What drew Deepak Chopra to this project?
Emad: Deepak and the executive producer, Peymaneh had a pre-existing relationship that they developed while working on meditation about ten years earlier. The executive producer read the script for this film and thought “what an amazing marriage between this film and Deepak. This was written for him!” So he sent Chopra’s wife an email and she replied with a yes, a resounding yes. Deepak signed on as the narrator of the film. He was unavailable to meet up with us so we had to fly to Florida. When we showed up –there was no entourage, no body guard– just him. And as we worked together, he allowed himself to be directed. After he finished reading what Sarah had written for narration, I asked him “Can you please elaborate on your understanding of consciousness and the universe?” What he then said were the words and the visuals that were already written into the film. I was in tears while recording. The scene of the sandcastle when he said in words of Rumi, “You are not just the drop in the ocean, you are the mighty ocean in the drop,” fits perfectly. And the scene when Danny is lost in the blackness where Deepak says, “We come spinning out of nothingness,” I had already shot the scenes of them spinning. To me, it cannot get weirder than that. It was as if it had written itself.
Who built the epic sand castle?
Sarah: That was the art department!
I noticed Danny Had a special touch to his writing, tell me about his character.
Sarah: I am Danny (Jon Foo, Tekken) and his character was basically the male version of me. While writing the feature I would sometimes call myself out and say “I’m acting like Danny again.”
Do the words twin flames mean anything to you?
Emad: The premise of two characters meeting in two different universes is based on twin flames. The feature film, which is in the works, is based on this. I personally have just met my twin flame. Knowing what that means only comes when you are in a relationship, intertwined in a way in which you complete each other being both male and female, building on each other. So in a large way the film draws its inspiration from that.
Tell me about the tree that is a recurring theme in the film.
Emad: The tree is a constant, it’s nearly in every part of the film whether it be the actual tree, an item worn by Sarah, even paintings on the wall in the background. The tree manifested itself into the film. We originally wanted a symbol to speak for the film, but every time we went to look for a symbol– the tree popped up.
What are your thoughts on the concept of fate?
Sarah: I don’t believe a hundred percent in fate. There are millions of coincidences, the film for instance. But we all have choices.
Emad: I believe in infinite possibilities. We don’t have a choice and we are definitely bound to fate if we put on the mask of following and conforming. If you were born Muslim, Christian or Jewish and you follow in the footsteps of everybody around you and become the good soldier and go to school exactly like they tell you, become a lawyer or a doctor exactly like they tell you, then you are definitely fulfilling your role in fate. But as soon as you unmask yourself and open your consciousness to the infinite possibilities… there is nothing but you and your choices, there is no fate. You make your choices second by second, not day by day, year by year or even decade by decade. You make your choices now.
What were some of the challenges you faced in the making of this film?
Sarah: For me there were no challenges. The film just flowed. It was after the film that I felt stressed.
Emad: I would say this is one of the easiest projects that I ever embarked upon. It flowed as Sarah and I willed it. Everyone in the cast and crew were on board. So what if there was construction next door? So what if a bulldozer is moving concrete next door? We got the sound. Even when some of our locations didn’t pan out and we had to start over we made it happen. It all worked out. Our outlook made it easy. I think the time-lapse scene was the hardest part. 6 hours of filming and we couldn’t move. We had other people bringing us food. It was hot and a bit uncomfortable. But even then we completed it.
Tell me about the musical score.
Emad: I was adamant about having a score that conjured up an ethnic background but used western instruments. I wanted a piece that sounded like Erik Satie and a cello that played at the very high end of the scale, which is hard to play. For that I employed my dear brother Basil Moore who is a fantastic composer. He knows my DNA. So as soon as I told him what I wanted, he looked up into the sky and said “I got it!”
Is there anything personal that you two took away from the film?
Emad: I am completely transformed. My relationship with myself has changed, let alone my relationship with the world. It’s one thing to plan and think your ideology, but once you implement it, everything changes. My connection with Sarah and Jon and myself has deepened greatly.
Sarah: I feel the same as Emad. Also, meeting Deepak was pretty life changing. He’s so cool. I couldn’t believe how interesting and down to earth he was.
What is the word on the feature you plan to create around Duality?
Sarah: We have the script, we are just polishing it. Quite a lot of it is in place already. The small things need to fall in place now. I will be acting, Emad will be directing. We are still coming up with a name.
Emad: We are working on getting an amazing young singer and an amazing producer to write a song for the film. I have the visuals in my head, I just need to sit down and draw out the storyboard. I want to work on it from both a commercial and a personal side. Sarah did an incredible job writing it. We have a few financiers lined up, but I want to find one that’s really into the idea. They will be working on our next big project which will be titled “The United States of Israel.”
Is there anything you want the audience to know before they see this?
Sarah: For the short film, I want people to know that it’s open for interpretation. I’m interested in peer feedback and I like to hear what other people have to say. Everyone seems to have their own interpretation.
Emad: I feel the same. We set out to do a work of art. We want to create a piece that leaves the viewer thinking differently about the film from when they started it. It’s just amazing how well everything fit together. I went home and sketched everything out in the beginning stages of the film; down to the details of Jon’s Hair match the final piece.
Hope you enjoyed the interview! Here is a link to the official trailor: