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Sundance Film Festival 2022
US Premiere
Interview

Maziyar Khatam 
Bump
INTERNATIONAL LIVE ACTION SHORT FILMS

instagram.com/maz.khatam

A young man’s unwillingness to let go of a trivial encounter leads him to seek retribution.

 

Hi Maziyar thank you for talking to The New Current, how have you been holding up during these very strange times?

 

It feels we're at a point now that things are kinda back to normal. Being back in a cinema again feels awesome. 

 

Has this time offered you any new creative inspiration or opportunities?

 

I was able to focus a lot on writing and figuring out what’s feasible to shoot during the pandemic in terms of safety and budget. A lot of these limitations can spawn creativity. 

 

Congratulations on having Bump selected in the Shorts Programme at Sundance 2022, what does it mean to be part of such an amazing line-up of films?

 

I really can’t believe it, probably sounds cliche, but it's true. When I got that call from the programmer I was like “F**k you, is this a joke? You air duct cleaning service guys are taking this too far”. 

 

Sundance has been something I’ve been chasing for maybe the past 4 years, the festival has become synonymous with amazing talent. Some of my favourite films have come out of there, I'm very excited to see the other shorts and features.

 

This will be your US Premiere, does this add any extra pressure on you? 

 

I’m an anxious person in general so….

 

Can you tell me a little bit about how Bump came about, what was the inspiration behind your screenplay?

 

The initial idea of Bump came to me when I was in film school. I pitched it in class, I think Bump is one of those ideas that doesn’t sound very attractive on paper, so it got shut down pretty quickly haha. The situation that Bump explores is something that a lot of men including myself deal with very poorly.  As absurd as it is, the root of the film is about men fearing other men and the insecurity behind it.

 

A few years after I was re-reading Dostoevsky’s “Notes from the Underground”, I realized that that’s where the initial idea came from. There’s a section in the book where this meek guy gets shoved by a big construction worker in the subway. The man follows the worker for a year obsessively attempting to deal with the same damage that was dealt with him.

 

I definitely took a more modern approach to Dostoevsky’s story, telling the film in real-time rather than a year and using Toronto subculture as the backdrop instead of the 1840s. I Hope Dostoevsky won’t mind, sorry fam.

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"...I think it's a natural process for a filmmaker to do in order to find their own voice and to be able to experiment."

As a screenwriter does your own life/lived experiences ever serve as an inspiration for your film projects?

 

Very much, with any script, I always try to place elements that feel personal to me. My friends and family are such interesting people to me that I always try to include a joke or something that they’ve said if it feels like it would work in the story. 

 

It’s something I do by default even if I’m writing an archetypal character, there's always going to be a few of my family members, or people I know bleeding into that character.

 

As the great Tommy Wiseau once said “This is my movie and this is my life”. I try to live by that.

 

What was the biggest challenge you faced making Bump?

 

The toughest thing was shooting in the real world, we didn’t have permits so real people would walk by, some would interact with us while we were shooting. The Producer (Anya Chirkova) and Cinematographer (Mehran Zadehrazi) were hidden in an alleyway filming us, behind my car.

 

Also directing and acting is not really fun, but luckily we had a small but great team.

 

There's probably 7 different versions of this movie because of all the different interactions. One was where a homeless person wanted to fight me, and another where people tried to stop us. The other actor (Dylan Ray Hatton) and I would improvise a lot,  consistently staying on our toes.

 

We got very lucky with the last take, this van came out of nowhere and blocked a really vital moment in the film. At first, we were all upset, but the more we watched it, we felt it was the right take because it gave a sense of dissatisfaction of not seeing this big moment. 

 

Do you think filmmakers should continue to push the boundaries of the films/stories they want to tell?

 

I think filmmakers should always be attempting to make challenging content. It’s a terrifying thing for an artist to do because you're basically saying this is how I see the world and it could be a little bit weird or polarizing. 

 

Part of the process for me in trying to push boundaries is by borrowing from other artists, not just from other films, but painters or authors. It's unfortunately become taboo to steal or borrow, I think it's a natural process for a filmmaker to do in order to find their own voice and to be able to experiment. Anything you steal will never be like the original, it's impossible, everyone has such a unique perspective that similar stories will feel different. 

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Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?

 

Since grade 3. 

 

How much did your time at the Humber Film and Television Production program prepare you for your filmmaking journey?

 

I met a few great people at Humber that I constantly collaborated with, the producer Anya Chirkova and one of the actors Dylan Ray Hatton. The program itself wasn’t really for me, I learned a lot of the technical aspects of filmmaking. The good thing about any kind of film school is that it allows you to fail before you go into the real world. 

 

Since creating Funny Bone Pictures how has your approach and style of your films changed? 

 

We partnered up in Funny Bone Pictures to be able to create ideas that represent us and a culture that surrounds us. Each story we tell adopts its own approach to filmmaking. 

 

For our latest film that’s currently in post-production, we rehearsed for two month, very much like a stage play. It was a new process, but it brought so many ideas that we wouldn't have come up with otherwise.

 

Do you have any advice you would offer someone wanting to get into filmmaking?

 

Just do something. Give yourself a deadline and actually go do it, it doesn't matter what the project is, how big or small, finish it. Then do it again, but this time you’ll have a better idea and a stronger visual vocabulary.

 

And finally, what do you hope audiences will take away from Bump?

 

Enjoyment!