What Would Avalon Fast Do?

WWAFD? What’s more metal than making a movie with no budget, no equipment, and no plan?

By Brooke Metayer


I suffer from the not-too-uncommon habit of leveraging self-doubt to talk my way out of things. I don’t have the resources. It’s nothing new anyways. Who cares what I think? It would just be so much easier to not. Can I scroll on TikTok now?

I’m finding myself in one of those spirals right now as I stare at this stupid Google Doc, the stagnant cursor’s rhythmic blinking taunting me for not being able to think of anything worth typing out, even impermanently. Breaking from that depressing scene to calculate just how much longer I can put this off before I can't make my deadline, and calculating just how much I would hate myself if I abandoned this piece and any dreams of sharing my writing forever. Yeah sure, I’m constantly chasing the feeling of forming the perfect string of words to immortalize my ideas, but what if I’m out of ideas? I want to create things, but what if I don’t have what it takes?

But then I thought… “What would Avalon Fast do?”

I was introduced to the 21-year-old Canadian filmmaker while getting ready to watch HONEYCOMB, Fast’s debut feature, which premiered at Slamdance Film Festival this year. After watching all 70 minutes of the experimental project, I knew I had to talk to her. Because even though this lo-fi indie film features floral dresses and idyllic sunshine, it screams grit, persistence, and overall badassery.

What’s more metal than making a movie with no budget, no equipment, and no plan?

Fast from interveiw with Horror Obsessive 

HONEYCOMB, best described as “DIY hangout movie meets cult horror with a coming-of-age twist,” follows a group of girls on Cortes Island off British Columbia who escape their boring lives of watching boys skate and working at ice cream shacks to move into an abandoned cabin in the woods. They create their own state with rules and rituals as they search for independence and interior meaning. But each day they stray further and further from innocence as details of their unwinding civility are slowly uncovered until bloody events transpire.

While watching HONEYCOMB, I felt the earnest passion of those involved. Each scene is rich with layers of intimacy and substance that communicate an abundance of collaboration and connection between those in front and behind the camera—a theory confirmed to me when Fast shared that the group of friends in the film is still extremely close as she video chatted with me from the house that half of them share now.

“I think for everyone, there was a mutual want to tell this story, and I also don’t think my friends wanted to deal with how sad I would be if it didn’t get finished,” Fast said.

While it was produced, edited, and directed by Fast and co-written with her close friend, Emmett Roiko, there was also collaboration behind the scenes. She shared that Jillian Frank, who plays Jules (an original girl cult member) called her up one day with the idea for the line, “Don’t pray for serenity, pray for chaos.” Cast member Henri Gillespi acted as the assistant director on set as well. Not to mention, the script was written with the friend group in mind to play each of the characters in the ensemble.

Because of this support and collaboration, Fast was able to put into action what many young artists with ambitions of rising to the ranks of Greta Gerwig and Sofia Coppola dream of. She bought a handheld camera with an automatic zoom function, turned a friend’s old family cabin into a set, and got to work.

Her unfledged desire to create resulted in stylistic choices that only inexperience can deliver.

“Other than the script, we didn’t have any production plans like a shot list or anything, we’d show up at the location we decided for the day and then take turns messing around with the camera to see what looked cool,” said Fast.

What also made the impossible possible was her ability to leverage physical or financial restrictions to tell the story in a bold way that ended up being more comprehensive and visually interesting.

HONEYCOMB is scrappy, but it makes sense,” she said. “If we made this story with my friends as actors and me as an amateur director with this high quality equipment, it wouldn’t have matched. Everything was new to us and it all came together in the end.”

Though she had no formal education in filmmaking at the time, the DVD case-lined wall that served as a backdrop to Fast’s framed face on our video chat screen conveyed a clear love for visual storytelling that comes across in HONEYCOMB. When prompted to share her influences, I expected Fast to name works like MIDSOMMAR, LORD OF THE FLIES, and MANDY. However, at the time of writing and shooting HONEYCOMB, Fast had yet to become familiar with these films.

“It gets compared to MIDSOMMAR a lot, but I remember watching the trailer for that after I’d already written the script,” she said.

Instead of looking to other pieces of media, she drew inspiration from her own experiences growing up and spending summers at the peaceful tourist destination that is Cortes Island. In addition to her own physical perspectives, Fast’s fascination with uncovering the evil lurking within beautiful things, especially within young women coming into their own, compelled her to make this film.

“There is something about young women figuring themselves out that is kind of scary and evil,” said Fast.

What makes Fast such an interesting filmmaker isn’t her natural cinematography skills or how she paces a scene to create just the right amount of tension, but her unflinching ability to know what she wants and how to make it happen. Which is why HONEYCOMB is more than some “lethal girl cult” horror movie—it is a testament to the beauty that comes from trusting yourself and trusting the process.