Acceptance into the celebrated Doorpost Film Project in Nashville marks the latest in a string of successes for Western Australian director Maziar Lahooti.
The WA Young Filmmaker of the Year has piqued the interest of the notoriously competitive United States market with Sprawl, a clever critique of consumerism and corporate greed.
Written by Mike Hoath and directed by Maziar, Sprawl was originally created for the Revelation Perth International Film Festival Buy My Duck! Short Film Competition in 2006. Nearly two years later, the team entered their film into Doorpost, a unique competition that strives to uncover visionary emerging filmmakers from across the globe. Doorpost calls for films that explore themes of love, freedom, pain, energy, redemption, greed and forgiveness. Sprawl was selected by the judges as part of the final seven for its powerful examination of greed.
Maziar and writer Mike were awarded $10,000 by the Doorpost judges to make a second film on the theme of hope, to will screen on the competition’s website from August 17 to 31. This project will be shot in Gingin and tells the story of a disillusioned farmer who turns his life around after a chance encounter with an accident victim.
Maziar says that a "smart script" is one of filmmaking’s most crucial elements and believes that early career filmmakers are often too preoccupied with how to make a film without learning to refine their storytelling abilities.
Since graduating from TAFE in 2005, Maziar has worked in a range of WA productions in a variety of roles. Although aspiring to direct feature films, it is clear that Maziar’s career is being shaped by an immersion in all aspects of filmmaking. He says that, "when you work a lot on set, you learn how to make things easily", and that his crew positions have allowed him to make contacts and work in the industry while focusing on his solo projects.
Maziar believes that Western Australian filmmakers are hindered by the pressure to gain approval from interstate and international markets. He believes that there is enormous potential for filmmakers in WA and that the production boom has increased the opportunities for practitioners to explore various avenues of film finance.
"[Filmmakers] shouldn’t just rely on government grants to get their films made. It’s not the be-all and end-all. Learn enough about being able to write your films and do it cheaply," Maziar said.
Maziar is developing a feature film script with writer Mike Hoath, which is planed to maximise on networking opportunities made available through the Doorpost Film Project. The competition culminates in Nashville, Tennessee on September 13 and is comprised of screenings, a training symposium and award presentations.
Maziar looks forward to making contacts with financiers, distributors and agents in the US while simultaneously raising awareness of the WA film industry to an international audience. He plans to shoot his next feature in the State and keep building his credibility while working locally.
Maziar says that filmmakers should "earn the right to tell a story", and it seems that’s exactly what he’s done.
[Story by Neha Kale. Release by ScreenWest]