Creating a Mumblecore: Joseph Austin II’s Inspiration That Led Him to Win “Best Feature” for CCBFF 2020

Grab some popcorn and learn more about our “Best Feature” winner for the 2020 Capital City Black Film Festival. Joseph Austin II’s 85-minute piece Sundays in July took home the prize.

His film explores the evolving relationship between a young couple in three acts. Each act shows a different layer of intimacy and vulnerability present in most modern relationships. Poet Denise Yolén’s sharp lyricism adds a rhythmic tinge to the work. 

Sundays in July official poster

To get creative insight into Joseph’s filmmaking process, we caught up with him to talk about his inspirations for bringing this film to life, and the spirit of collaboration that powers Sundays in July.

CCBFF: Can you talk about the moment that inspired you to make this film? It could have been a song, a news report or anything.  

Joseph: “I was inspired to make this film after watching Barry Jenkins’ 2008 debut feature, “Medicine for Melancholy.” [It’s] my favorite film and I started thinking to myself what would my version of a mumblecore feature look like? Then, I called Denise Yolén and asked if she had any two-person ideas and she did, [so] we spent the subsequent months developing [and producing] the story, and as they say, the rest is history!”  

CCBFF: Can you speak about issues you faced casting the film and pulling it off during COVID-19? If you filmed before the pandemic, how much harder do you think it would be to get your project done now as opposed to then?  

Joseph: “I’m so happy we didn’t have to make this film during the pandemic. The responsibility of keeping cast and crew safe during these times would have taken away from my creativity. I never want to put anyone in harm’s way. Our film was ultra-low budget, so it would have made getting daily tests and [personal protective equipment] (PPE) extremely hard. To those who are making films during this time and doing it safely, I applaud you!”  

CCBFF: Did making this film help you learn any important lessons along the way? It could be about yourself as a filmmaker, the filmmaking process, or about current events.  

Joseph: “Making Sundays in July helped me learn many important lessons. The biggest lesson was that anything is truly possible when you believe. We made this film very modestly and with limited resources. Though we lacked financial resources, we filled that gap with our creativity and ingenuity. As a filmmaker, it’s so empowering to know that it’s possible to make a film on an ultra-low budget [and still have] a profound impact on audiences. I hope more filmmakers take heed to this lesson and know that they have the power to green light their films and bring them into the world.”  

CCBFF: If you could have the audience walk away with one important message, what would it be and why? 

Joseph: “The important message I would have viewers of my film walk away with is the importance of transparency in our relationship. Transparency builds trust and eradicates many issues that plagued relationships. That goes for romantic, professional, and everyday personal relationships.” 

CCBFF: What’s in your film future? Are there any projects you’re working on, imagining, etc.? 

Joseph: “I’m currently developing my next feature film which I hope to shoot once our country’s health crisis is over.” 

CCBFF: How can people keep up with you online? 

Joseph: “People can find me on Instagram and Twitter, and visit my film’s website here.”

Did you know that our film festival also welcomes music videos? Find out about Benjamin Redic’s II’s winning music video “Rompers” in the Reel Blog as well.