Welcome to “Anaxia”, the world of Weston Razooli; home to alchemists, pixies, and mystics, who run riot in this ancient land of dark magic (with an uncanny resemblance to the Hollywood Hills). A young, LA-based filmmaker, Weston’s films contain worlds within them—from the gonzo glee of his 90s-style crime shorts to the mythical land of Anaxia. No matter the setting, Weston’s films are jolts of pure cinema; they at once feel familiar, but also like something you’ve never seen before. Semaine produced “Anaxia” with Weston, to bring you your first peek into the career of a true original. If “Anaxia” sounds like the fever dream of a 15-year-old fantasy fan, that’s because it is; as Weston told us: “I still feel like my 15-year-old self actually.” Ready to enter? Let Semaine lead the way.
“Anaxia” is a mythic underworld, the likes of which haven’t been seen in a cinema since the surreal, 80s-infused dustbowls of Conan the Barbarian and Dune. In the dark world of Oskexis, The Golden Mystic (Eleonore Toulin) hunts the rogue Oskexian Pixies (Misha and Shaya Keyvanfar), for a rare elixir stolen from her master, Lord Cabirio (Bruno Toulin). The pixies are like the daughters of Xena and Hercules; toying with their male overlords, their spells cast in neon blasts like an old Sega machine, shimmering in and out of view. Their wardrobe and casting process was also quite simple : “The clothes are all things I had in my costume cupboard... and the little girls had been babysat by an old girlfriend of mine!” As the inheritor to David Lynch’s high-fantasy tradition, Weston breathes “Anaxia”, with its war-crazed lords, demons, and ancient elixirs, into life. The subtitled fable mirrors the retro appeal of Saturday morning serials from the 80s and 90s, if not earlier eras.
All its elements came from an unlikely place – Park City, Utah, the snow-capped, Mormon-populated home of Weston’s youth. Though the eternal deserts of “Anaxia” seem alien to this landscape, Weston ended up filming near his new home: “We went up into the Hollywood Hills, by a house in the mountains.” To plant “Anaxia” further in the realm of fantasy, Weston “used a bunch of sound effects from Diablo 2; there’s something cryptic and satisfying about that—I wanted to evoke a vibe of video games from the 90s.”
Weston’s singular style has him earmarked, of course, by Hollywood; he is now developing his debut feature film: “It’s really semi-autobiographical; I’ve never written anything like that before – it’s a comedy and drama, but mostly a coming-of-age film, inspired by a lot of British coming-of-age films from the 60s and 70s, like Billy Liar, Kes, and Scum.” Swapping the spell-casting of Anaxia for the malaise of small-town malls seems unlikely, but, as Weston explains: “I usually write crime and fantasy; but my old manager told me to write something that could be made for cheap for my first feature—I think it’s the best thing I’ve written.” Eyeing next a revisit to his worlds of sorcery, Weston wants to film from another childhood touchstone; the trilogy of high fantasy films he first envisaged at age 12: “I’ve been writing these stories since I was 7 years old. It’s a whole world, it’s an epic high fantasy film with preachers and magic… lots of fantastical things.”
Weston’s samurai and gaming-infused childhood underwrites his love of myths and magic. From his home in Utah, where Weston has been “making films, since 11, since I got my first video camera”, to shooting with Semaine in the Hollywood Hills, or making his feature debut, Weston’s worlds are getting bigger. Describing this first dalliance with Hollywood as “eye-opening”, the gap between his mind’s eye and the world on-screen is diminishing: “I believe I’m getting better at closing it—the more you work, the closer you get to closing the gap.” This week, Semaine spirals into the mind of Weston Razooli; drink the elixir, flee the warlord, or join your pixie bandit; the monsters may look familiar, but this is a whole new breed of magic.
By Jonathan Mahon-Heap for Semaine.