I finished a rough edit of Sometimes I Dream in Farsi this morning. It has the film's basic structure and components. (That's robot speak for "it's looking very good!")

I still have to tighten things and maybe swap certain talking heads and insert some pics of me as a toddler, but it's working to a certain extent, with a lot of what we shot left on the editing room floor.

I suppose that's how editing works. You find a focus and a clear story, and anything that's outside that focus -- no matter how good it is -- just has to be removed. It's tough to do. I'm not sure I could have edited this film so quickly without having made so many precious edits in the past.

But, it's working. I have no sound mix, color correction, or distribution, etc., but I do have the basic skeletal structure for other folks to come now make it better.

At this point, my job is to cut a trailer from this rough cut and raise some funds via a fundraiser and grants. Our choices are to use Indiegogo, Seed & Spark, and Kickstarter.

What's the difference?

Indiegogo is basically a funding page where you keep all the profits you raise in exchange for gifts that donators can purchase.

Kickstarter is just like Indiegogo, but you have to raise a certain amount within a set time frame. If you don't, then you lose all your funds.

Seed & Spark is a fundraising site set-up like a wedding registry and caters to films specifically, so you'll be able to make donations for specific things, such as "camera rental package", etc.

We've done a fundraiser on Indiegogo before, so I'd be open to it, but the International Documentary Association does not support tax deductible donations through Indiegogo -- only Kickstarter and Seed & Spark. So, I guess we go with Seed & Spark, since Kickstarter is now a place for gadgets rather than films.

I'm really glad the International Documentary Association has supported us. I'm already starting to get donations via their page. So, if you've been following and are excited about the film, please consider donating straight through this link, because it's tax deductible for you and goes straight to us as a non-profit.

Besides that, the edit was certainly difficult. I'm sure there will be much more refinement, but I'll let someone else take over from this point if we can raise the funds. We'll need someone to do the sound mix, color correction, titles, and refine the edit -- not to mention distribution, marketing, and all the rest.

But, I'm focused on refining the edit, sound, and color correction now.

Aaron talked about doing a screening of the rough cut of the film here in Los Angeles for some of our friends and family to get some opinions. I think that's a great idea.

I usually send out some private links in the early stages to a few, select friends for notes. It'd be easier to see how the film plays to a small audience and tell you what people might not be able to put into words, but, as a filmmaker, you could just feel in the energy of the room.

I still have to get some scanned photos of myself when I was a kid. I asked my parents and brothers to send me some. Hopefully, it's enough and a high enough quality to start peppering the film with them at certain points. I'd hate to waste money on a plane ticket to just scan photos. Maybe, I will have to do that at some point too.

Besides editing for the last three weeks for 10-14 hours a day, I've been enjoying Meow-Meow, Sohee, and Los Angeles. Even in this heat wave, where we're at 104 degrees, I'm still able to be grateful for being here and having been making all these great films every year.

Okay, so I better get back to it.

I'll try and post a trailer and link to the fundraiser by Wednesday.

#SometimesIDreaminFarsi #Documentary #Racism #Trauma #GestaltTherapy #Editing #Fundraisers #Trailer #IDA

I didn't think I'd be emotional again.

Aaron even pulled me aside before we started and wondered what could potentially be achieved by shooting in yet another barbershop.

"What do we hope to achieve?" he asked.

This was a good question. I knew that having Ray Haratian and Kevin Ramsey doing interviews was important, and I said so, but I also heard Aaron's concerns. We were about to go into an uncontrolled environment, with potential sound issues -- while the establishment was open -- hoping that all the actors would show and do what we could call a dramatic re-enactment, but it wasn't exactly that either.

"Are you doing psychodramas?" Noah Cicero asked me in a text, referencing how I had him speak to me while I played being nine years old, sitting on the floor.

The truth was I didn't know.

"We're basically anti-acting," I explained to the actors later -- once we got to the hair salon.

This is after we had already done the re-enactment. It didn't even feel like acting. I talked out my memory of the traumatic incident: "The barber went for scissors, and then he stood by me -- right behind me. "Then, he put his hand on my shoulder."

"Is this before you spoke to your father in Farsi?" Forrest Lancaster asked, playing the barber, and putting his hand on my shoulder, as I was talking it out in real time.

"No, your hand goes on my shoulder first," I said. "Then my father talks to me in Farsi."

"What does he say?" Ray asks.

"He tells me to be quiet, because I'm trying to say how I want my hair cut in a fancy way."

"Saket basheh," Ray says in Farsi.

As all this is going on, Kevin is watching it all unfold. Then he begins questioning, helping me find what else is there.

"Why do you think your father told you that?" he asked.

Slowly, we evolved from the motion of the whole movement of the re-enactment into this natural flow of us talking about the experience and how that affected each person in different ways.

"I wanted to act very differently," Ray said. "If it were me, and the barber told my child to get out, I wouldn't be so calm."

"Why do you think your father took that approach to do a sit-in?" Kevin asked.

"That was who he was," I said. "Every moment was an opportunity to show oneself and be a warrior."

"What is it to be a warrior?" Kevin continued.

"I suppose for him," I said, "it was being present and ready to stand for action in every moment. It's not letting anyone bully you and standing up to injustice."

Later, we moved into talking about how the film and exercise were allowing men to express their feminine sides, which was not encouraged by any of our fathers, or any of the men we knew. This lead us into a discussion about the #MeToo Movement, and the shifting evolution that came about by standing up to inequalities.

The conversation then moved into another gear, as Forrest wanted to use the inclusive "we" when talking about race, but felt strange about saying it being white himself.

"It is a 'we'," I told him. "It's about all of us."

"There is no way people begin like that barber when they're born," Kevin said, referencing how things are taught, but also going deeper into the idea of how a person can be dehumanized, and it is in that imbalance that the wound is inflicted.

The whole thing ended with me talking a bit about how we were standing up to bullies and being warriors by making this film and having these discussions, and that the best way to fight injustice was to stand to up to it and express when things were out of balance.

"Always speak your truth," I said. "This is what my father and I talked about on the phone the other day. That you don't need to be angry about expressing what's wrong, but just make it clear something isn't appropriate. And, most of that, is just treating everyone like they're human."

After everything, the owners of the hair accessories shop out front, came over, wanting to talk about the film. I knew one of them was Iranian, but it ended up being a whole family, and I had to use my Farsi with the mother, who only spoke Farsi, while repeating myself in English half the time for hopes that the others might pass on what I couldn't remember how to say in Farsi.

"This is a good story," the father said.

I'm not sure how this portion of the film will transpire. I did ask Aaron to shoot the re-enactment slower -- to give it that other worldly feel, but also to have audio not be an issue, since there were so many moving elements.

"I'll shoot it 30% slower. That'll give it a different feel."

In my mind, I could see the film. Its different portions being linked by a voice-over at times. Maybe me saying: "I had a dream that we would shoot this scene and what happened," and then this scene begins.

I'm not sure.

"You need to apply for that Sundance grant," Aaron told me, as we were packing up.

"Okay," I said.

I felt like waiting until I had a rough edit would help our chances, but Aaron wanted the money to come through faster so we could hire an editor from the get-go. He wanted them to edit and me to set-up the structure.

"You don't need to edit," he said.

I feel like I might need to edit a foundation before handing things over. I'm not sure, to be honest. The film is so personal and the interweaving voice-overs and transitions to archival moments need to be mapped out at least as an outline before an editor would know what I'm seeing in my head.

I suppose I'll start outlining, editing, or both on Monday.

Oh, good news! We were officially given non-fiscal sponsorship by the International Documentary Association. This means you can make tax-deductible donations, because we're now officially a non-profit through them, so individuals or corporations can make donations through this link.

I'll talk more about how I feel and have changed since this experience in a few days.

This is Yanni. She has been cutting my hair at Vous Salon on Melrose since 2005. She's an amazing stylist. All are welcome.

VOUS SALON, 7621 Melrose Avenue, (323) 653-5032

#Day21 #SometimesIDreaminFarsi #Documentary #racialtrauma #RayHAratian #KevinRamsey #ForrestLancaster

Today we shot the final images for the dream sequences.

A friend brought her two children to represent myself at the age the incident happened. The idea is that we'd see these images in slow motion alongside other beauty shots, such as the American landscape, etc., to represent the "dream portions" of the film and help us transition from one section of the film to the next.

Directing children is a bit of an art form in and of itself, because you have to be the most free with what is already naturally happening.

"You are on a magical blanket where anything can happen," I told the young actor of seven years old.

"Oh, you can tell him what he's actually doing," his mother said. "He's a realist."

Then she proceeded to tell him that he's acting like his uncle when he was a little kid and that he couldn't do any dabbing or other modern dance moves. This got him really excited and he started dabbing immediately. That cracked me up. It also told me he needed no real direction, but rather games to play, so I just asked him to do things like I would back when I taught physical education as a substitute teacher back when I was a college student.

"Race your brother," I said. "Now run around him three times."

Then, I figured we could tire him out a bit, so it was a balance between letting him do what he wanted and then encouraging whatever was working. That's why I let him keep spinning in a circle once he started.

"If you go for three more minutes, you'll be the champion of the world," I said.

He went for another minute before he fell down.

After that, I had him lie down and look at the sky. To keep him focused, I just asked him how many leaves were in his favorite branch.

"Two," he said.

"Can you count them?" I asked.

"1-2," he said.

"Now," I said. "Find a bigger branch. How many are there?"

As he counted, I grabbed a bunch of leaves and poured them over his head. This made him laugh and he immediately grabbed them and started talking about them.

"Can you make them talk to each other?" I said.

"Oh, hi," he said from one to the other. "Oh, hi."

Then I told him to pretend the leaves were him and his brother. He did this for about two minutes before he got angry at the leaves and created another game and wanted to smash them and throw them on the ground. This was when I got him to lie back down and describe the clouds. Luckily, Aaron had already asked him about his favorite basketball player, so when I asked him what the name of the cloud was in the sky, he said "Stephen Curry."

"What does he like to do?" I asked.

"Play basketball," he said.

These shots got us these great images, where he was engaged with the world above him and could serve as his imagination or these dreaming states I was hoping for. I could see that we could potentially split the screen, overlay images, or just let it play as it was and have it jump between images of other things.

This was where, in your head as a director, you're already editing the film as the same time as it's happening. This can be difficult, because you're seeing it in real time with the imagination you're also holding editing the piece. So, your mind is tracing back other images that were caught, and you're seeing this go with that. Once you have at least one sequence that's working in your imagination, you can start directing back in the live moment happening in front of you.

Some of this is mostly instinct. In this case, I knew we needed more motion shots, so I asked him to walk hand-in-hand with his mother. He let this go for exactly two minutes before he wanted to change it. That's when I followed him with that idea and asked if he was ticklish. His mother took this cue, and the two of them began to play naturally.

"Can you both lie down and look at the sky?" I asked.

He did this for a minute, before he wanted to lie down with his mother as a pillow. She tried to get him back in position, but I said that this was perfect. Then, they just naturally played together and were mother and son for a good five minutes.

To end the day, we had planned to get the brothers ice cream. This was another great moment, because the parlor had blocks for them to play with, which added to the fun of seeing them try to eat each other's ice cream and getting upset when one's blocks were knocked down by the other.

At one point, the youngest one dropped his spoon on the floor and dipped it right back into the ice cream and went at it.

I did a little shout and let his mother know. She just smiled at me.

"The amount of bacteria these kids consume, it's going to be okay," she laughed.

This was like mother supreme moment #723 for her. I've met a lot of mothers who are good at balancing motherhood with life and go with the flow. She was exceptional though. I made a mental note right then and there: "If ever having kids, they will consume bacteria, so don't sweat the small stuff. Also, be as cool as this human."

When I showed one of the images to my father, he was ecstatic. "The one in the red shirt looks like you," he said.

"Yeah, dad. That's why we thought of using him," I said.

The similarities are pretty uncanny -- even down to the missing front teeth.

There's only a few interviews left. Aaron suggests I let someone else edit. I'm not sure yet. The lazy part of me is all about someone else editing. There's also the issue of having real objectivity, but I am concerned about finances, and me doing one more role would help cut down those costs. Time will tell. We haven't gotten any funding from grants yet. I was thinking of applying to another this weekend, but maybe doing a fundraiser simultaneously would be wise. There's no guarantee with getting any funds, and we've been successful on sites, such as Indiegogo in the past, but Aaron is suggesting we try Seed and Spark this time, because as a non-profit, we'll be able to save on taxes.

I'm at this point, where "all of the above" makes sense. This means I'll start editing the film this week, and hopefully, put together a super rough trailer, submit to another grant, and start a fundraiser before the end of June. I figure if I do these things, the ball will be rolling. If someone else comes on board to edit later, then, at least there'll be a framework. Maybe that's what I need to do anyway: lay down the foundation.

Who knows? Watch me edit this whole thing.

#Day20 #Directingchildren #Documentary #SometimesIDreaminFarsi #LosAngeles #PiroozKalayeh