By Shirin Bazleh
Hope you are all well and trying to stay entertained in isolation. I have a story to tell you and a film to share with you now that you have time on your hands!
As many of you (old enough) may remember, we made a feature film 30+ years ago!! It stars Fakhri Khorvash, together with Steve Carlson, Amir F. Tehrani, Delbar Minbashian, Farhad Aeesh, Bella Ward, Badri Hemmatyar, Joseph Karimbeik, Sheila Bazleh, and many others).
The story of why the film was never completed, could be a more interesting film than the film itself:
Our backer was Timothy Ford, who had won the Silver Prize at New York International Film Festival for a film he had made about money and drug underworld. I met him at a film festival and he showed interest in our film and said he wanted to get involved in feature films. We originally had raised money and had investors to film on 16mm but with Timothy's insistence, he said he'll cover all the 35mm film and lab and production expenses and we can use our money for post production, so we gladly switched to 35mm.
Our offices were at his beautiful home in Hancock Park and we shot many of the scenes at his home. On the 3rd day of shooting at a downtown location, I got a call from Charles, our Production Manager, saying that State authorities had come to the house and arrested Timothy and took him away in handcuffs. He told Charles as soon as we bail him out, he'll take care of our laboratory business and other costs because there are things that we should know.
We had enormous film and laboratory bills so we immediately posted his bail and went to court so that we could get him out but he was a no show! The reason for not showing up was because he had already been taken to a Federal prison by the FBI which overrode his State charge! So the State told us since he was a no show (for whatever reason) we won't get our bail money back. We had already started filming and all the cast and crew were committed so we used all the money we already had for the 16mm project to finish the shooting days (his credit at FotoKem the film lab had been suspended). We even had to pay Timothy's rent (we found out that he didn't own the house, and was behind rent several months)
The rest is the story of a struggling filmmaker trying to finish the film... After a couple of years, not working and trying to raise more funds for the post production (which at the time could only be finished on actual film and a post facility with costly flatbed editing equipment) the film was shelved.
You ask what happened to Timothy?
I wish I had a picture of Timothy to share. He was from a prominent New England Family, tall, distinguished looking, highly educated and kind.
At some point he got out of prison to testify on another case for as far as we could tell, drug money laundering. We got a call from him at a hospital. Our dear cast member/producer Delbar went to see him. He had a big hole in his arm, very much like a bullet shot. But he said he had fallen on a pole. There were guards outside his room. He apologized for the trouble he had caused us. A few years later (maybe 7-8?) I got a call from him. It seems he was reading from a note (I am told in recovery programs they make you do this) and he sincerely apologized for what happened with the film. I was shocked to hear from him and thanked him for the call.
That was that.
Years later he wrote an article that was made into a movie in 2014 called Electric Side about a white color gangster and bank robber Eddie Dodson who is a drug addict. The film got mixed reviews acknowledging the article that the film was based on was a pretty accurate portrayal of the protagonist. Timothy died in 2007 at 54 - from apparent drug overdose. His obituary mentions him as producer, director, journalist and the screenplay for The Electric Side. It says he was a recognized expert in the field of addiction and helped young people overcome addictive behaviors.
Now let's get back to the actual reason I am sending you this email.
About 12 years ago, I got the negative of the unfinished rough cut and transferred it to digital format. No one works with film anymore, everything is digital! Then I got the audio from the VHS copy of the rough cut which was already mixed (30 years ago) and in my computer I synced the negative cut to the film... I'll spare you the technical challenges and details.
Fast forward 2020. Coronavirus. During this period of unemployment, I transferred everything to my editing software and worked hard to get the film finished and in a shape that I could put it on Youtube. I wish I had the material to edit it - but all I had to work with was the transferred rough cut and the mixed audio from the vhs.
It was an honor to work with Ms. Fakhri Khorvash and would be a pity not to share her talents and the hard work and talents of the many other people who participated in the film under difficult circumstances and very low budget in the making of this film.
It's 72 minutes and it is a silly film that can entertain you during these uncertain times.
Thanks for reading and hope you enjoy the film.