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As part of its local filmmaker series, West End Cinema is showing Kalamity beginning tonight. The darkly dramatic film about obsession, vengeance, and murder is the latest by local writer and director James M. Hausler. The tale follows two friends as one slowly loses his mind and drags everyone who cares about him into a spiral of violence. Hausler’s last film came out in 2006, so it’s been a while since we’ve seen his name at the cinema. The filmmaker took a moment to chat with Arts Desk about the project.
Washington City Paper: When did this all begin?
James M. Hausler: The writing probably began in late 2007.
WCP: It’s been a few years since your last film. Was that intentional?
JMH: Not necessarily. Kalamity was shot in 2008, so the gap is not as big as it seems. I tend to make writing my priority—-I probably write two or three screenplays between films and pick the best one.
WCP: If the film was shot in 2008, why did it take so long to release?
JMH: Well, it was shot in May of 2008, and post-production carried it into 2009. The whole process just took a while. No one was looking to put out independent films in 2009. It had nothing to do with where we screened it, just when the recession hit, no one was interested in independent films.
WCP: Where did you get the idea for the film?
JMH: Well, after I had gotten out of a long relationship I came back to Fairfax.
WCP: Were there any other particular films that inspired or influenced you as you were working on Kalamity?
JMH: I can’t think of any direct influences. I watched a lot of Twin Peaks growing up. That may have affected me.
WCP: As a lower-budget production, how did you go about casting?
JMH: Well, Robert Forrester has a small part. He’s a good friend, and when I wrote that part, I knew he had to play it. I’ve always been a fan of Nick Stahl, and he read the screenplay and agreed to do it. The rest was pretty much by the books. I was not familiar with some of the actors until we started shooting, but I was really happy with how they worked out.
WCP: Were there any surprises or challenges you came across while working on Kalamity that you felt really pushed you to grow as a filmmaker?
JMH: I can’t think of anything in specific, but any time spent working on film contributes to a lot of growth.
WCP: What kind of filmgoers do you think it caters to?
JMH: It’s definitely different, so I don’t know. I guess, people who are looking for something different.
Kalamity opens tonight at West End Cinema.