Slamdance is buzzing with ‘Honeycomb,’ a coming-of-age horror film |

Slamdance is buzzing with ‘Honeycomb,’ a coming-of-age horror film

Filmmaker honored her debut feature was selected for the festival

Avalon Fast's coming-of-age horror feature, "Honeycomb," is part of the 2022 Slamdance Film Festival.
Courtesy of Exile PR

Avalon Fast loves making horror movies.

“I love telling people I make horror movies, because it weirds them out,” said the 21-year-old from Canada. “They are so fun to film. You can do them without a budget. And sometimes they are better because you don’t have resources, so you have to come up with weird ways to make things happen.”

Audiences will get a chance to see Fast’s feature-length debut horror film, “Honeycomb,” during this year’s virtual Slamdance Film Festival that runs through Feb. 6.

The lo-fi film is a coming-of-age story about five restless, small-town girls who stray from society and settle in a cabin while on the hunt for something different.

“With nods toward Golding’s ‘Lord of the Flies’ and Ann M. Martin’s ‘The Babysitter’s Club,’ Honeycomb’s classic references mesh beautifully with its fresh, updated take on female friendship and the ominous end of innocence,” said K.J. Relth-Miller, Slamdance narrative features co-captain.

Fast started piecing the story together after a brain flash that inspired the film’s most significant and tragic scene.

“I went from there, and things kept expanding in my brain,” she said.

Fast titled the film “Honeycomb” because she came up with the idea that the girls were like bees and the abandoned cabin becomes their hive.

The catch is no one knows who the queen is, Fast said.

“I don’t remember the exact moment when I got the idea to include bees, but the more I talked to people about it, the more ideas (they gave me),” she said. “They would say, ‘Did you know bees do this?’ and I would write that in (the story).”

The film’s co-writer Emmett Roiko jumped on board when Fast told him her ideas during a party.

“We started writing the story in 2018 and through 2019, and we shot it during the summer of 2019,” Fast said.

The cast features Rowan Wales, Sophie Bawks-Smith, Jillian Frank, Destini Stewart, and Mari Geraghty, who are some of Fast’s closest friends.

“They all live with me, and their characters were written based on their personalities,” she said with a laugh. “I had them in my head from the beginning, so it was basically just a question of whether or not they wanted to do this.”

Although the roles were written with her friends’ idiosyncrasies in mind, the actors collaborated with Fast to help flesh out the characters.

This especially pertained to the roles of Leader and Willow, respectively played by Stewart and Bawks-Smith, Fast said.

“Sophie has a theater acting background, and I wondered how that was going to turn out on film,” she said. “You definitely see she has a very dramaticized way of expressing herself. It’s so addictive to watch, and I loved how that came out. It’s uncomfortable sometimes, but I liked that and it worked for her characters.”

Stewart had her own ideas for Leader, according to Fast, who didn’t write the character as angry as she appears in the film.

“(The role) wasn’t supposed to be so different from the rest of the girls, but then she took that on herself,” Fast said. “She asked if she could get really, really mad, and I said, ‘Go for it,’ because I wanted to see what that would look like. We had so much fun with it.”

Although the film stayed pretty close to the initial script, Fast started to see how the cross-pollination of the actors and scenes addressed other themes and meanings in regards to gender and other issues.

“It wasn’t like I wanted to make a movie about how the girls feel in comparison to their male friends,” she said. “That came later, while I was editing, and I was like, ‘We made something that means something to me that is deeper than just a horror movie.’”

While Fast has written, shot and edited a string of award-winning short films, editing her first feature was a new experience.

“I remember telling people that I was going to make a feature, and they said, ‘You definitely want to hire an editor, because it’s going to take you a year to edit,’” she said with another laugh. “I was like, no way, I’m going to do it so quickly, but then it took me three years.”

To make the editing easier, Fast decided to work on the film like it was a compilation of short films.

“I wouldn’t have been able to do this if I hadn’t had so much experience with the shorts before,” she said. “I got really good at using that software on my computer. It’s complicated, especially once you’re working with more footage. If it had been the first thing I ever edited, I don’t think I would have done it, because it would have been extremely overwhelming.”

Still, editing is one of Fast’s favorite steps of filmmaking.

“I could never imagine someone else doing it, because I really love being on my computer and seeing everything,” she said. “I can sit there and do anything I want to, and nobody can tell me differently.”

Fast also enjoyed creating the film’s production design through an array of organic and atmospheric scenes that take place in the cabin and surrounding areas.

“We needed a space where we could play music really loud and not have people bother us,” she said. “Once we found that, we decided to hang out for 12 hours and do this thing and have a party afterwards. That was interesting to me, because it was so authentic.”

Authenticity is why Fast feels “Honeycomb” works as both a horror and coming-of-age film.

“A lot of the scenarios in the film are things that we’ve experienced, and (we filmed) with people they’re comfortable with,” she said. “When we are all in a shot together, it’s just like we’re hanging out. We’re just like that, except a little less dramatic.”

Getting “Honeycomb” into Slamdance changed Fast’s life.

“Slamdance is the first major festival that I’ve ever gotten into, and when I got that phone call, there was a change of mindset about my world, right now,” she said. “It legitimized what I do, and (going forward), I think I can finally see my life as a filmmaker, but now I really feel (like) I’m a part of it. Slamdance is really inclusive, and I feel like I’m part of a little film family now.”

Slamdance logo

“Honeycomb” is now streaming during the 2022 Slamdance Film Festival.

For information and tickets, visit

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