Caveh Zahedi / Kyle Roberts

Caveh Zahedi headshot

When I was considering people to write my profile on, I began to think of people that have influenced me throughout my time here in New York. I could think of nobody more appropriate than Caveh Zahedi, the screenwriter and director who I’m working with while I’m here. He’s been instrumental in introducing me to new films, and different ways to view films altogether. 

Backstory: Caveh has been interested in films for a while. He knows his stuff. “I started making films in college. It was a way to combine art and politics, and I liked both of those things,” he said. “A part of me wanted to change the world, and another part of me really loved art. Film’s a way to do both.”

In his college career, Caveh made over twelve short films. For the following five years of his life, Caveh worked with experimental short films. 

His first film, “A Little Stiff,” documented a reenacted crush he had on a girl. “It was easy,” he said regarding the film, “everyone played themselves.”

For a long while, Caveh lived out in San Francisco. 

“I liked living there, but there’s not a whole lot going on in the narrative film, which is what I’m interested in. There are very few producers and actors. Most of the producers and actors move to Los Angeles, and I didn’t think I could get to the next level.”

One early project sent Caveh to Rome, where he was living at the time; however, the project fell through, and Caveh lost more than just a movie opportunity. To work on the movie in Rome, Caveh gave up both his teaching job in San Francisco and also his apartment! He and his wife also had a baby to take care of. With nowhere to live and no job, things looked dismal. 

Caveh applied to 32 different schools for a teaching position. Fortunately, and as if by fate, Caveh was offered a teaching job in New York. He accepted. He’s been a teacher in New York for four-and-a-half years now, where he lives with his wife and two children. 

“When the job came in from New York, it was a great opportunity. I knew there were a lot of people doing a lot of interesting stuff in New York. It takes a long time to integrate into a city,” he said. “I feel like I’m still in the ‘getting to know New York’ stage. I still feel like a newcomer.” 

He is currently working on a multitude of different projects, but the one he’s most excited for is a feature film he’s working on that documents the relationship Joseph Cornell, an artist, had with a woman named Joyce Hunter. His inspiration came from art he had studied in college. 

“I used to go to the art library in college and look at the pictures,” he said. “I had this idea that if you look at enough beautiful things, it would somehow make you a better artist.”

He went on to say that one day he picked up a Cornell book and he really liked it.

“I became a little obsessed, but he became a big part of my work. I started making collages. (something Cornell was known to do. They were called “Cornell Boxes.”)

At the time, Caveh wasn’t in a place to make the film. But when Caveh was living in Rome some 20 years later, a biography came out on Joseph Cornell. A chapter in the bio.graphy was devoted to the relationship between Joseph and Joyce. 

“I read a story in his book about the relationship he had with this waitress who stole his collages. I remember thinking it would make a great movie.”

That inspiration moved Caveh to action. “I had a day to write and I just said let’s try this out. I wrote 50 pages in a day. It was an unfinished script,” he said. 

He was working on other projects at the time he began writing what would become “The Sky is Blue Like an Orange,” the polished screenplay of the Cornell film. 

“I had just finished my film 'Scharza.' I had a few other ideas, and I pitched my producer an idea about a porn actress, Savanah, who kills herself, and he liked it okay, but he really liked the Cornell film.

Caveh said that he was throwing ideas to his friend Arnold, who was interested in a collaboration. Of all the projects, Arnold liked the Cornell film the most. 

“We just decided to work on it,” Caveh said. “We just started from scratch.” 

Now, Caveh has a finished screenplay and is currently working on pre-production for “The Sky is Blue Like an Orange.” A project I have the pleasure to be a part of. 

Kyle Roberts is TK