JOY KEVIN directed by Caleb Johnson /2014 / 62 minutes / Color & Black & White

jkre3It’s kind of interesting and sad how when two people are going through the same struggle, not only do they not always want to relate to each other, but they can tend to make the situation worse for each other. Caleb Johnson’s debut feature film, JOY KEVIN, explores this kind of relationship.

The story follows Joy (Tallie Medel) and Kevin (Jordan Clifford) as they both struggle to survive as artists. Joy is a dancer and choreographer and Kevin is a stand-up comic. Both are trying ardently and are passionate but their passion isn’t translating into a solid income flow. On a daily basis, Kevin tries to cope with his own issues by seeing a therapist (played by Brendan Clifford, who seems to be his brother – which adds a surreal element) and then later he begin’s seeing another  ‘healer,’ Bridgett Choura.

What starts off as a sort of quirky situational comedy, swiftly evolves into a sad ballad of a marriage gone sour. The run time is short for a feature film at just over an hour, but where some low budget films would fill up space with filler scenes, JOY KEVIN gets right to the point. Johnson’s direction is particularly inspired when he lets the actors walk in an almost static frame saying nothing but suggesting everything. The first scene is a dance number (Mumble Core style), where we first take in JOY who is just that: JOY! She dances around the room in love with life.

joykevin1Because of a low budget and a lack of production value a lot of films would seem sparse, but JOY KEVIN sticks out because of the creative framing and staging.

I first heard of this film on the website: They offer a curated platform for films made under a $200k budget, were started a few years ago by Mumble Core filmmaker Kentucker Audley, and every month they seem to put out more and more innovative low budget works.

JOY KEVIN is also streaming on Vimeo for free. Watch the trailer here.