Calling all Horror Film Lovers – An exclusive interview with acclaimed writer/ director Lauand Omar
2014 was a bad year for horror movie fans; the hand-held-camera or documentary-style genre was probably at its peak and has hopefully reached its end. So how much longer do we have to wait to see a decent horror movie? What if I told you there is a chance that we will get see a horror movie with motivated and talented cast and crew, an original and very creepy storyline that is not just a cheap copy from other movies, and a breathtaking setting? I know you just heavily nodded full of excitement and asked “Who? What? When? Where?”
Acclaimed writer and director Lauand Omar already made a name for himself in the Middle East and North Africa and is about to take over Europe – France to be precise – with a new TV series.
One of his latest movies, Curse of Mesopotamia, will be released in the United States in Spring/Summer 2015. It is a horror movie based on a terrifying legend from Kurdistan.
The movie is about half way done. The crew started shooting the movie in Iraq when all of a sudden it came to an abrupt ending. Due to a crisis that involved Isys they had to leave the country, and are now in need of funds to finish the movie and spread the Curse of Mesopotamia.
It is up to you now to help them shoot the remaining scenes and present this interesting movie to the world. Before we continue, have a look at the creepy teasers that are out right now.
Did I promise too much??
I had the pleasure to interview Lauand Omar and find out more about this highly anticipated movie and Lauand himself.
How did you know about the legend of Kawa, and what made you come up with a story about him?
I’m Kurdish from Syria so I grew up celebrating Newroz with my family, every march, the Newroz celebration is like celebrating New Years for Kurds and Iranians and others from the region formerly known as Mesopotamia, parts of Syria, Iraq, Iran and Turkey.
I always loved horror movies and the legend itself is about a Demon that tricked a King in to eating children’s brains, very creepy! Magic, Witches and Demons – I always thought a modern take on it would be fantastic! So I took the legend and played with it. My story plays with re-incarnation; it’s set in both the present time and the past. Also, the legend of Kawa has never been told, like so many other legends and stories from this region, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only film lover that is ready for something fresh and original.
How would you describe your directing style?
I’m a big fan of 70’s cinema. I would say my storytelling style is very character and dialogue driven. I’m not much into the quick cut style that has become more and more popular. I love long takes, where the characters take you on a journey with them, for that strong dialogue and great actors are needed.
Name three movies that inspired you to become a director.
I spent half my childhood in the video store annoying the owners to let me rent horror movies! The Omen was one of the first movies I remember that left a huge impact on me, and is still one of my all-time favorites. Also Rosemary’s Baby, a classic, copied so many times but no one has been able to get close to its magic. Oh, and also The Goonies (smiles)
Are there any directors you look up to?
I love David Lynch! I was hooked to Twin Peaks when it came out and still watch the DVD’s every now and then. Also, Mulholland Drive is one of my all time favorites. David Lynch is amazing, his characters are so interesting, so original. he has such a magical view on the dark side of life.
I also love Gregg Araki’s movies. Again, interesting characters, I love how he explores characters that are not considered mainstream, be it LGBT characters, troubled heroes or just plain out crazy Motherf****s. Nothing predictable with him.
Where did you grow up and who inspired you to be the person who you are today?
Life itself inspires me, my family, my loved ones. We had to leave Syria for political reasons when I was little and I grew up between the Middle East, Tunisia and Germany. Being a Kurd without a country, and moving all over the place kind of stuck to me. After Germany I lived in Mexico for 4 years, then went to film schools in the US and Canada. Then work has taken me to live in UAE and Morocco. I spent the last couple of years between France, North Africa and Kurdistan Iraq.
What’s after the Curse of Mesopotamia?
It’s hard right now to jump in to new projects, there is the fear of losing focus on finishing Curse of Mesopotamia, but it has been 4 month since we had to stop filming and things need time. For now I’m lucky to be able to work on 2 exciting series, one for France and one for Tunisia. I will be writing, Switchers and Aassas, which made a lot of noise and had huge success in Morocco and Algeria last year, Switchers becoming the most watched web series in all Africa and the Middle East, Aassas (Al Khamsa in Algeria) the first supernatural/comedy TV series for an arabic audience, currently in post-production, both directed by my co-creator Aksas Actarus.
Judging by the teasers I want to see a sequel. Do you plan on writing/directing a sequel?
OH YES! The Sequel is in the works. I shouldn’t say much yet, but be prepared to see Kawa fighting alongside one of your ancient hero’s maybe….Each part of the world has some legends that should be told. Finding the way to cross over from the past into the present and taking care of unfinished business is one of the main themes of the sequel I’m writing.
In my opinion 2014 was a horrible year for horror movie fans. As a horror movie lover, can you name or recommend any good scary movies that have been released this year?
You are right. I’m so bored of the same story told over and over again. I have been very busy this year but I tried to watch as many movies as possible. I stayed away from the sequels and remakes, and from what I have read and heard I didn’t miss out on much. The only movies I remember watching this year are The Canal, really really good! Also an indie called The possession of Michael King. It had some really creepy moments.
Tell us one interesting fact about you that no one would guess?
I’m an open book, whatever you guessed is probably true, and worse! (Laughs loudly)
What would it mean to you if the funds for the movie were covered?
Finishing the movie and getting it out there means everything! I have been trying to make this movie for 3 years now. And it will hopefully happen, one way or another. Having a script and trying to get funding is hard enough, having to stop in the midst of production after starting to see amazing footage is the real nightmare! Feels like a curse almost, but when you start a curse, you have to finish it. (smiles)
We are eying a LA or Morocco shoot to finish the remaining 3 weeks, all depending on when and how much of the required budget we can raise. We got what we needed most from Kurdistan Iraq, which are the 600B.C. scenes, most of them filmed in the 6000 year old castle Citadel. Now what is left are mostly the present day scenes, which could be shot anywhere. If all goes well we will be happy to present the world Curse of Mesopotamia early summer 2015.
Thank you, Lauand for this great interview!! I am sure I’m not the only one who can’t wait for the movie to be released!
TO DONATE AND HELP LAUAND OMAR AND HIS AMAZING TEAM TO FINISH CURSE OF MESOPOTAMIA PLEASE KLICK ON THE LINK BELOW.
And to finish this whole post, here’s a little sumary from the master himself, Lauand Omar: