RAINBOW SEASON LP & A Dark Desert Drive with No Lights

It's been a decade since I released a "full length" record. The first time up, I was just learning music production. I had never recorded anything myself before (not entirely true; I had recorded a short film score ((STILL LOVER)) on a portable multi-track), and my understanding of the process was from what I gleamed from observing my friend produce my first record, which was purely an instrumental one. While I had some production credits on that, my role was in composition, instrumentation and performing, not in tracking, or any of the studio stuff associated with recording records. Up to that point, I had been in and out of bands, mostly just playing electric guitar. But the opportunity appeared because I felt like I could do it. The thought just sprang up in my head, and like the field of dreams, it had to be done.  

It was an intense ordeal, since I had no clue, and was left to learn everything myself, from the ground up. But that process taught me an invaluable lessons; that if you want to do something way outside your competence, it can still be done. Dive head first, break shit, learn, and if you're still excited, do it again was the ethos. You have that bounce back energy with youth & there never is anything to lose. Time refines process, but process comes before quality even after refinement. You never really know quality (it's an intangible), but you always know process & that's easier to refine. 

My time in music happened in a similar way to filmmaking. It was the start of the digitalization of media. Computers and soundcards and emulation and plugins and as important, digital aggregators where making the home recording possible, and the barriers to entry affordable. All that was left was the energy, the desire and the doing.

In 2007 I released a short instrumental record, A DAY LATE: INSTRUMENTALS FOR ILLEGAL ALIENS under my project alias at the time, SHANKS AND THE DREAMERS. My friend Ray P headed the production. He had recorded a couple of DIY albums (they still hold up) for his own projects and was a super fan of Steve Albini's style and methodology. We did the tracking in a music space (Bassland Studios) in Santa Ana California headed by OC electronic music pioneer Alex X. from the project of the same name BASSLAND (location where I shot a film called "my break ups into a million pieces"). A DAY LATE had six tracks and it took nearly 2 years to complete. Scheduling the sessions, mixing, tracking, school, work, and balancing my first love, film, expanded the production cycle way past what I had anticipated.

As a son of first-generation immigrants, my life seemed completely foreign and wayward to my parents. They had no idea where I got my interest in music, as I had never played an instrument before, except after high school, while in college, picking up my first guitar while I studied at UCLA.  Though the seeds were planted much earlier, and maybe I'll write about that in a different time. In any case, all was upheaval. It's hard to transpose an understanding now, to how things were. At that time, my choices were limited, because my understanding was completely limited. So, I could only see two viable options. Go back to school, or work at a coffee shop for the rest of my life (this binary seems incredibly naive and silly, but I suppose that's how it looks for large swarms of people). There were no career aspirations in art, even though all my time was spent doing it because I was disconnected from that reality even existing. It was an impossibility. And of course, that impossibility was just an illusion. But an illusion is no different than a reality, without the tools to break through.

In any case, and to the relief & constant campaigning from my parents, I headed back to school for a graduate degree. This experience made me an advocate at dissuading most from going through the same mistake. It is part of my story, and I would not change it in any way, but when asked, I offer the truth. And that truth is that for the majority, there are much better options and routes. 

And that leads me the last full-length record I did many years ago. A month after I shot my thesis project, I recorded my first full-length record under SHANKS AND THE DREAMERS (it had turned more or less into a band at this time), "MY DARLING DIA". It took a few intense months of education, assembling the tools, learning the programs, writing the songs, and tracking.  And all of it was a giant fuck up for the most part. But it was the single greatest music production lesson I ever learned. It was a condensed, intense education, full of "Skin In the Game" and no help or resources other than my partner at the time (Art Toussi) and localized friends in the scene (bands) and of course, the web. To my giant relief, almost every question had an answer on some forum once you filtered through the arguments. And some of the tools I gathered for that project still sit in my studio (music hardware lasts much longer than the digital stuff). Here we were, a local two-piece band out of Orange County Californian, self-producing an entire record, sitting in one of the top NY Mastering Studios, where a single compressor cost more than the whole production & still completely clueless, but feeling accomplished & wild-eyed. Oddly enough, neither of was thought of ourselves as musicians really. We both had wholly different lives with trajections that had nothing to do with music.

Which leads me to this. My first full-length record under my project MIRS, RAINBOW SEASON is coming out later this year. While I've been recording EP's and singles for the last several years under MIRS, I had assumed that a full-length project was out of the scope, as each EP was thought of as my last time recording (interestingly, music had always been regulated as a side project until the last couple years when I dropped compartmentalizing everything).  But, with time and refinement usually bring in something else. Help. And ever since CANYON, MIRS has had lots of help. So what was once a solo endeavor now has the assistance to take the means of communication into another space. 

And that all changed because one thing was missing. The desire to repeat & expand the process, something that I had always wanted to do with this new project, but never allowed myself to go all the way. It was another glass ceiling. That's what they always are. 

It took a long time to get to CANYON and the merging of music & film, but not surprisingly, it's just another beginning.

 

 

 

 

"Three Worlds" Teaser Trailer Debuts

Three Worlds teaser trailer - Vimeo 

Three Worlds teaser trailer - Youtube

Zebras in America Podcast Episode 54 with filmmaker Amir Motlagh

Was interviewed on the Zebras in America podcast with host Marcus Pinn (Pinnland Empire) and Scott Thorough. We discussed a range of topics, with the focus being my two latest 2018 films, Three Worlds + MAN.  

Come listen in to Marcus Pinn of Pinnland Empire describe Three Worlds "like jazz".

Three Worlds - Mother's Day Surprise!

Happy Mother's Day! This is a surprise clip from the upcoming feature film, THREE WORLDS. Sign up for the mailing list on the sidebar to be the first to know our next screening/release schedule. Look out for our trailer coming shortly.

Synopsis 

Three Worlds (2018) is a psychological science fiction drama that explores the three lives, or 'worlds,' of a man who undergoes an experiment that triggers haunting memories and alternate life 'memories.

Cast / Crew

Written & Directed by Amir Motlagh
Produced by ANIMALS, Amir Motlagh, Charles Borg
Director of Photography: Amir Motlagh

Cast:

Amir Motlagh                 Saam Heidari
Samantha Robinson     Ashley Evans
Rey Deegan                   Charles Adler
Keaton Shyler               Danica Mihajlović
Gregory Linington        Thomas Blaumberg

Editing:  Bryan Tuck,  Amir Motlagh
Original Score by:  Julian DW Brink

Sound Designer & Re-Recording Mixer: Stephen Holliger

Media Quotes

“It’s always exciting whenever a distinct new voice makes itself heard on the indie landscape. Amir Motlagh is such a voice.

honest and soulful.. ”

— Adam Schartoff FILMWAX RADIO

““These unique experiences are made even more exceptional for their Iranian-American perspective.” 

...the experience of both films (MAN + Three Worlds) is one that any film connoisseur must have. To sit with an awareness of the film, and, an awareness of how you are watching it, is a surreal act that can only be described as “art.” Motlagh’s work is definitely a piece of art in the medium of film.”

— Jonita Davis THE IRANIAN

“there is without a doubt a definitive boldness to “Three Worlds”, both in its tone and aspirations, and it will certainly require viewers to lean in a little closer, which is never a bad thing…..a curious and fascinating watch.”

— David Fowlie KEEPING IT REEL

Three Worlds - Rooftop Sequence
Amir Motlagh as Saam. Samantha Robinson as Ashley
Gregory Linington and Amir Motlagh
Three Worlds - Suburbs of California
Keaton Shyler as Danica
Samantha Robinson as Ashley Evans 2
Hollywood Lake Amir Motlagh Keaton Shyler

Film Reviews...

Here is a quandary. I don't subscribe to reviews nor read them. The good or the bad weigh  equally in my book.

However, they provide value to those who are interested. And, in my personal case, anything good that comes down the pipeline is a tool to possibly get others interested. And for that reason alone, I share the good that comes down the pipeline.

Our Chicago screening went well. A film critic from THE IRANIAN (Jonita Davis) was sent to review the films, and she had a favorable impression.

You can read the whole post here: 

Some take away pull quotes:

This was a film that turned the job of “watching” back onto the audience, forcing them to reflect on the things seen, heard, and felt….

the experience of both films (MAN + Three Worlds) is one that any film connoisseur must have. To sit with an awareness of the film, and, an awareness of how you are watching it, is a surreal act that can only be described as “art.” Motlagh’s work is definitely a piece of art in the medium of film.
— Jonita Davis
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Two interviews - Filmwax Radio and Keeping it Reel this week

This week, I interviewed with the might FILMWAX RADIO podcast hosted by Adam Schartoff and Chicago critic, David Fowlie's film discussion site, KEEPING IT REEL

Both discussions centered around my latest feature films (MAN + Three Worlds) that are preview screening in Chicago today (4/21) at Chicago Filmmakers. Both were gracious in having me on.

The FILMWAX podcast runs roughly an hour and includes Vera Farmiga and Tommy Avallone as guests before my segment. You can just my segment of the FILMWAX interview here. Though I think you should just subscribe to the FILMWAX podcast because it's excellent.

 

 

 

Will be a guest on FILMWAX radio later this month in support of the new projects

As part of the promotional run for the 4/21 double feature screening, I got invited to do the popular film podcast, FILMWAX Radio. The episode should air later this month. 

My producing partner Charles goes in to film an interview segment with CHICAGO FILM NEWS later this week.

All in all, things are moving along on getting these films out into the public space. We have gotten several distribution offers (for the only film we are showing to companies right now), and are weighing our options.

My real drive at the moment is showing these films together since they are all part of the same series along with CANYON. But, of course, I'm flexible on this since this is not all under my control.

In any case, if you're reading this, and program film slots, let's talk. It's a win, win.

MAN & THREE WORLDS AN AMIR MOTLAGH DOUBLE FEATURE PREVIEW SCREENING presented by Chicago Filmmakers

The THREE MARKS, TOO MANY SIGNALS series of works gets a double feature screening of MAN & THREE WORLDS, presented by Chicago Filmmakers. The presentation starts at 6pm, Saturday, April 21st. 

The box office is open, so we would love to see you there. I am planning on attending (schedule permitting) but my producing partner & co-writer on MAN, Charles Borg will be present. If you are press, or know anyone who would be interested in writing about the event, or needs screeners, please reach out. 

This has been a long time coming, but we wish to come to other cities. If you are interested in booking the films, please reach out. Whether it be film festivals, one-off events, microcinemas, arthouse theaters or gallery spaces (etc), we are open and excited to hear from you. We want to bring this to you in a way that feels organic and connected.

I'll be updating as the date nears. Thank you all for the years of support. 💚

 

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Anza-Borrego and the desert soul (soil)

i enjoy desert hikes in the night. the landscape & fauna take on a completely different character. the quiet, the darkness, and the enormity of the space swallow you up. we humans often feel like aliens, as if we were put on this earth, a separate from, forced to survive the inhospitable. the desert represents that essence well. it is a faulty, modern feeling of course. we are as much part of the earth, as the earth is part of us. 30k years ago, a human walked on this very part of the earth, not feeling as distant to the soil (aridisols) as we do know. of course, this is a presumption, but, it's a bet i'd be willing to make.

below is the night study (anza-borrego 03.05.18 - 10:30pm)

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Double Feature Screening....

Looks like both the new features will be screening together late April. While MAN is locked, still working on finishing THREE WORLDS. My big aim all along was to be able to screen these two works along with CANYON in a single show. Basically, the THREE MARKS, TOO MANY SIGNALS series as one piece.

A long road indeed. Stay tuned. If all works well, I should be able to announce the location and date. One really big thing to note, it's not an LA show. We don't do arthouse well in LA :) 

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