Film Courage: Where does a story begin for you? How do you know its beginning (whether you’re writing it or reading someone else’s)?
Matt Eskandari, Writer/Director/Producer: For me the beginning of a story is where you’re introduced to a character and you can empathize with them. I think that’s the point where the story really begins because until you can step into the shoes of whoever the protagonist is, your story can’t really start. Everything up until that point is things that you didn’t necessarily need and once that moment happens and it clicks into place, that’s when you’re like Okay, now as an audience member the story begins and I’m following this character’s journey whoever they are and seeing where it leads me.
Film Courage: Can you think of a few characters where you were able to empathize with them? Maybe they are even someone in real life if you saw that person you wouldn’t really empathize with, but once you see them from a director’s perspective it changes?
Eskandari immigrated to the United States as a child with his family, following the Iranian revolution. He is an alumnus of the University of Southern California, and would direct several award-winning shorts; including “The Taking” (Screamfest Award for Best Student Short). The film propelled him to nationwide exposure when he was chosen by Steven Spielberg and Mark Burnett; from a pool of 12,000 candidates, to participate in the Fox filmmaker competition ‘On the Lot.’
Matt would go on to make his feature directorial debut with the psychological thriller “Victim.” The controversial work was distributed by Ifc Films for theatrical release and hailed by Ain’t it Cool News as, “a thinking man’s Saw” and “both original and disturbing.” Eskandari’s next feature, “The Gauntlet,” starring international stars Bai Ling and Dustin Nguyen was produced and shot entirely in China. It was one of the first China/US co-productions recognized by the Beijing Film Bureau and after a successful worldwide festival run was distributed as “Game of Assassins” by Lionsgate Studios.
Matt’s third feature, the self-contained swimming pool thriller “12 Feet Deep,” starring Tobin Bell and Alexandra Park was praised by critics as, “a tensely directed hidden gem that will leave you struggling to breathe,” and has gone on to become the single top selling title for MarVista – having amassed a record 40 million trailer views in its first months release.
Coming from a unique cultural perspective and honing his directorial craft in genre films, Eskandari is ready to use his distinct voice to embark into a further exploration of human nature and delve into the relevant fears and themes of our modern day world.
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Solicitude – A crisp, cinematic 96-second short film on mental health (depression, loneliness, suicide) and what each one of us could do to CHANGE it. In times of quarantine and remote work, mental health has become essential. Writer/actor Uday Krishna’s Solicitude spotlights mental health, depression, and suicide with a positive ending on how all of us can improve within our own network. Uday along with Christina Perez (the director, editor, background score) and Emmanuel Vega (DOP, Lights) shot this short in three hours using one location.