literally made from tin foil and tape. Our production designer did an incredible job, it was just tough for our star to walk around in it.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
I melted. It was so wonderful seeing how the audience got every detail about the film. It’s short and sweet but they really noticed the depth that it took to piece it together. And I really loved how they recognized every element from acting to cinematography and production design. It takes a village to make a film. Thanks for this.

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
I was in high school taking a college English class. We had to write several creative papers and my professor kept telling me that all my stories sounded so cinematic. I grew up in a small town so I never thought filmmaking was even a possibility for me. The moment I tried directing in college, I knew it was what I had to do.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
The Crow

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
Any film industry connections or getting films in front of execs. But honestly you all are doing a fantastic job!

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
It’s been such a pleasure and so easy. Couldn’t be happier.

10. What is your favorite meal?
Locro is an Ecuadorian soup and it just reminds me of my family, of home.

11. What is next for you? A new film?
I’m working on The Heart of Long Beach, an anthology feature where I’m inviting directors from all over Long Beach to help capture the essence of the city that has shaped me so much. I want it to be a platform for others to create.


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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