Interview with Filmmaker Andy Heck (JUNKIN’)

JUNKIN’, 17min., USA
Directed by Andy Heck
Mike Heck seeks redemption after suffering most of his life with alcoholism, depression, and hoarding disorder.

Get to know the filmmaker:

1. What motivated you to make this film?

When I found out that my father had the opportunity to attend a rehab program instead of going to prison, I knew that it was a story I wanted to share. I wasn’t sure if he’d actually be able to commit to sobriety but I am a huge believer in rehabilitation and a huge non-believer in our prison system. My father has been in trouble for his drinking several times before and if he could go through this with a positive outcome, I believed it would be a story worth telling. And if his story is a success, so many others can be helped through similar programs and the positive experience my father is able to share today. If this film can help one person overcome addiction, I feel like I accomplished something.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

I started this project in 2016. Through the pandemic and some personal setbacks, I took a break from it a few times but in total, it took me 6 years. It took a lot longer than expected but in the end, I was able to share a more complete story.

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

Redemption, Inspirational

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

This film is an extremely personal story. I’ve always heard the advice that the interviewer should not know too much about the subject because they’ll tend to paraphrase their answers. I went with this theory 4 times and ended up with 3 interviews that weren’t what I was looking for. On the fifth interview, I decided to finally ask the questions myself and through a deep conversation, I was able to get my father to share the full, unfiltered, story.

I also had some troubles in the edit when it came to removing content. I knew I wanted this film to be a short. I had about 5 hours of interview footage that I cut down to 45 minutes. At this point, I was unsure of what to cut but my friend and documentary producer, Julie McElmurry sat with me and helped me make those tough decisions to get the content of the film down below 20 minutes. She helped me formulate an objective perspective on the story I wanted to share.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

I was nervous to hear the audience reactions. I generally don’t take feedback too personal but it isn’t possible with this project. The reactions were mostly positive and I especially appreciate the detailed feedback about elements of the film.

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

I’ve had an interest in video for a long time. Filming skits with my cousins when we were little and filming action sports with my friends for years. I went to school for video/multimedia in 2009-2013 where I really started to take it more seriously. And then in the last 6 or 8 years, I’ve really connected with storytelling. Whether that be narrative or documentary filmmaking, I enjoy sharing stories that make a difference.

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

This is a really tough one because I honestly don’t watch movies enough as I should but I would say the Back to the Future series. Mainly the original film and not really for any specific reason other than enjoying the story and sci-fi element.

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

As someone who is very involved in every step of the process, it would be interesting to have specific feedback round specific elements of the films.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

I haven’t had any problems with Film Freeway. It is nice to have a single place to submit to almost any festival in a simple way.

10. What is your favorite meal?

Crab legs – I’ve been mostly vegetarian now for a few years but that’s one thing I haven’t been able to give up!

11. What is next for you? A new film?

I am working on the next film. I don’t want to share too much but it is a subculture documentary and it will be pure entertainment. I am usually drawn to meaningful stories with a hard lesson but I’m going a different direction on this one and I can’t wait to finish it.


By matthewtoffolo

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

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