By Laurel Busby
Cameron Pazirandeh, 33, imagined a movie about a man who had only two weeks to live. This guy would be a loner, who had difficulty forming friendships, and yet, also someone who sought to share these last two weeks with another person by recording parts of his experience. The idea would allow filmmaker Pazirandeh to shoot the movie immediately using just his iPhone and iMovie on his computer. Plus, he could play the main and only character.
“As a producer, I am not willing to wait; I’ve got to do this now,” said Pazirandeh, who graduated from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts with a film degree three years ago. “I shot the movie in two weeks, in real time basically. Every time I felt like he should say something, I would sit at my computer and record a video.”
Pazirandeh, a 2002 Palisades High School graduate who was also the captain of the varsity soccer team, used both his bedroom and a few local spots like the Palisades bluffs and the PaliHi neighborhood as locations for his movie, which is titled Two Weeks to Go.
He recorded it this summer, edited the piece in the fall and then released it in December with a showing at the Laemmle Playhouse theater. It is now available for free on Amazon Prime in two lengths—17 minutes and 56 minutes—along with some of the other films produced by CAMPAZ Films, Pazirandeh’s production company. A two-hour version has been completed, but is not yet available on Amazon.
His portrayal of the main character, who is never named, has a warm, slice-of-life quality, and the loneliness and sadness of the part even worried some family friends after they saw it.
“It’s pretty hilarious,” Pazirandeh said. “After I screened the film for family and friends for my birthday, some of my friends’ mothers were concerned for me. They thought this was for real. One said, ‘If that was all acting, quit your day job, and if wasn’t all acting, I’m really sorry for what you’re going through.’”
Pazirandeh, who grew up with his parents Irene and Reza and younger brothers Kevin and Sean in Pacific Palisades, used aspects of his personality to inform the character, but amplified them and also added other traits.
“I was very conscious that I was using parts of myself for this guy, but I was also using parts that weren’t me,” Pazirandeh said. The movie’s main character lives a secluded life, but he’s “a loving and spiritual and introspective guy . . . If there is a message, it is you don’t know what’s lying underneath these odd people.”
In high school, Pazirandeh was part of Pali’s old Media Academy, which got him hooked on filmmaking, and he entered the Tisch School right after graduation, although he took some time off before finishing his degree. In high school, acting wasn’t his forte, but he loved making films with friends as actors. But in NYU’s directing program, acting was a prerequisite for all of the directing majors.
“I was a terrible actor in high school,” Pazirandeh said. “In the musicals, I was the one guy who could dance, but I was a horrible actor. In college, I learned that if I wanted to be a great filmmaker, I had to know how to write, and if I wanted to work with actors, I had to know how to act.”
In addition to filmmaking, Pazirandeh is also currently designing board games, including NATIVE, which is a strategy game set in a tribal culture (visit thenativegame.com). The game was showcased earlier this month.
He is at work on a new film with artist Paul Doolin titled The Topanga Experience, which focuses on the unique Topanga locale.A preliminary cut is online at thetopangaexperience.com. However, his biggest focus now is promoting Two Weeks to Go.
“This film is I think inspiring as an iPhone film, because really anyone could have made this with their phone and basic Mac,” Pazirandeh said.