Written and produced by Dana himself, Neon Lights follows Clay played by Dana, a thirty two year old, revolutionary tech-tycoon who is on the verge of a hostile takeover, until he loses his cool during an interview, and retreats to a remote hideaway with his estranged family to restore balance in his life.
Neon Lights will be premiering on AppleTV+ and Amazon Prime on July 12th.
Hi Dana, welcome to Close-Up Culture. What was your inspiration for Neon Lights?
Thank you so much for having me! It’s a lovely pleasure to be here with you.
Well, truthfully, during the height of the pandemic outbreak, I began to wonder what we could make when the world slowly opened back up that was controlled.
Rouzbeh (Director) and I began working on a construct of a story that could relate to the audience on themes that was current – mental health, being primal – and really distilled the production to mitigate the risks associated with the time.
We came to then create Neon Lights, a psychological thriller, about a tech-tycoon who deals with mental health issues, childhood trauma, and overcoming personal fears.
Tech-tycoons have been the the central focus of a number of films in recent years. Can you tell us about Clay and what you wanted to explore through him?
With Clay, we unveil the challenges many tech-tycoons face in their day-to-day lives. Mental health and social anxiety being at the forefront of that exploration.
We really do a deep-dive into what it can be like, being at the pinnacle of your career, and industry and feeling like you just can’t overcome it, because of your own personal baggage, blockage or inability to cope with psychological ailments.
How was your experience playing Clay and capturing his distressing journey in this film?
Our hopes were to capture a character that was authentic and deeply rooted in the actual behavior and not make Clay a comical version of an individual, and in turn, being disrespectful to those that severely deal with mental health issues.
So, Rouz and I worked tremendously hard to ensure we did the best to capture the real genuine complexities one faces with mental health and childhood trauma. We took our time developing Clay, and spoke to the right folks that would help us further his behavior.
It feels like a lot of pressure, at times, in portraying someone that the audience may feel offended by, but I’m so excited because I feel we did a wonderful job together.
Time will tell, I suppose!
The film is directed by Rouzbeh Heydari. What was your collaboration like?
I love working with Rouzbeh. We have done a film since Neon Lights, titled, A Hundred Lies. He’s my creative partner at this point. We are onto our third film, Black Cat, an Edgar Allan Poe adaptation of the same title.
We really are ‘yin and yang’ and balance each other out. I get him, he gets me.
There were moments on set, that many would not understand, but Rouzbeh knows me and my history (personal) that he can fathom what I go through to bring out the best version of the character, and he truly enables me to know, I am in a safe space around him, whilst at work!
What type of experience can audiences expect from Neon Lights?
This is short and sweet: a wild, thrilling, mental, rollercoaster!
The film is premiering on AppleTV+ and Amazon Prime on July 12th. What are your hopes for Neon Lights?
We hope that the audience can take away a lot of the thematic choices we made and as personal questions, while, like any other entertainer, enjoy the film; not only the performances, but direction, cinematography and remember, we did this during the height of the second wave of the global pandemic!
What are your plans and ambitions for the future?
I am actually on the verge of launching my own premium gin company, titled Bay of Bengal, that focuses on the spices from the region of the Bay of Bengal, geared and marketed towards my culture and communities.
Further to that, of course, continued development and growth of Red Hill Entertainment in becoming one of the premiere production companies globally.
I’d also like to own a sports team in the coming years, to really cap off all my passions as a career and industry!