After I shot the 28 minute sci fi film The Crystal Crypt in 2013 (www.thecrystalcrypt.com), I was looking for a new passion project to work on. I always stretch myself thin with projects, but with a bit of the Crystal Crypt debt still looming, the next project couldn’t be as ambitious or large in scale (The Crystal Crypt was shot on a spaceship soundstage and the final film has CG, live action and hand-drawn animation).
Out of brainstorm sessions with my friend Jacob Gallegos and my brother Shahram Zargari, the idea for Susannah’s Lesson was born.
You see, my parents were always supportive of my love of reading. They almost didn’t care what it was. And so, when I was in 7th grade I picked up The Wastelands, The Talisman and The Stand expanded edition. I was hooked on King’s writing style instantly. Once I finished The Wastelands I went back and read The Gunslinger and The Drawing of the Three to catch up…after that I waited patiently for each new novel to be published in the series. My love of the Dark Tower has never waned or become lukewarm.
Both Jacob and Shahram knew this about me. The project, to them, was a no-brainer because of how close I had been to the source material. Plus, we could get away filming the short without needing to spend a ton of budget on location or special effects. But even more important than that, we could present the short and anyone who hasn’t read the series could still watch and enjoy it (without trying to figure out who is who and what the character back stories are).
We put up a Kickstarter and started a hashtag on Instagram to see if anyone even cared enough to see our rendition of the beginning of The Wastelands. The Kickstarter wasn’t a runaway success, but it funded and we were ecstatic.
A successfully funded kickstarter in your pocket meant that we had an obligation to those who pledged to finish the film. And finish we did. By saying that I don’t want to downplay Kickstarter’s role...on the contrary, other than helping us raise a bit of money, the platform really helped us in spreading the word...it has been as valuable as social media to get the word out about our project.
While a lot of the die hard fans like myself have had strong opinions on who they would have liked to see as Roland or Susannah, I myself am very happy with the work the entire crew put into the film. I’m very proud of what we accomplished and I hope that the source of the material itself, Stephen King, enjoys the fun little project as much as we do.
Shahab Zargari is an award-winning filmmaker. After years of creating original YouTube and Vimeo content, Shahab jumped into serious filmmaking with his year-long science fiction film project, The Crystal Crypt, starring husband and wife acting team Yuri Lowenthal and Tara Platt. During that year he also worked with the same couple on a short film titled Out of Time, and most recently finished his new project, a successfully funded short entitled Susannah's Lesson.