Keon Hedayati, 25, is a young rising star in the independent film community. Growing up in Irvine, California, the popular and athletic Keon found his passion for film and writing in high school. Upon graduating USC film school, Keon wrote, directed, and acted in his first short film Strongboy, which was nominated for over a dozen awards from various film festivals, winning Best Editing at the London Filmmaker’s FestivalHe then turned his focus to produce another short film of magnanimous scale “Tyrant” which he hopes will win the 2018 Oscars award for Best Short Film. Currently, Keon is living in mountainous Northern Idaho to concentrate on making his first feature film: ERECTUS. In this interview, Keon talks philosophy and what inspires his art.
I sat down with Keon for a phone interview. The following is paraphrased.
Who is Keon Hedayati and why does he feel that his voice needs to be heard?’
I’m Keon, I’m 25. I am a filmmaker and a writer. I think my voice needs to be heard because we have a lack in society today in literature being read and what creates the all-encompassing perception is having to read stories that put you in an empathetic mood. If you are reading biology or even if you are reading biographies, you are not necessarily stepping in another person’s shoes. But if you are reading a novel, it allows you to really build on what empathy is.
The reason my voice needs to be heard is that I think it is absolutely imperative that we get society to read novels. I read a lot of novels and I write and through that I have gauged a new mode of philosophy because people do not read philosophy any more. The only way people really get their perception is through advertisement and entertainment. It is a responsibility for entertainers. The only way we can truly be philosophical and altruistic is if we put people in place to build on empathy. That’s why I think my voice should be heard.
What led you to become the artist you are today?
I have always wanted to represent our species because we all come, we all go, and then we are born into something else whether we like it or not. Maybe not our consciousness but our matter is refurbished and put into something else. I think what made me interested in this kind of endeavor is that I always thought that we are all going to be other things and we all have been other things.
You are born you die, you fertilize the soil, worms eat you, you become grass, and the grass is eaten by a cow, and then you are shat out, and then the fertilizer keeps it all going. What I’m saying is the reason why I am into this kind of thing is that even though we all have been something else and are going to be something else, we happen to be the most, in our known universe, we happen to be most intelligent and the luckiest, of all beings. I’ve always seen that as the greatest gift we can have.
I’ve been in this art stuff so we help our species and represent our species so in the end, we reach some kind of transcendent purpose. We have the knowledge that we are going to be something else when we die. Whether it is nothing or something, we are all going to be something else when we die. So if we use the knowledge that we are the luckiest and the most grandiose for purposes other that virtue, it hurts not only us but the earth as well. I got into this so that I could hopefully improve that.
You talk a lot about empathy. What do you want people to feel when they view your work?
I want them to feel synergy and that’s a topic of interest lately to me. What is the universe? I think the universe is a connectivity of every single thing that you could see or know is interconnected in one way or another.
Whether you look at a tree and you see the branches and you see the way the roots it is coming out of the ground and you see the way that it is spindling towards the sky and its all got purpose. It creates a chain reaction that influences everything around it. That’s how the universe works. We have a star, the sun, and it influences everything in its field, and then we have all the other stars in the sky that influences their respective fields, but even their gravitational field influences us millions of light years away.
Every single thing is connected. Empathy is getting somebody to realize that it is all connected and that the universe itself has a balance. If you fall into that balance, then you will never be excessive and you will never be underwhelmed.
You will be right where the universe is: which is a creative force. The sun is our god because it created everything around us. It is not a malicious force so I think anything that is destructive goes against the universe. However there is always a balance, the sun burns regardless.
Why does the world need you? What would be missing from the world if you just got up and quit today?
I think there will be another just like me. Because this shake* regurgitates. Think about how many billions of people who have existed. I think personalities leak over. That’s what makes us an organism, not individuals. We are not really individuals. Everything that is born is born into an organism and I think that if I was to not be born, there would be another entity or being that would do my job for me anyways.
What do you want to feel from your audience?
I feel that my audience, at least I hope, are thirsty for knowledge because if a film is only entertaining and doesn’t have any higher purpose and doesn’t have ascending qualities to it, then it is just an indulgence, like eating a candy bar. So I like to think that my audience, if I have one, are thirsty and they don’t just want candy, maybe they will get candy but they will get some protein or vegetables along with it as well. So I think that that maybe the demographic that watches my films.
Let’s talk about the influence you have had for your writing. To say that you are a connoisseur of European philosophy would be an understatement. European philosophers heavily influenced both Tyrant and Strongboy. Can you tell us which philosophers’ works are you the biggest fan of and what would you recommend that your fans read?
If they want to start somewhere, I would say start with Plato. The Republic. I like the Symposium more. I like any of his Socratic dialogues. I think any of his Socratic dialogues are just incredible. What I have been getting into that’s been changing on that stuff is the ancient prehistoric civilizations.
We forgotten about them and they have a really strong message, these ancient civilizations. Even though they are prehistoric, they still have tradition. They were around for much, much longer than we were around for and they had the same brains.
Philosophy is great but philosophy only really comes down to language and there are sciences that came before the study of morality and divinity and those sciences really only focus on essence. That is what I am reading now and it is very fruitful. Check out stuff about the ancient civilizations such as Egypt and Machu Pichu.