KIANA ft. Lou Celestino - wait on me
‘wait on me’ is a twisted love story set in a dystopian Tehran, Iran, inspired by retrofuturist aesthetics of American science fiction films and comic books of the late 20th century. Through a modern retelling of 1984-esque dystopian stories that are familiar to western audiences, the narrative pays homage to the real life Iranian couple who were arrested and sentenced to 10 years in jail for a published video of the two dancing in front of Tehran’s Freedom tower, as an act of defiance within the recent and ongoing protest movements.
The star crossed lovers in our story, portrayed by KIANA and Lou Celestino, the singers of the dark R&B track, find themselves jailed in a dystopian prison in Tehran. Visions of a free past with her lover haunt KIANA, as Lou sings for their lost love. In a final sequence referencing real life reported conditions in Iranian detention centre, the prison guard makes a sexual advance on KIANA, as she sees an opportunity to turn on him and break free.
Credits / Collaborators / Cast
Director & Editor: Sina Dolati @sinadolati_
Producer: Shaghayegh Haghdoust @shaghayeghhy
Production Company: LOVE @_love.watch
Director of Photography: Bryce Zimmerman @zimmermanbryce
Production Manager: Kia Mozaffari @kiamozaffari
Assistant Director: Eric Lee @eric_lee1193
Production Designer: Joe Desousa @traksousa @trakfve
Wardrobe Stylist: Angie Jayasinghe @bby_aj
Starring as ‘The Guard’: Pouyan Azarkaman @pablazar
VFX Producer: Daniel Pianezza @danielpianezza
On Set VFX Supervisor: Daniel Pianezza @danielpianezza
Compositor: Daniel Shpuntov @danielpianezza
3D Environment Artist: Daniel Shpuntov @shpuntsz
3D Lighting Artist: Daniel Shpuntov @shpuntsz
Hair, makeup & spfx artist: Julia Karmasin @julia_crimson_makeup
Hair, makeup & spfx assistant: Tanya Bishoff
Choreographer: Shakiba Fadaee
Sound designer: Anthony Abbatangelo @anthonyabbatangelo
Colour: Kevin Wu / Artjail @bykevinwu @artjail
1st assistant camera: Oleksii Furdiiak @oleksii.furdiiak
2nd assistant camera: Patrycia Daszkowski @patricia.dasz
Steadicam Operator: Michael Distefano @distefano
Gaffer: Roham Abtahi @projectroe
Key grip: Scarlett Stinson @scar.stin
Swing grip: Behnood Abedi @crazyskull.prod
DIT: Pasha Soltani @pashs0ltani
Cinematography Mentee: Anthony Sardo @iknowwhatisaw
BTS Crew: Shayla Anderson, Arman Sadrazadeh, Adrianna Marling, Emmanuel Teji @andshayla @armansaturday @adrimarling @amanwhowill
Craft Services: Yazdan Kahlaee @kahlaeee
Production Assistants: Arad Youssefi, Sina Saghaei, Niki Assadian, Pasha Soltani @aradixix @sinasgss @niki.niusha @pashs0ltani
Special thank you to: Canada Film Equipment @canadafilmequipment_
Shot in studio.b @___studio.b
This video was created thanks to the generous support of the MVP Project, a joint initiative of RBCxMusic and the Prism Prize (administered by the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television).
Produced by: Eightsarewild, JRCO
Written by: KIANA, Lou Celestino, Sainvil
Mixed & Mastered by: Terrificc
The story behind the film
The final months of 2022 was a dark period for all Iranians around the world. I would wake up to videos on social media filled with violence and police brutality cracking down on innocence civilians in my homeland. I was looking for a way to express anger and frustration the best way I knew how, through my work. In October, I reached out to KIANA, a talented Iranian woman and musician who shared the same sentiments and the concept of a dark love story set in a dystopian Tehran came to be from the beautiful track ‘wait on me’ featuring Lou. Our proudly all-Iranian trio was completed when my good friend and talented filmmaker Shaghayegh Haghdoust joined us as the producer on our journey to pursue a grant from the MVP Project in Canada.
A few months into the movement as we developed the storyline, the world was shocked by the news of a 10 year jail sentence given to a social media influencer couple who released a video of them dancing in front of the Azadi (Freedom) Tower in Tehran. With ‘wait on me’ being a love song, I thought this would be a beautiful opportunity to pay tribute to this real life couple and raise awareness about the situation.
Given my passion for vintage scifi and comic book aesthetics, the story was wrapped in a dystopian visual universe that took inspiration from Western pieces of media like 1984, Blade Runner, Equilibrium, and so on, along with some 80s slasher horror elements. This also presented an exciting opportunity to realize a recognizable piece of Iranian architecture, the Azadi (Freedom) Tower, in a dystopian world, which hasn’t been seen ever before. I ultimately hope the science fiction take on the story can bolden the message and have more impact on new non-Iranian audiences as well.
Along with planning out building huge set pieces in studio and months of VFX work, getting the story right was one of the biggest creative challenges I’ve ever encountered – to create something that is informative and brings some level of awareness to the real life movement, while staying authentic to Kiana’s brand as an artist and her mode of self-expression, and to set all that in a visual universe inspired by western Sci-Fi films and comic books.
Of course, the project is told through the lens of entertainment and fiction, and doesn’t claim to ‘document’ the dark reality of Iranian prisons. Digesting this piece might be difficult for some, though this was our way of widening the scope and bringing awareness to a western audience who otherwise might not be exposed to the subject matter. It’s been a creative risk but even if a few minds are informed, I think we’re on the right track.