Interview with Filmmaker Shawyon Fazel (PARALLEL)

PARALLEL was the winner of BEST FANTASY FILM at the March 2022 FANTASY/SCI-FI Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

I always loved the science fiction genre and wanted to make a film that specifically explored string theory. In order to humanize the film and tell a story about something I personally understood, I developed a narrative that used science fiction in order to shine a spotlight on socio-economic division. The story is an exploration of my passion both for complex scientific phenomena, and simple everyday struggles of greed and desperation that we all experience as humans.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

I started writing this film in March 2020, during which time the COVID-19 pandemic had led to lockdowns in many areas, including Los Angeles. I spent the next two years developing the project, acquiring the funds, shooting the film, and finishing pre production.

3. How would you describe your film in two words!?

Adrenaline rush

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

The largest obstacle was dealing with a pandemic that was absolutely merciless to indie filmmakers. The pandemic made it so that my crew and I had so many greenlights that lasted just seconds until another red light would hit and shut down all of our progress. We all never thought we’d have a long enough chance to carry on with the film and get to the finish line since health and safety regulations were constantly leaving and re-entering our lives. Aside from the pandemic, acquiring the funds to pay for this very expensive film was also difficult, and I had to explore a great many avenues for funding before I was able to get to production.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

I was thankful that they watched the film and seemed to understand what I was going for with the narrative. As a filmmaker, all you really hope for is for people to hear your voice, and that what you have to say resonates with others. I definitely felt that the audience took the time to observe and think about the film and for that I am very grateful.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

My sophomore year of college at UC Santa Cruz. I was a declared Art major and decided to attend a film course in order to satisfy some of my credits for my major, but then I fell in love with cinema and switched my major to Film & Digital Media Production.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

This is the hardest question to answer. I grew up watching a lot of action films. A few films that I definitely watched more times than I can remember include Gladiator, Pulp Fiction and Fight Club.

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

Honestly, everything that this incredible festival has done has been so thoughtful. I think the idea of using various avenues to showcase a film, such as theaters, streaming channels, and online events, as well as avenues for marketing/promotion, such as podcasts, blog posts, and feedback videos, is all that young indie filmmakers can ask for.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

I found the festival platform site to be very user friendly and seamless.

10. What is your favorite meal?

Any Korean BBQ dish!

11. What is next for you? A new film?

My next short film will be based on the first scene from a feature-length screenplay that I wrote. I’ll be using this short film as a proof of concept to ultimately fund my feature.

By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival www.wildsound.ca

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