NEW YORK – Your name is Austin, you are 34 years old, and your life is a shambles. What is your next move? It’s obvious: Become a movie stunt man.
What follows in Diwali Dream Garage, the film short created by Johnny Pik and Chrysa Pikramenos that will be screened at the Queens World Film Festival on March 20 at 10 PM, promises to be painful, touching – and funny.
The film’s message is that no matter how old or where you are in your life, follow your dreams, and that anything is possible. It is set in Queens in the 1980s and many of the characters have roots in the Indian subcontinent.
Pik and Pikramenos – it’s the same name, they are a brother and sister team who run PikTV production – wrote the film together. He also directed it and both of them produced it.
Austin, played by Baltsar Beckeld “is a 34 year-old screw-up whose childhood dream is to become a stunt man. He can’t figure out why he is not moving forward, and that’s where his Indian friend Reggie, played by Ankit Dogra, comes in, who sends him back in time on the night of Diwali so he can discover what is holding him back,” Pik told TNH.
Tommy Howard plays young Austin.
Pikramenos explained that Diwali is a Hindu festival of lights. “On the night of Diwali something happens,” and Austin has a life-altering dream.
While the movie does not have Greek elements – it could, the siblings are proud of their Hellenic roots and are Greek school survivors – the immigrant experience and the American dream that permeated their lives also informs it.
Their father Eleftherios who first immigrated to Australia but then decided American was the place for him. He is from Kos and their mother, Catherine, is from the village of Prasino, near Tripoli.
They lived with many relatives in a building in Astoria that was purchased by their family.
The movie with the theme “life is short” is partly a tribute to their father, who was killed in a hit-and-run accident in 2003 at age 54.
Pik, two years older, is a mechanical engineer who is director of product development for a medical device company. At the time they lost their father his sister was a teacher, but seeds planted in childhood seemed to germinate in response to their loss.
Pikramenos had set aside her childhood writing dreams but she became inspired to write about the ideas were bubbling up. Pik told TNH his sister loved appearing in school plays– he remembers her in Guys and Dolls and Annie. “She always had a passion for acting and she got involved in all that before I did.”
Pikramenos added that “Johnny pursed acting for a time. That’s why he came up with the name Johnny Pik.”
He always loved film but he never was driven to pursue it as a career. About eight years ago he felt an urge to develop his creative side and made an amateur film about a vacation with friends.
Diwali Dream Garage,” is approximately 15 minutes long. They chose to make a comedy, she said, “because we are just like that…our personalities, and my dad like to joke around a lot.”
Philosophy and psychology are personal interests and thoughts about life also shape the movie.
“Another theme is that tragic things happen in life, but it’s good to laugh at things and see the humor in life,” Pikramenos said.
She believes things happen for reasons, “but I also think you have the power to make things happen yourself. It’s not just fate, or that things just happen…you have to pay attention to what happens…you have to look at your part in it and what you do. You are not just an innocent bystander.”
Going deeper, she said that what happens to people are signs of larger issues in their lives, “But then you have to do something about them…to bring you to the place where you should be.”
But obstacles are real, and they go deep. Freud uses an iceberg metaphor, and Pik, like the former, points to the forgotten past. “A lot of times in life, things that happen in the past have control over the future, they can create obstacles.
Austin’s dream can be seen as psychotherapy and Pik.
The sibling’s ideas are big, and they want to make a big movie. They have a finished script for a feature-length film for which the short is a springboard for fundraising.
Pikramenos freelances while she is hard at work promoting the film on the festival circuit.
Emmy award winner Sergei Franklin is the cinematographer and the movie, which won award of merit in the Best Shorts competition and was selected to screen at the Garden State Film Festival.
For more information visit: www.piktv.tv