World Premiere Highlights of SFAA!

Premiere went real well in LA! We soldout and had some great performances from Steve Roggenbuck and Mira Gonzalez.

Please join us this coming Saturday, December 15, 2012 at Indie Screen in Brooklyn for our NYC Premiere.

We also had some nice reviews in LA Weekly and Throwing Rocks at Squirrels.

Thank you to everyone for making all this possible. Who would have thought an independent film would be able to premiere in six cities and have so much fun doing it! Thank you!!

Steve Roggenbuck, Mira Gonzalez, and Other Boosts

Steve Roggenbuck has a simple message: to spread poetry and uplifting memes to the world. His reasoning comes from the fact that death is inevitable, so why not do exactly what you want and accomplish all your dreams. Now he is touring the United States and staying with friends while he does poetry readings and offers people uplifting "boosts." His motto is "Boost your lief!" I want Steve to keep boosting forever. Check him out and support his cause.

If you want to get boosted in person, GET TICKETS ONLINE and join us Friday, Dec. 7th for the world premiere of SHOPLIFTING FROM AMERICAN APPAREL and a triple dose of boosting that includes performances by Steve, Mira Gonzalez, The Shoplifting Family Van Trap Tap Dancing Trio, and a hella fine movie (popcorn not included).

Shoplifting from American Apparel Movie Tickets For Sale!

Six premieres, Six Cities. Buy your seat or the screenings will not happen!

SHOPLIFTING FROM AMERICAN APPAREL is a docudramedy that melds Tao Lin's autobiographical novel about getting arrested with a film crew’s misadventures with indie filmmaking.

Tickets are currently being sold at for the following cities:

Q&A and prize giveaways at each screening! Click city below to buy tickets!!

12/7 - LA - LOS FELIZ 3

Each screening will include prize giveaways, special guests, and a Q&A with zen teacher and actor Brad Warner and director Pirooz Kalayeh.

Guests confirmed for the LA screening: Brad Warner, Pirooz Kalayeh, Steve Roggenbuck, Mira Gonzalez, Alfred Rutherford, Andrew Crighton, James Roehl

The hip are bored and they want you to know it. Part absurdest documentary and part cinematic realism, Shoplifting from American Apparel moves between the life of the actual writer who has written the popular novel on which the film is based to the mishaps of a ragtag film crew who offer each other challenges to make certain scenes despite unforeseen creative roadblocks.


MS Word Press Materials
PDF Press Materials


SHOPLIFTING FROM AMERICAN APPAREL will now be playing in select theaters across America. The theaters are as follows:
  • 12/7 - LA - LOS FELIZ 3
  • 12/15 - NYC - INDIESCREEN
We will begin pre-selling tickets on October 29th at

How is this possible?

The fine folks at Local Screen contacted us to run some beta testing with a new distribution model: play anywhere a fan requests via the Internet. 

Like PARANORMAL ACTIVITY's advertising model, fans can request SHOPLIFTING to play at a theater near them. But unlike the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY campaign, we don't need to get a million votes to play a theater. Just one request by a fan is all it takes to get the wheels in motion.

Once a request is made, tickets for the film go up for sale on the Local Screen website. If the number of tickets needed to insure the rental of the theater are sold--usually between 20-60 tickets, depending on the size of the theater--then the film will play the city requested.

To kick off this tour, SHOPLIFTING will screen across America at six locations prior to opening up the venue for fans. Like the fan model, we will be pre-selling tickets to insure the theater rental is secured.

For these first screenings, we will personally be attending the events to do a Q&A, give away free signed full color posters (first 20 ticket holders in line), sell DVDs and shirts, have bands, such as THE OHIOANS, DJs, tap dancers--and anything else we can come up with to make each event unique and fun.

If you're interested in joining us at one of these events/screenings, please visit Local Screen or ILIKENIRVANA PRODUCTIONS to purchase a ticket or learn more about some of our other projects.




 How long will tickets be on sale?

About a month or so, but you'll want to buy tickets early because there are limited seats for each event. 

When are the Q&As?

Right after the screening.

Can I get free tickets for my friends?

No, but you can buy a bunch online and give them away. That would help us get the minimum number of tickets sold to meet theater costs and increase SHOPLIFTING's exposure and potential to play other cities.

Can I buy a bunch of tickets at once?

As many as you want.

Can I request the film to play closer to me?

Yes! If the film is not playing near you, then you can request the film to play close by. Once the film goes live on the local site, there'll be an easy submission button to make a request. Just make sure you let friends know so the minimum number of tickets are purchased; it's typically a 20 ticket minimum for smaller theaters. ; )

Can I get my DVD, T-shirt, etc., if I already donated for that incentive amount to the Indiegogo campaign when I come to a screening?

Yes! Fans who donated to our Indiegogo fundraising campaign that started it all can bring a picture ID to claim relevant incentives (DVDs, etc.) at screenings. All other donaters will be mailed incentive prizes no later than January 15th, 2013.

What about digital incentives for Indiegogo donaters?

Downloads of digital incentives, such as the Paper Tree Toy and film's soundtrack will be e-mailed to donaters who qualify for those prize giveaways on November 5, 2012.

Can I buy a DVD or T-shirt if I did not donate to the campaign?

Of course. We will have lots of merchandise for sale, including books from the authors and other special guests at the different screenings.

Will DVDs or T-shirts be on sale online?

Yes! DVDs, T-shirts, and other merchandise will go on sale after December 7th on the WEBSITE.

When will the film be available to stream online?

We're discussing that with distributors now. Stay tuned for an update.

Loren Goodman's Top 500 Songs: 271-280

Loren Goodman pieces together pieces from XTC and The Bellamy Brothers for a musical collage that will delight listeners of his continuing list of Top 500 Songs.











Zombie Bounty Hunter M.D.

The ZOMBIE BOUNTY HUNTER M.D. shoot went well. Camera and audio were solid. We got the opening scene without any issues at all.

Mad crazy skills from Stacy A. Smith on the make-up EFX. Great zombie actors as well.

Special thanks to Camp Whittle for letting us shoot up in Big Bear.

I'll edit this first section together and have it out before Halloween.


This film will be a Kickstarter campaign and be released as 12 webisodes. The final full length film will be released for digital download with bonus scenes after all 12 webisodes have been released to the public.

Donaters will receive name in credits, first view of webisodes, and different gifts depending on donation level, including zombie apparel, digital downloads, and signed limited release DVDs.

That's the gameplan. I hope all of you help fund this thing. It's going to be funny and moderately scary. I've put the logline below.

Tagline: How many hits do you need to survive?

Logline: A financially struggling film company begins documenting the onset of a real zombie outbreak in Orange County. After posting the first gory attacks, they are convinced they are going to be rich megastars, but Internet commenters describe the clips as "fake" and "unrealistic." Determined to get hits by any means necessary, the production company enlists the help of a Zen priest, a soft-porn star, and a Hollywood stuntman to help them get the hits they need to survive.

Read and see more here.

Special Note for SHOPLIFTING donaters: We will be handing out incentives within the year. We're still waiting on hearing about a few more film festivals this month. An official release date will be posted on our Facebook page by November.

Zombie Bounty Hunter Time!! Calling all Zombies!!!!

Getting ready to shoot opening to ZOMBIE BOUNTY HUNTER M.D. If there are any former AMDA students or folks in the LA area who could spend a day with us as a zombie or a couple being eaten by zombies, please message PIROOZ KALAYEH. We will be shooting in Fawnskin CA (about 2 hours away) on September 9th or 15th (TBA). We'll drive you to the shoot. It'll take a whole day. Probably leave around 11 a.m. to get there around 1 p.m. Then shoot until 7 p.m. TAKING THE FIRST 6 responders...

End of Another Korean Adventure

Today was the last day of courses for the summer term I taught in Seoul, Korea. I had some great students from all over the world. My favorite moment today was a Chinese student giving me a hug and telling me how much the theater course helped him open up and get more confident. This was a big moment in my life. Mostly because I didn't expect it.

I never know if students like the way I'm teaching or not. It's hard for me to gauge because I often push students to the limit of what they might be comfortable with doing. For example, the theater course the student was in began in complete silence, as most of the students had never performed in public, or even talked aloud--since lecture-based classrooms are more the norm outside the US. I could have done a more traditional course, but I just went with the "doing" experience. I don't really know why. I didn't even know if it would work at all.

Surprisingly, the students moved past their initial fears, did some play reading, a few acting exercises, some musical pieces, and then the floodgates started opening full force once we got to explorations in writing.

Then we come to today. The class did four performances of plays that they adapted from stories by Mallory Whitten and Brandon Scott Gorrell. The plays were loose adaptations combining some thematic elements of the pieces, but, for the most part, they were combining all they had learned about focus, spatial presentation, lighting, acting modalities, and, without knowing, creating suspense and humor. The end result was a series of unique pieces on modern technology, hopelessness, and relationships.

To add to the excitement, they then presented final projects of four different films. I was blown away by the hard work, promise, and talent a completely silent class was now exhibiting only six weeks later.

I wonder what would happen in 12 weeks. 

Now I'm staring out at the night skyline in Seoul. I can see the concrete buildings with hundreds of dark windows peaking out beneath the trees in front of my balcony. I look down and see some students on a park bench in the courtyard below the dormitory. It's the smoker's spot. No one is smoking though. One of them is leaned over heavily. The other comes up. They do a half-hug, like most dudes do without getting overly weepy. I can't hear anything because I'm five stories up, but I imagine that it goes back and forth with a few quick, "Yeah, man. It was fun." And then maybe another awkward pause. Then there's the picking up of the suitcase.

I watch as one of them walks down the steps and out towards a taxi in the parking lot. The other guy is looking over still hunched over at the bench.

I look back at the skyline. It's darker now. More lights reflected in the skyscrapers. So urban and different than how I grew up.

I think about the endings in my life: Summer camp of 92'--a flash of a pond, my brother wading up to his kness. My sophomore year at University of Delaware: I wanted to stay at the Pencader dorms. I wanted life to continue the way it was. I didn't want an ending, but I knew it was there. Life would not be the same. I just knew it. I looked around to see if anyone was still hanging out. Maybe I could have one more last chat. I could keep it going. I could have another ten minutes of this. I leaned over the railing and--

The street lamps are being switched on automatically. I slide the door closed to the balcony and sit on the sofa by myself. Sogee is in a Starbucks doing her thing. I have nothing to grade or things to do. I just sit on the sofa. Then I realize it: I'm in Seoul for another BIG ending. Last time, I was ready to leave. I was excited for it. Now I know I'm saying a deeper goodbye. I'm not sure when I'll come back. I can sense that this might be the last time for a good long while. It would be nice to hold onto this feelings of loss. I enjoy feeling empty sometimes.

I sit on the sofa for an hour by myself. I fall asleep. I wake up with my hand tingling from sleeping on it in a strange position. I shower. I walk into the bedroom. I pack all my things. I turn on the air conditioner. I fill a water bottle with water. I sit on the sofa. I stand. I sit again. I think:

I'm a little scared, excited, and curious.

I head back to L.A. in a week. I'll be making some webisodes with Brad Warner, finishing a documentary, releasing these other films, and teaching some production classes at UCLA Extension and a performing arts university in Hollywood. 

I wonder what this year will be like. I'm so curious.

This'll be nice to write before I die.

So I do.

Fans and Haters Can Now Send in Video Responses to be in Brad Warner Documentary


Dear Fans and Haters of Brad Warner, 

ILIKENIRVANA PRODUCTIONS needs your opinions for our upcoming documentary on BRAD WARNER. 

If you would like to potentially be in the film BRAD WARNER'S HARDCORE ZEN, please send video clips in response to any of the following prompts to or piroozkalayeh[at]

Please finish this sentence: "Brad is _________."

Please also respond to any of the inquiries below:

1. Do you think it's wrong for Brad to be working with the Suicide Girls? 
2. Do you think Brad's a normal Zen teacher? 
3. Have you ever met a Zen teacher who plays punk rock music? 
4. Why do you think Brad is or is not a good Zen teacher? 
5. Who is Brad Warner? 

You are welcome to film with any camera. Just be sure that you are close enough to the microphone and use the questions in your responses i.e. "Brad Warner is a horrible Zen teacher because he is hedonistic and likes dinosaurs." 

Please also keep video clips under three minutes in length, so our serves don't die. : ) 

Once clips are sent, we will follow-up with a performer's release that allows us to use the footage in the documentary. We will also be sure to list any contributors in the film's credits. 


Pirooz Kalayeh 


THE WHOPPER STRATEGIES is an illustrated novel with poems, memos, and recipes for coming up with great ideas.
Synopsis: In the tradition of Kurt Vonnegut and Richard Brautigan, comes The Whopper Strategies, a faux manual on corporations, politics, love, and Enlightenment. Pirooz M. Kalayeh, author and narrator of the novel joins the ranks of the fictional super power, Phipps Inc., where his mandate is to concentrate on the future: because that’s what matters and all that will ever matter. Sent to the Future Division of the Phipps Inc. Super Building, the narrator makes quick progress in coming up with several big ideas, or Whoppers. He helps with the company’s new campaigns, including Appreciation and The Crying Policy, while still adhering to the guidelines set in the Optimum Diet Plan for Whopper Cultivation. It is not long before he is introduced to the greatest Whopper of all – Enlightenment In A Box. The only problem is how to package it for consumers.

Available now on Amazon Kindle!
"Composed in simple sentences that belie its complex intentions and enhance their revolutionary effects, The Whopper Strategies is a book that demystifies and devours our corporate culture. Kalayeh has written the anti-manual for the twenty-first century."
—Jim Goar, author of The Louisiana Purchase.

“Crackling with mordant energy, bursting with trenchant wit, The Whopper Strategies is a technical, metaphorical, and ontological knockout. Pirooz M. Kalayeh is a writer to watch.”

—Laird Hunt, author of The Impossibly.

"With the innocence of an infant and the sharp knife of the satirist, Mr. Kalayeh has constructed a world that trips lightly across one’s retina and at the same time burrows deep into one’s heart. He holds a feather in one hand and a burning torch in the other, to tickle and tease with the former and burn away all illusion with the latter. The Whopper Strategies, like the best of tales, delights, thrills, bludgeons, cajoles and enlightens."

—Marlowe Fawcett, director of The Other Half.

"The Whopper Strategies is like a techno blast to the gut."

—Noah Cicero, author of Best Behavior.

"I like The Whopper Strategies. It's a good book. It is easy to read. The sentences are short. They are also clear. There are many funny parts in this book. I laughed many times. It is about how spiritual things are marketed as products. It asks us, "Is this the right way to deal with spiritual matters?" I also think this is a problem. So I am glad that Pirooz Kalayeh wrote about this problem in a book that is easy to read. There are also pictures and they are funny too. I think this book is good for those reasons."

—Brad Warner, author of Hardcore Zen.

"At first you are wondering if he is going to be able to keep this up. 'I wonder if he is going to be able to keep this up,' you say. "And then you realize Kalayeh has made a world out of tiny words and big ideas. 'Kalayeh has made a world out of tiny words and big ideas,' you say. "Inventive, surprising and sweet. Feels like many things you have read before (in a good way) and like nothing you have read before (in a good way)."

—Charles Yu, author of How to Live Safely in a Scientific Universe

"The future is all that matters, and all that will ever matter."

—Reginald Phipps, CEO, Phipps Inc.

Writing Reality with Zombies

I finished writing the zombie movie. I read it to my youngest brother. He said it's the "funniest, most interesting thing" I've written.

Zombie image courtesy of Uncherished
That means a lot coming from him. It's not that he is a film connoisseur or that I am in particular need of his approval. I just don't think there's been one artistic thing I've done that he's really connected to. I mean, I know he's liked things I've done enough to say "that was funny" or "it's interesting," but I've never gotten the combination together.

I realize there might be a chance that someone just reads that as me being sarcastic, since his statement was simply a combination of the two things he usually says, so let me clarify by saying: the dude liked it.

This is huge for me. I rarely set out to make something that appeals to younger people, meets this demographic, or is "popular." I literally cannot operate like that on a 100% capacity. I mean, somewhere in my head I'm sure I'm aware that that's coming into play as I think about an audience, but those thoughts usually dissipate to what I feel MUST happen. It's like once you have characters living and acting in a world you've created, they cannot be any different than they are. You can only change scenarios. They might say different things in the new scenarios, but, more than likely, the best combination will be what is most appealing to me personally.

That's the funny thing about writing a story. A writer makes around 12,000 choices (guesstimate) that will lead a reader from beginning to end. There could be so many different paths along the way, but each writer is going to make decisions based on personal interests, identity, and upbringing--there are also a hundred other elements that I'm not including in this minor and limited list, but I hope to just graze the surface of this idea for the sake of the point--and that is that a written work (or any created piece of art) requires a series of choices that are also based on the series of choices that make up each individual artist. So, if you can imagine, a completed work of art is really more like an M. C. Escher painting.

Like the Escher painting pictured, we can see continuous reflections of a set of stairs. Our eyes can wander up and down any set of stairs, as we try to move up and down this maze of possibilities. Each of us is going to gravitate to a different point, and each of us is going to traverse a different path. This is a rough approximation of the decisions that lead us through life or the creation of a work of art. My brother might find this painting to be a gimmick or an interesting piece for the contextual reference of this posting now having an experiential effect on his viewing of this piece. He may, like most of us, forget the correlation of this post with the painting and experience it completely fresh based on the specific moment when he views the piece.

Likewise, my brother's acknowledgement of the zombie script as something worthwhile could simply be an alignment of tastes and choices in his life at this particular moment, and the choices I made to create it. Still, there is a certain satisfaction in knowing that I've finally appealed to someone whose tastes in life are so radically different from my own. That, in essence, is what I would hope for when creating something, but that I can't entirely manufacture without losing the essence of an unconstrained work of art.

No one wants to feel duped into a purchase, unless the purchase itself is outwardly making an ironic comment on people being swindled. That's the funny thing about creation. People often get so caught up in making something appeal to one group or another that they swallow the actual possibility of making something that is real. This is what lies at the heart of everything we encounter in our everyday lives. We are looking to react to what is real--a proposition that can become bewildering when the constant advertisements and stories we are fed by the media and our own friends and family are befuddled with a lack of authenticity.

That is why what appeals to me most in life is when people are offering something that is true. I have been able to find this in the works of countless artists, including fellow contemporaries (small sampling), such as Harryette Mullen, Tao Lin, Jordan Castro, Noah Cicero, Jeffrey Brown, Keith Haring, Caveh Zahedi, and Brad Warner. Each of them offers their truth to the world, and I can acknowledge each of their creations because they touch this chord. I may not agree entirely with the ideologies each offers, but I can appreciate that their creations are the products of seeking the truth within themselves. This is often more successful in certain pieces than others, but those works that offer the most honest reflection is often what is the most appealing.

This last element is what drives me each day to create the things I offer to the world. In some cases, I may be telling the best lie that is actually my most honest reflection, but it is this reflection of reality as I see it--or its manipulation into a way that others can digest it into the way I see it--that excites me most about making films or anything else.

So when my brother says that he enjoyed a comedic zombie script that is a comment on consumerism and the way people interact and digest reality, I can pat myself on the back, because it's so rare to make something that appeals to myself and another person that has a completely different world view. Of course, the funny thing will be if anyone else likes this script besides him. It could be that I've written something that appeals only to people in their twenties. That's fine though. I can always try again. It's fun to make things. Maybe this time a film about vampires aging or a Martian invasion will be closer to the truth.

2012 Update

I have been fairly busy since my last posting refining the films I did last year for distribution. Now it looks like things are steamrolling for an eventual release this year of two films: SHOPLIFTING FROM AMERICAN APPAREL (SFAA) and THE HUMAN WAR (THW).

SFAA is an adaptation of the novella by Tao Lin that also offers a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film. The film has gotten a lot of attention from its inception as an Indiegogo fundraiser and throughout its filming. Now various edits are making their way through the festival circuit. I haven't sent it to a lot of festivals because it's a costly process, so I'll only send to a few more that seem worthwhile. If it makes one of these festivals--which is difficult when you don't know anyone at a festival and your film is one among thousands--then the release date will be sometime in October. If we don't make any and we go to virtual distribution, then we'll have to wait and see if a virtual distribution company wants to take us on, or if it's in our better interest to distribute independently.

Many independent filmmakers are distributing independently these days. Some are not even bothering with a festival release or going to a virtual distribution company. I understand the sentiment. I do think it makes sense for certain films with an incredible fan-base to go straight to independent distribution. SFAA might be just such a film. Timing is really the main factor. That's why I'm currently looking into how I can coincide a multi-tiered campaign that includes a festival release, digital distribution, and a film tour for indie films and artists. I'm not sure if I can pull off this tour in a major way, but I would like to do a tour of 5-7 cities on the West and East Coast with some of the films I've created (and a few others) and a few bands. I'll be arranging all this when I return from teaching some film courses in Korea in August. Who knows? This might be the best route for SFAA and THW.

Speaking of THW, that film has been a two-year process in the editing room. Why is this? Well, it's mainly due to money and time. Now we've finally gotten things set with a final polish by the best editor in the world Stephanie Shyu--Steph did SFAA and is now editing the Brad Warner documentary. Currently, Mike Franklin is mixing the sound for the film. The final product will start making its rounds to the festivals in August. My guess is that it'll get a festival release by January, if we're lucky.

In the meantime, the Brad Warner documentary will be edited in the next few months. Afterwards, it'll go through its sound mix and be ready for a potential festival release by October. I am not sure of its exact release date, because, at this point, I'll have to see if it'll be in our better interest to go with a festival or straight to distribution. Again, it's a matter of timing. Each successive film builds on the previous, and with the virtual distribution platform changing so rapidly for films, it's hard to say what will be the best route forward.

That's why I'm currently exploring the webisode market. Films are a costly and extensive process. Each one takes at least two years to fully complete, so the attraction of doing webisodes fits better with my interest in creating and releasing something quickly. I don't know how many webisodes I'll do before doing a full film again, but I am looking at how to create a film that operates first as webisodes, and then progresses into a release of a full film with its collected parts. This proposition seems the most attractive way to release a film at the moment. In the future, and with the relative success of these projects, I may have the financial freedom to create a film with a large budget, but, for now, I believe the next projects will be straight webisodes and collected webisodes that can then be released as a feature film.

This next year will be a busy one with releasing the films and creating web content. Brad Warner and I will be moving in together in June to start the process. The plan is to start a factory of creation. We have some ideas ready to go, but I'm most excited about a script I'm writing about zombies. Time will tell if it sees the light of day. Thus far, the first third of the film seems exciting to me. If you see a fundraiser in October or so, then that means it was worth doing. We'll just have to see if anyone else likes the idea as well.

Brad Warner Documentary: Hardcore Zen

Today we finished shooting the Brad Warner Documentary. This was one of our last shots of the day. Stay tuned for some webisodes.

The Starving Artists

Tagline: An American Dream in the 21st Century.

THE STARVING ARTISTS, Song #5, The Renazantz (free stream)
Link coming soon...

THE STARVING ARTISTS, Song #4, Beach Boyz (free stream)

THE STARVING ARTISTS, Song #3: Got TSA (free stream)

THE STARVING ARTISTS, Song #2: Platoon (free stream)