Ghazaleh Keshvari took the creative plunge first, choosing to pursue an education at Vancouver Film School in the Acting Essentials and Acting for Film + Television programs. Seeing his sister’s distinct transformation, Mostafa wasted no time deciding to leave his 9-5 lifestyle to pursue his own dream: a career as a director. He soon signed up for Film Production at VFS and has never looked back.
Now, the brother and sister duo are headed to Cannes with their 22-minute short film “I Ran”. Written, co-produced, and directed by Mostafa, and starring Ghazaleh, this film, made with a modest $10,000 budget, has been accepted to the Short Film Corner at the prestigious festival. Did we mention it also won a U.S. Best Shorts Competition’s award of merit? Yeah. Awesome, right?
We had a chance to ask these incredible VFS alumni about their film, VFS, and what’s next. Check out their interview below!
Where are you from originally? What made you decide to come to Vancouver Film School?
We emigrated from Iran (Tehran). I moved here 9 years ago and my sister moved here 4 years ago to pursue our childhood dream: making movies! We did not know how, where or when, but I believe when the student is ready the teacher will show up. For us, that teacher was VFS!
Mostafa studied Film Production (2014) and Ghazaleh went through the Acting and Acting Essentials (2012) programs. What was your time like at VFS?
At the time, I was a financial manager at BMO when I encouraged my sister to pursue her dreams. Ghazal was transformed by VFS during Acting Essentials and the full-time Acting for Film & Television program. When I witnessed the positive changes in her acting and lifestyle, I decided to make my biggest decision. I said goodbye to 9-5 life and moved to VFS for the 24/7 creativity lifestyle as a director! The plan was to learn from each other in acting and directing, and help each other out. That's how the first project "I Ran” came together.
What was the best thing about it? What was your biggest struggle?
The best thing for both of us was being around people who shared the same vision and believed in us. It was not easy for our parents to see the shift in our life, but VFS made it easy. A year passed like a dream.
You worked together on the short film “I Ran”, written, directed, and co-produced by Mostafa, and starring Ghazaleh. What was the filmmaking process like?
“I Ran” was truly an example of super independent movie making. I proposed it as my final project to my class but it did not happen. So, after graduating, I asked VFS friends, alumni, and everyone I knew to help make it happen. Sarah Omran, another VFS grad, produced it with me and got the ball going. My girlfriend, Leeza Udovenko, also took her first acting role. This experience inspired her to go to VFS 2 months later! She is currently in the Acting for Film + Television program.
The 4 day set was crazy, but they say, "an easy shoot is not a good shoot.” At the end, everything worked out. My best friend and mentor, Andy Amoroso, who is a Production Design teacher, helped us in that field. Also, the most celebrated Iranian international singer, Shahram Nazeri, gave us his song -- icing on the cake!
Did you always want to work together, creatively?
We used to play as children and play scenes from movies. Since we were kids we promised each other to follow our dreams no matter what and help each other.
What was the most difficult thing about working together? What was the best thing?
The most difficult thing was fighting like siblings on set again! The best thing was entertaining the crew with our silly fights!
You recently won a U.S. Best Shorts Competition’s award of merit – congrats! Can you tell us a bit about that?
So, I submitted to almost 30 festivals. The first one I heard back from was Cannes, and the second one got the golden statue of "best shorts festival”! Best Shorts is an international only shorts competition in USA and opened many doors. There are still 28 more festivals to go. I'm hopeful.
What was it like being accepted to the Cannes Film Festival’s Short Film series? What does this mean, for both of you?
Cannes is the most prestigious festival in the world and the biggest honour for any filmmaker. It’s a dream come true for us, especially as it is the first movie we did! I knew at VFS, from the quality of training, I would go to Cannes, but I was shocked it was so quick!
I am making my first feature in November and trying to get it ready for Cannes feature next year. VFS is supporting us and I hope I can make them proud again. At this point, we are in pre-production and looking for more funding after networking in Cannes .
Anything else you’d like to say?
I want to thank all the VFS alumni and friends who helped us: my producer, Sarah Omran, and my great mentors, Andy Amoroso and Cheryl Lee. Special thanks to Ted Jones, the head of the Film Production department for his continuous support.
My advice for people who have not been to VFS: you have a choice to stay in bed and dream, or get your butt to VFS and start making dreams come true! Life is the movie you get to direct once, so make the best of it.
Take a look at the impressive trailer for "I Ran" below:
Congrats, Mostafa and Ghazaleh! We wish you all the very best!