As the American public was riveted by the spectacle of riot police suppressing the massive demonstrations disputing the results of Iran’s June 12 election, one crack appeared in the wall between the two countries.
Surprisingly, Iranian helmer Masoud Jafari Jozani managed to secure visas for members of his cast and crew to travel to and film in the U.S. — the first Iranian production to do so since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
“This would have been impossible a few months ago,” said Jozani from one of his Los Angeles locations. “Obama has changed things.”
Jozani was filming a $12 million, 35mm production, “In the Wind’s Eye” — the feature film conclusion to a 52-hour epic TV series, which he also wrote and directed. The combined projects center on three generations of a family as they travel between continents, buffeted by the tumultuous events of the 20th century.
“We shot 60% of the film in Iran and are completing the rest in America,” said Jozani as he neared the end of the month-long shoot. To maintain a consistent look, he secured U.S. visas not only for three actors but also for nine crew members, including the production designer, the d.p. and several camera assistants.
Some spoke English. Cinematographer Amir Karimi did not, but still managed to communicate with his American technicians.
“The funniest thing happened,” Jozani said. “Amir talked to his lighting people and grips in Farsi, and I translated. But they said, ‘OK, OK, we know what he’s saying.’ I asked, ‘How do you know?’ They said, ‘When he moves his hands we totally understand each other.’ When he says in Farsi, ‘Bring a 2K light,’ they bring a 2K light.”
Production designer Majid Mirfakhraei found that his role was more restricted. “At home I also handle art direction, set design and costume design,” he said.
But Mirfakhraei appreciated the American no-nonsense production schedule. “I like the precise programming,” he said. “It helps us finish on time.”
In Iran, by contrast, “all actors, equipment and technicians are available at all times,” said Philippe Diaz, founder of Cinema Libre Studio, the production and distribution shingle that facilitated the L.A. shoot. “They wake up in the morning and decide what to do that day. If they want to make a change, no problem.”
Like all Iranian productions, “In the Wind’s Eye” had to pass muster with the country’s culture ministry. “In Iran you have to get permission to make a film,” Jozani said. “That’s a little more than we would like. But they approved this script.”
Signings & Bookings
New bookings by Montana Artists: producer Tim Coddington and production designer David Sandefur on Warner Bros.’ “Yogi Bear”; d.p. Horacio Marquinez and production designer Mark Hofeling on Disney Channel’s “Star Struck” MOW; producer Bill Johnson on Randall Wallace’s “Secretariat” for Disney; production designers Doug Meerdink on Miguel Arteta’s “Cedar Rapids” for Fox Searchlight, Liz Kay on Starz’s “Party Down,” Steven Wolff on “The Honeymoon” for Lifetime, Rachel O’Toole on “Shattered” for CanWest, and Michael Hanan on FX’s “Lawman.”
Innovative Artists has signed d.p. Ekkehart Pollack (“Gamer”) and costume designers Deborah Scott (“Avatar,” “Titanic”) and Monique Prudomme (“The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus,” “Juno”). Agency’s d.p. bookings: Phedon Papamichael on James Mangold’s “Wichita,” Eric Edwards on Dustin Lance Black’s “What’s Wrong with Virginia,” David Hennings on Andy Fickman’s “You Again,” Darren Genet on Gil Cates Jr.’s “Lucky, Charles Minsky on Garry Marshall “Valentine’s Day” and John Thomas on Michael Patrick King’s “Sex and the City 2.”
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Paradigm has signed editor Tia Nolan (“The Women,” “Bewitched”) and d.p. Luciano Tovoli (“Titus,” “Murder by Numbers”), and booked d.p. Hubert Taczanowski on “Beat the World.”
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