If you have never experienced San Diego Comic-Con or need something to hold you over until SDCC 2016, "Home Away From Home" is a must watch documentary. Best part is you can watch it for FREE below, but first we are honored to share a one on one interview with the director Caleb Alexandra, aka Phamista.
CONmunity: I've been to SDCC about 14 times myself, starting in 1996, but your video is still inspiring every time I watch. SDCC is just a magical experience unlike any other and you did an excellent job capturing that. What inspired you to document this trip?
Caleb: That's exactly it! I saw shows and videos about SDCC years before I ever attended. After becoming a regular comic-con goer, I realized the experience is far more surreal than anything anyone had shown on screen before. I remember going home and having post-comic-con depression. I'd try to find videos online to relive the feeling of the experience but everything I found fell short. That's when I decided to do it myself; to do everything I could to portray why SDCC is a "home away from home" for thousands of people all over the world and why it means so much.
CONmunity: You were still living in small town Visalia, CA when you made the documentary, and it looks like you are in San Diego now. Was this to be closer to your home away from home?
Caleb: It's kind of funny actually. I never planned on moving to San Diego so soon. If anything, I always thought this would be where I would retire. Seems life had other plans for me though. After Home Away From Home released I moved to Los Angeles for a few months working on film productions with Jared Leto and Thirty Seconds To Mars. When that ended I was offered behind-the-scenes work for a few feature films in San Diego. I couldn't pass up that opportunity! Living in one of my favorite cities, working in a vibrant film community, and being ever so near to the annual event I hold closest to my heart. It was the perfect combination. I went from living 9 hours away from the convention to five minutes.
CONmunity: You made this about four years ago. Does your excitement for SDCC live on, have you been returning each year?
Caleb: I think it would be a difficult task to diminish my excitement for SDCC. I look forward to it more than any other holiday. I've been going every year since Home Away From Home released. This year will be my 8th year attending but my first as a volunteer. I'm excited to see the convention from an entirely new perspective!
CONmunity: Now that you are living closer are there any plans of recording more footage, possibly a follow up. You mentioned that fans have suggested doing a web series or a sequel.
Caleb: I would love to follow up with a sequel. However, I'm at a point where I need to wait until I gain better equipment. Going at it a second time around, I want to make sure the next film is up to par with all the experience I've obtained since the first installment. In the second film, I would like to follow more personal stories; find a few attendees and document their unique journeys throughout the week of SDCC.
CONmunity: For me, your documentary has become like a holiday special. It's now tradition to watch it every year during the online ticket sales for SDCC. For something that started as a student project, what's it like knowing that people are still watching it?
Caleb: That is the biggest compliment! It blows me away knowing one of my first films is still being enjoyed by others for the very reasons why I created it. When I made Home Away From Home, I only dreamed it would serve as a temporary substitute for the comfort and happiness SDCC is capable of providing. And with a lot of the responses I've gotten over the years it makes me both humbled and jubilant knowing it's done just that.
CONmunity: I assume you've stuck with directing, what are you currently up to? If this were a late night talk show, what project would you be here to plug?
Caleb: In 2015 my depression hit an all time low. I was thrown into an emotional undertow and was struggling to find a way out. It was a daily battle against suicidal thoughts, hopelessness, and helplessness. The one thing that kept me alive was my passion for storytelling. I wrote countless stories as I trekked that horrific journey. But only one of them truly stuck with me. I felt an immense obligation to see through my depression so I could get back on my feet and tell its story. That story later became known as Nattorix. Since my recovery in the fall of 2015, I adapted Nattorix for the big screen. It's a sci-fi, psychological thriller, part of an expansive fictional universe that takes place in the near future.
A psychiatrist suffering from major depression explores the new frontier of personalized nanomedicine by taking an experimental drug named Nattorix.
The film is designed not only to entertain with its dramatic twists and turns, but also to educate people of what it's truly like to live with a mental illness, i.e., major depression. Ultimately, I want to use this film as a tool for suicide prevention.
Nattorix is currently in pre-production and will release later this year. For more information about the film and for those interested in supporting it, feel free to contact me via email:
Or on Twitter: @Phamista