An Interview with Farnoosh Samadi, writer and director of 180 Degree Rule

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I had the absolute pleasure of speaking with Farnoosh Samadi about their debut feature film 180 Degree Rule. As I stated in my review, 180 Degree Rule is a truly harrowing film that is one of the most emotionally devastating films I have had the pleasure of seeing. I had to find out how she was able to make a film that would impact upon me so in such a visceral way and fortunately for me, my questions were answered. This is what we got up to, I hope you find it as insightful as I did:

(Writer, Director Farnoosh Samadi)

Dan: Where does the film get its name and why?

Farnoosh: To find the title of the film I thought about many things and discussed with many people but at the end this title satisfied me more than others because it was multi- dimensional.  First of all the woman is creating a new reality from what had happened, the reality that she wishes to be, so she is interfering in the reality and changes in a way that she likes. This is what cinema is doing. “Creating the reality in a different way and in a way that filmmakers want”. That’s why I decided to use a cinematic term for that. Apart from that if the same situation would happen to the man in the film, does the woman forgive him? It means if we go 180 degree to the other side was the situation similar? And at the end, as in Iran, the father has more right than mother, so could the woman sue the man? These were the questions which led me to this title.

Dan: What inspired you to make 180 Degree Rule?

Farnoosh: The main idea of the plot is based on a true story that has happened to a friend of mine some years ago. While writing the screenplay, I tried to change some parts to make it more cinematic. Earlier, when I decided to make my first feature film, I thought of making a trilogy about the lies, secrets and their consequences in the lives of the people, this is the main idea of my short films too and it’s such an important concept to me. The story of “180 degree” was long with me and I thought it’s that perfect first episode of the trilogy.

Dan: How were you able to progress from short films to your debut feature? 

Farnoosh: It’s been a long time now, I have been writing and making short films and I had never been hasty to go ahead with my feature film. I wanted to gather more experience. Making a short film has nothing to do with directing a feature film as they are two individual mediums; just like writing a short story is absolutely different from writing a novel. I enjoyed making both and I really want to continue making short films in between.

(Farnoosh Samadi)

Dan: What was your approach to making a harrowing film such as this?

Farnoosh: I knew it would be a shocking film from the start. For rewriting each of the key dramatic scenes (I don’t want to spoil by mentioning the parts), I would go through an awful emotional ride and would lose a complete working day before I could get back together. So I think it was obvious for me what it could do to the audience. What I really love to see is that the audience feel empathetic with the characters, judge them all through the film, so that by the end, they are entangled in doubts, not knowing who was right or what they would have done if they were in such position. The truth is we all act differently facing the same circumstances, we might behave so strange because we are raised in different cultures and with various mindsets, so morality may have numerous meanings for us.

Dan: How were you able to get such devastating performances from your actors? 

Farnoosh: Sahar Dolatshahi is one of the 5 most professional actors in Iran and I am honored to have her in my film as the leading role. Sahar played Sara as if she was reading my mind and it was amazing. Unfortunately due to time and financial problems I did not have the chance to rehears with the cast and I just used my experiences from making short films; With them I always tried to choose my cast based on what I felt is the closest image to my film’s characters. For 180 degree I did the same and I was really lucky to cast Sara’s parents who are both very fine and experienced actors too. I had to keep Sahar in isolation for most of the time as she needed to act her sad and happy moods in one location and she really needed her focus and alone time. One of my challenges in casting was with the actor playing the character Hamed. Pejman Jamshidi is an Iranian comedy actor and ex footballer, and 180 Degree was his first drama, but it was an interesting transition; to break down an actors’ type was one of the firsts for me and it was amazing.

(Franoosh Samadi on set)

Dan: With 180 Degree Rule, What did you want to achieve as a writer, as a director and how did these goals differ at all? If so how?

Farnoosh: I wanted to have a new approach towards screenplay writing and directing. In most of my short films I’ve worked with non-actors but in my feature film I faced a new challenge working with professionals and had too many shooting locations too. And of course I need to mention that each episode of my trilogy is based on the short films I have already made or written. I live for the challenges to come and I go for new experiences all the time; I chose film making as my profession just to be able to live the excitement, and I keep wonder is there more to life?

Dan: What is next for you?

Farnoosh: Right now I’m going through the next episode of this trilogy. This episode is a psycho drama with a male leading role who is keeping a secret and makes enormous incidents in their lives. The main plot is already done and I am preparing to start the screenplay.