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CIFF Stories: Calgary director Ramin Eshraghi-Yazdi gets wrap party thanks to festival screening of debut feature Drop

Calgary director Ramin Eshraghi-Yazdi's first feature film, Drop, screens at the Calgary International Film Festival Sept. 26 and 30. He shot the film using a Calgary cast and crew over 20 days in the summer of 2022. Calgary director Ramin Eshraghi-Yazdi's first feature film, Drop, screens at the Calgary International Film Festival Sept. 26 and 30. He shot the film using a Calgary cast and crew over 20 days in the summer of 2022.

Calgary director Ramin Eshraghi-Yazdi wore a lot of hats to shoot his debut feature, Drop, in a way that maybe only other directors of micro-budgeted feature films could understand.

Drop, a drama about an aging dancer trying to save a young man from a life of crime, will be screened as part of the Calgary International Film Festival on Sept. 26 and again on Sept. 30.

It's a made-in-Calgary film starring a cast of local actors, including Christopher Clare, Shemar Herbert, Michael Burt, Ian Brice, Malyia Clare, Nima Fard and Renee Amber.

Behind the scenes, it was made by a crew of Calgary film and TV professionals.

Even the dance sequences have a Calgary pedigree: they were choreographed by Clare and former DJD dancer Kaleb Tekeste.

Drop tells the story of an aging dancer's friendship with a young man weighing a life of crime

Drop was shot over 20 days in the summer of 2022, Eshraghi-Yazdi says – and despite the involvement of dozens of Calgary artists, it was still a little too DIY for comfort.

"I really felt the weight of it on this project," he said. "This is at least a 10-hat project," he added, including directing, scriptwriting, cinematography – and all the little odd jobs on a film set when there's no budget left to hire anyone.

"Hone your skill set," he said. "Stretch budgets. You need to be able to juggle a lot of balls in the game of filmmaking."

One of the pleasures of shooting Drop was the dance sequences choreographed by Clare and Tekeste and shot in the DJD Dance Centre, which offers a stage with a backdrop of the Calgary skyline behind it.

Dance sequences in Drop were shot at the DJD Dance Centre in downtown Calgary. (Photo Nur Films)

"I love it," Eshraghi-Yazdi says. "I absolutely adore it. Christopher (Clare) was a breakdancer, so it wasn't something I had to prep too hard for."

Even in the Drop trailer, the dance sequences pop out at the viewer – the Drop equivalent, say, of a car chase.

In fact, that's how Eshraghi-Yazdi approached filming dance.

"Filming dance is a lot like filming an action sequence," he said. "I didn't want it to be like a music video. I wanted it to be as if the audience was watching a performance. I didn't want to take the audience out of it (the film)."

Eshraghi-Yazdi has made a number of mini-documentary films about the arts for organizations such as Calgary Arts Development Authority and Telus Originals. He's also one of the creators of Cowtown, a YouTube comedy show that was one of the training grounds for Andrew Phung before he went on to Kim's Convenience and Run the 'Burbs.

He's developing a new scripted television series and a feature script with Shane Ghostkeeper set in northern Alberta.

He's also a Calgary booster who advocates for the city when he's in Montreal, where he also spends time.

"I tell people how lovely Calgary is for filmmaking," he said. "It's a blank slate, in a way. It's so open.

"And the light is amazing," he added (he used natural light to shoot Drop). "Magic Hour lasts so long!"

Calgary director Ramin Eshraghi-Yazdi

And what it means to have Drop shot in Calgary is that Eshraghi-Yazdi finally gets wrap a production that started 15 months ago.

"It means a lot," he said. "When we finished shooting Drop, because the whole thing was a micro-budget project, we never got to have a cast/crew wrap party.

"So having a hometown screening answers that.

"It's lovely to have that opportunity," he added. "Calgary is where I've been telling my stories. Love this city dearly."

The Calgary International Film Festival kicks off Thursday night with a screening of Geoff McFetridge: Drawing a Life. The festival runs through Sunday, Oct. 1.

For more information about CIFF, go here. Top Stories

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