$750,000 funding boost for Maziar Lahooti’s Below

Written a family-friendly comedy full of laughs, sunshine and a jolly good time? Going by a recent trend over the last few years, you’ve got no chance of winning Screenwest’s funding initiative, West Coast Visions.

Written something as dark as the devil’s heart itself? Something about an apocalypse, a violent bikie gang or a serial killer couple thirsty for the blood of young women? You may be in for a chance.

Of course we’re having a laugh and we couldn’t be more excited for Screenwest’s latest West Coast Vision’s funding recipient.

Director Maziar Lahooti’s Below will receive a $750,000 production funding boost thanks to Screenwest’s West Coast Visions funding initiative.

Below is the first feature film for Lahooti whose short film credits include Crossroad, Loveless and last year’s Sprawl.

Below follows Darknet grifter Dougie who is recruited by his stepdad to work security at a refugee detention centre. There, Dougie is drawn into an underground operation blackmailing detainees to fight for profit. When champion Iranian fighter Azad is killed and his young sister Hamasa left alone, Dougie locates his hitherto dormant conscience and takes a stand.

“I’m thrilled and humbled at the continued support and faith of the producers, Madman, and Screenwest for this opportunity,” Lahooti said. “It is with great responsibility, respect, and dedication to the themes of this story and the audience we’re making it for that we will work tirelessly to do Ian’s phenomenal writing justice in the form of what we’re determined to create – an inceptive, mad, and wildly entertaining piece of Australian cinema.”

Maziar has worked in the screen industry for 10 years on feature films, television productions, commercials and corporate videos. He has a Masters of Screen Arts – Directing from AFTRS, and has won many awards for his short films. In 2014 he was selected for the year-long Screenwest Feature Navigator directors program and the following year was director’s attachment to Kriv Stenders on Red Dog True Blue.

Producers for Below are WA’s Kate Neylon (Hotel Coolgardie), Veronica Gleeson and Nick Batzias. The script is written by Ian Wilding, who first wrote it as a play while living in Western Australia. Director of Photography is Michael McDermott (Hounds of Love) and the Production Designer credit goes to Emma Fletcher (Whiteley, A Few Less Men)

For Kate, this opportunity follows on from her co-producing acclaimed documentary feature Hotel Coolgardie and being Sue Taylor’s producer’s attachment on Ben Elton’s feature film Three Summers.

“We are very excited to receive the West Coast Visions funding,” Neylon said. “This support provides an opportunity to tell an ambitious story and work with great West Australian talent, both established and emerging. Having Veronica, Nick and the Madman team bring their experience and talent to the table from inception through to delivery gives us the confidence to deliver on Maz and Ian’s dark, comic vision.”

“West Coast Visions is Western Australia’s most significant and competitive development program,” said Screenwest Chair Janelle Marr. “It aims to uncover, inspire and develop the career of Western Australian filmmakers.”

“West Coast Visions has been pivotal in launching the international careers of Western Australian filmmakers. Directors Ben Young (Hounds of Love) and Zak Hilditch (These Final Hours) received critical acclaim for their West Coast Visions films and have gone on to helm large-scale projects,” Marr continued. “Wasted on the Young and Blame were selected for some of the world’s most competitive and prestigious film festivals including Toronto.  Last year’s film, 1%, is about to make its mark.”

Cinema Australia would like to congratulate the Below team and we wish them all the best for what’s sure to be an incredible venture.

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