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“It’s not a porno,” insists Karen Zamperini. “I know: Washington Interns Gone Bad. It sounds that way, but it’s a comedy.” Nonetheless, as dominatrix Mistress
Bridgette, the normally sweet-looking actress spends much of the locally produced film sporting a vinyl hot-pants-and-bustier combo and flogging obliging government leaders.
“I wanted to do something in the Zucker Brothers/Girls Gone Wild/Russ Meyer genre,” explains Interns’ director, Jason Buckley. “And then one night I was at the Common Share watching this totally trashed intern dance on the bar, and it just came to me.”
Buckley envisions the movie, his first feature-length project, as a cautionary tale: a story with lots of boobs and drugs but also a message. “It’s a little bit Monica, a little bit Chandra,” he says. “Well, Chandra if things had just gone differently. A young girl comes to Washington to make a difference, and then she gets slapped in the face. Literally.”
Local musician and first-time film actor Marisa Torrieri stars as Becky, a small-town girl who moves to the big city to be a congressional intern. Elizabeth Croydon, who last year appeared in local filmmaker Quentin Kelly’s North of Dupont, plays Elizabeth, chief of staff for fictional Democratic congressman Dick Ford-Brainston.
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Elizabeth trains Becky in the ways of the Hill, which include lying to constituents, ignoring the congressman’s cross-dressing proclivities, and rumbling with Republicans. When a fight breaks out with a conservative stuffed shirt (played by InTowner reporter David Barrows) over the proper denomination of rolled-up currency a lady should snort her cocaine with, Elizabeth whacks his bespectacled head off with a machete, invoking Green Party shadow-representative candidate Adam Eidinger’s campaign slogan, “Four eyes on the prize.” (Eidinger also makes a cameo.)
The film took Buckley and cinematographer John Griffiths three months to shoot on digital video and four more to tweak with desktop effects and editing programs. “We basically taught ourselves as we went,” laughs the 30-year-old Buckley, a Web designer for the Washington-based Co-op America. “We got a lot better toward the end.”
Because of Buckley’s minimal budget, actors performed for free and the crew purchased props and other equipment only when absolutely necessary. “We improvised dolly shots by taping the camera to a bicycle—stuff like that,” the director says.
Clips from Interns screened last month at the District of Columbia Arts Center, and Buckley recently presented the final cut for a possible premiere at Art-O-Matic later this month. He also plans to submit the film to indie film fests TromaDance and Nodance, as well as to the more straitlaced Project Greenlight.
Meanwhile, Buckley and his collaborators already have plans for a Wild in the Streets-esque sequel. “The World Bank privatizes the federal government, but the Anti-Capitalist Convergence retaliates by developing this psilocybin aerosol spray,” Croydon explains gravely. “So you see, the sequel will be much more political.” —Shauna Miller