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An Interview with Sohale Dezfoli, Director of Main Character Energy

by Mike Haberfelner

March 2024

Films directed by Sohale Dezfoli on (re)Search my Trash

 

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Your new film Main Character Energy - in a few words, what's it about?

 

Main Character Energy follows the journey of an actor who attends an open casting call, only to overlook a crucial detail in the character description. As the story unfolds, it delves into the complexities of gender identity and its impact within the entertainment industry and broader society.

 

How did the project fall together in the first place, and what drew you to its screenplay?

 

I sought a film project that would be both budget-friendly and resonate with the prevailing societal themes. During discussions with Nick, he mentioned a script he had penned during his college days, some 12 years back. Upon reviewing it, I sensed an exciting opportunity to not only showcase my filmmaking prowess but also to tackle a subject matter that resonates deeply with audiences and offers comedic insight. Gender discussions have become ubiquitous in recent years, after all. We expanded upon the original script, collaborating closely to enhance its structure and inject additional humor, notably with the inclusion of an audition scene. With a refined script in hand, our focus shifted to casting the perfect talent to breathe life into these characters.

 

What can you tell us about Main Character Energy's screenwriter Nicholas Begnaud, and what was your collaboration like?

 

Nick's a jack-of-all-trades: a brilliant writer, art director, and he even whipped up all the poster art for the film. We've teamed up on loads of projects before, like the short I directed, Taste the Difference, and a feature we produced called Active Shooter. Our twisted senses of humor sync up perfectly, making collaboration a breeze. It's great—I can focus on my strengths while he works his magic on his.

 

How did you and Nicholas Begnaud first meet even?

 

Once I decided to take the leap to LA, I was eager to connect with fellow industry folks. That's when I reached out to Nick via Facebook, knowing he had also interned at Eclectic. After finally settling in LA in 2014, we met up to chat about our aspirations in the business, and from there, our partnership blossomed. While we've penned several screenplays together that haven't hit the big screen, those collaborations helped us understand our strengths and refine our creative process. Even now, years later, we're still bouncing ideas off each other, keeping the creative juices flowing.

 

Do talk about Main Character Energy's brand of humour for a bit!

 

With Main Character Energy, our aim was to shed light on the absurdity of the audition process while also conveying a meaningful message. Let's face it, most actors loathe auditions; they'd much rather have roles come to them than constantly vie for them. That's what made this script stand out. Not only does it highlight the absurdity of auditions, but it also playfully tackles gender norms and the industry's fixation on political correctness over substance—like a killer script, top-notch talent, and a gripping storyline. Our goal was simple: to have a blast making it, and hopefully, the audience will have just as much fun watching it.

 

A few words about your overall directorial approach to your story at hand?

 

So, this marks my third venture into directing short films. The first was a suspenseful thriller dripping with blood, while the second, penned by Nick, took a darker comedic turn. This time around, it's all about the laughs. With each film, I've been honing my directing skills and defining my own style. For this project, my focus was on crafting a winning script, assembling the perfect cast, and collaborating closely to breathe life into these characters. This involved in-depth discussions with everyone involved and meticulous planning to ensure our vision came to fruition. From the talented cast to the dedicated crew, each member contributed immensely, understanding and elevating the overall vision with their skills and expertise.

 

You also make a cameo appearance in Main Character Energy as a director - so how much of yourself can we find in your character?

 

It's pretty ironic, really. As a kid, I dreamed of being an actor, looking up to the likes of Jim Carrey. But when it came down to it, I never felt at ease in front of the camera. In my previous films, you might spot me lingering in the background, silent and unassuming. However, for this one, stepping into the role of "the director" felt fitting, considering the narrative. Now, I hope I didn't come off as the stereotypical, pompous director depicted in the short. It was more of a caricature of myself, exaggerated for comedic effect. Playing "the director" allowed us to toy with the idea of the film being a play within a play—it just clicked. As I grow more comfortable in front of the camera, I reckon you'll see more of me in my own projects. Life's too short to hold back, right?

 

What can you tell us about the rest of Main Character Energy's cast, and why exactly these people?

 

Mark Prendergast, who portrays Brian Scott, and Carlo Malis, playing Carter, are close friends of mine. Taylor Joree Scorse, taking on the role of Lizzie Mason, came highly recommended. For the supporting roles, we tapped into our circle of friends, with even my sister joining in as background talent. The remaining roles were filled through auditions, which was a bit of a twist. Getting the right cast was crucial to nailing the comedy, ensuring each actor slipped seamlessly into their character. Interestingly, most of the cast members with speaking parts, aside from myself, have backgrounds in theater, which made directing them a breeze. With everyone aligned on the character arcs, it was an absolute blast collaborating with them.

 

Do talk about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere!

 

I can't even put into words how much I adore being on set—it's like fuel for my soul. The energy, the constant movement, even during breaks, is invigorating. There's always something brewing, always a plan in motion. Despite the tight schedule, we moved swiftly on this shoot, thanks to meticulous planning. Working with the right team was crucial. Everyone was on board, pulling their weight to keep things rolling smoothly. We had a blast, and I cherished every single minute of it.

 

The $64-question of course, where can Main Character Energy be seen?

 

We recently had a screening at the Sedona International Film Festival, and next month, we're thrilled to be showcasing at the Sarasota Film Festival. Following that, we'll be releasing the film online for audiences worldwide to enjoy. I'm eagerly anticipating the moment when everyone can see it. I'm incredibly proud of the hard work put in by our team, and I can't wait for it to be shared with the world.

 

Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Main Character Energy?

 

The feedback we've received so far has been fantastic. The jokes are hitting their mark, and the film has sparked meaningful conversations about gender roles. As a first-time director of a straightforward comedy, I'm thrilled with the positive response we've been getting.

 

Any future projects you'd like to share?

 

Nick and I have been striving to film a particular short for the past few years, but we've encountered setbacks along the way. However, my ultimate aspiration is to direct a feature film. While making shorts has been enjoyable and has helped me refine my style and artistic identity to some extent, I aspire to delve even further into the realm of storytelling and bring to fruition some of the feature films we've penned.

 

What got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?

 

I never received formal training or attended film school. My journey into filmmaking was born out of a simple love for movies and a belief that if others could do it, why couldn't I? During my college years, I delved deep into understanding the mechanics of filmmaking. I devoured books, watched countless how-to videos on YouTube, and soaked up interviews with directors like Tarantino and Scorsese, becoming utterly obsessed with the craft. The next natural step was to dive in and start creating, learning from each mistake along the way. Taking risks has always been my thing. My first short film, Insentient, was a crash course that taught me invaluable lessons on what works and what doesn't in the world of filmmaking.

 

What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Main Character Energy?

 

I've spent more time producing for others than directing my own projects, and surprisingly, I think it's made me a better filmmaker. Working on other people's projects and bringing their visions to life has given me invaluable insights into my own craft. Collaborating with individuals who have different styles than mine has been particularly enlightening. I used to have a big ego when I first arrived in LA, especially after my initial short film found success at festivals. I convinced myself that I would only create projects that I personally wrote. However, I've since learned to let go of that ego and embrace collaboration, recognizing that everyone has something valuable to offer and teach.

 

How would you describe yourself as a director?

 

The project is always the top priority for me, which means I prioritize listening to those around me who possess greater expertise. It's the most effective way to grow and improve in your craft. Whether it's members of the cast or crew, I recognize that I don't have all the answers. Success hinges on setting aside ego and being open to listening and learning from others. If an actor suggests delivering a line differently, we'll give it a shot. Directing is akin to a dance, and it's crucial that we move together harmoniously to avoid setting ourselves and our team up for failure.

 

Filmmakers who inspire you?

 

Anyone involved in filmmaking is inspiring, simply because getting a project off the ground is such a daunting task. There's an abundance of talent out there, and it's hard not to be inspired by the dedication and creativity of fellow filmmakers. However, if I had to pick some classic inspirations, I'd go with Tarantino, Scorsese, Nolan, and Hitchcock. I can watch their movies over and over again.

 

Your favourite movies?

 

Goodfellas, Pulp Fiction and Psycho are just a few examples.

 

... and of course, films you really deplore?

 

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I'd prefer not to disclose. It's a bit of a risky question to respond to. Let’s just say I don’t like movies that try to force an agenda.

 

Your/your movie's website, social media, whatever else?

 

IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt22793840/

Instagram: @mcefilm

 

Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?

 

Thank you for this interview. I also want to thank our extremely talented cast and crew. This film would have been impossible without their dedication.

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

In times of uncertainty of a possible zombie outbreak, a woman has to decide between two men - only one of them's one of the undead.

 

There's No Such Thing as Zombies
starring
Luana Ribeira, Rudy Barrow and Rami Hilmi
special appearances by
Debra Lamb and Lynn Lowry

 

directed by
Eddie Bammeke

written by
Michael Haberfelner

produced by
Michael Haberfelner, Luana Ribeira and Eddie Bammeke

 

now streaming at

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Vimeo

 

 

 

Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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