Maziar Lahooti’s ‘Below’ to receive $750K via West Coast Visions

Maziar Lahooti.

Screenwest has announced Maziar Lahooti’s debut feature Below as the recipient of this year’s West Coast Visions funding.

The film, to be produced by Kate Neylon (Hotel Coolgardie) and Madman’s Veronica Gleeson and Nick Batzias, will receive $750,000 towards production.

Below follows darknet grifter Dougie, who is recruited by his stepdad to work security at a refugee detention centre. Once there, Dougie is drawn into an underground operation blackmailing detainees to fight for profit. When champion Iranian fighter Azad is killed and his young sister Hamasa left alone, Dougie locates his hitherto dormant conscience and takes a stand.

The script has been penned by Ian Wilding, who first wrote it as a play. Michael McDermott has signed on as director of photography, while Emma Fletcher (Whiteley, A Few Less Men) will be the production designer.

Lahooti, who has a Masters of Screen Arts – Directing from AFTRS, was previously selected for the year long Screenwest Feature Navigator directors program and was a director’s attachment to Kriv Stender’s on Red Dog: True Blue.

On being awarded the funding, the director said: “I’m thrilled and humbled at the continued support and faith of the producers, Madman, and Screenwest for this opportunity. It is with great responsibility, respect, and dedication to the themes of this story and the audience we’re making it for that we will work tirelessly to do Ian’s phenomenal writing justice in the form of what we’re determined to create – an inceptive, mad, and wildly entertaining piece of Australian cinema.”

Screenwest Chair Janelle Marr said: “West Coast Visions is Western Australia’s most significant and competitive development program.  It aims to uncover, inspire and develop the career of Western Australian filmmakers.”

“West Coast Visions has been pivotal in launching the international careers of Western Australian filmmakers. Directors Ben Young (Hounds of Love) and Zak Hilditch (These Final Hours) received critical acclaim for their West Coast Visions films and have gone on to helm largescale projects. Wasted on the Young and Blame were selected for some of the world’s most competitive and prestigious film festivals including Toronto.  Last year’s film, 1%, is about to make its mark.

“We congratulate Maziar, Kate and everyone involved with Below on the selection.”