Today, we live in a world of great opportunity, and thanks to the Internet and Social media, no matter your niche or passion, as long as you have the drive, determination and creativity to follow your dreams you can do anything. It may sound like an old cliche, but the bottom line is its the truth. For the Zargari Brothers, Director Shahab Zargari, and writer Shahram Zargari; the pursuit of a dream, now becomes reality; with a little known gem called The Cyrstal Crypt, from Philip K. Dick. Throw in a creative campaign on Kickstarter, and independent movie magic begins to form.
You might not be completely familiar with the name Philip K. Dick, but if you are a hard-core geek, you will be more than familiar with his work. His novels and short stories have inspired films like Total Recall, Blade Runner (“Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”) with Harrison Ford, Minority Report and A Scanner Darkly.
GeeK Magazine had the pleasure of chatting with Shahab Zargari, who spoke of his childhood and what inspired him and his brother Shahram Zargari to pursue a career in film making. It starts with something all geeks love to hear; not for the sensationalism of its namesake, but because it inspired all of us in a way to have a much different view, coupled with a heightened imagination. Above all else it made most of us passionate about Sci-Fi – of course we are talking about Star Wars.
As a child, Star Wars was a huge inspiration. Growing up, I’d have to say the Alien movies as well, Aeon Flux animated TV series, even dramatic movies like Gattaca.
Even at a young age the Zagari brothers stuck to the clock during imaginative play-time:
When we were young, my brother and I would play together all the time. Thick as theives – We would even watch the clock and play a specific war or space operas for two hours; and then bring it to a close because movies rarely go over two hours. Stated Shashab Zagari one half of the dynamic duo.
Kickstarter and Independent Film Making
When it comes to independent film making, budget restraints seems to be a familiar culprit that constantly interrupts the creativity process. Thanks to sites like Kickstarter, independent film makers, who have a great idea can easily kick budget concerns to the curb. There are several success stories already established to inspire young ambitious directors; such as the 2013 Oscar winning film ‘Inocente’, which made history, as the first independent film, funded entirely by Kickstarter to win an Academy Award.
Independent film making is something Shahab Zargari is passionate about, promoting its importance, he stated;
Essentially Independent Film Making is what the truly creative do because it is what they are passionate about; not because they want to be rich and famous or because someone told them, without the right degree or the right Hollywood connections they’ll never amount to anything. If out of their hard work comes recognition and producers seeking to hire them for their productions, then great!
Zargari not only gathers strength and inspiration from big blockbuster movies, but he makes note of the little guys who took one small idea and turned it into something big, with little regard for fortune and fame.
I think some of the best independent filmmakers are Vimeo users, like the ‘Everything is a Remix’ by Kirby Ferguson. His entire documentary is unbelievably well produced and yet he’s giving it up for free on Vimeo.
Kickstarter may be the perfect resource to secure some funding, but the next question Zargari had to ask was, how to make the outer space journey for The Crystal Crypt look like Star Trek or Star Wars.
Zargari understands full well that trying to create a concept with the same depth of remaking the star wars trilogy, puts your vision way beyond the threshold of short films. Setting the expectations early on, however, seemed more realistic:
Try and come up with a concept that is simple and uses only a few locations with little to no special effects. As far as coming up with the actual story, keep it true to your vision.
The Crystal Crypt and Philip K. Dick
First published in January 1952, The Crystal Crypt begins in the distant future, with Earth and Mars on the verge of war. The last spaceship to leave Mars for Earth is suddenly stopped by Martian soldiers in search of three saboteurs who have destroyed a Martian City. With most of Philip K. Dicks stories, the ending has a surprising conclusion.
The Zagari brothers who are no strangers to production enlisted the help of producer Zeus Zamani, who produced films like Battlefield America, and 616: Paranormal Incident. Also on the cast are actors some of our geek readers might recognize as well. Like Yuri Lowenthal, voice actor from shows like Ben 10 and the video game Halo 4. Tara Platt, who has worked on television shows like abc’s Revenge, as well as countless voice over work on video games like The Amazing Spider-Man; just to name a few.
On the Set; Special Effects and Props
No doubt with a limited budget, comes the next great leap in creativity and production. How exactly does a director, who decides to take on the Sci-Fi genre cope with props and special effects?
While we will have elements of green screen, computer and 2D animation, most of what we will be showcasing is what the lens of the camera sees. The Crystal Crypt is more of a character driven film. Much like the old Twilight Zone episodes. A little bit of camera trickery here and there, but for the most part the viewer is engaged with the story and the people caught up in it.
As for some of the cool props featured on the Kickstarter campaign page, bits and pieces came from everywhere.
My two favorites are The Martian city model miniature which was hand crafted by Builders Studio in New York, and the Martian lie detector that was built by hand by Dr Moreau’s Workshop.
You can check out how the Martian lie detector was made here.
Success is the Only Option
Driven by passion and the sheer determination to succeed, Zargari finds inspiration to move forward in the little set-backs most in the industry come to expect:
The number of people who have already lost money, sleep and brain cells over this project already makes it a success to me. I’m so honored to be working with such a passionate group of people. It really makes me happy.
Zargari has been involved in many projects through out the years, as an executive producer and editor; but the likes of Philip K. Dick struck a cord that seemed to reignite the childhood dream, he and his brother both shared.
I’ve been a Sci-fi nerd my entire life. I gravitated toward Philip K. Dick. He’s one of my favorite authors in the genre. As soon as I saw Star Wars in the movie theaters as a little kid, I instantly knew that making movies was something I was passionate about, and I now have the confidence and the chops to start my directing career and I must succeed.
Indeed inspirational words to live by, for all the Sci-Fi dreamers out there, as well as the independent film makers.
Check out the teaser trailer below for The Crystal Crypt