People Smuggler

Set & Costume Designer: Arash Baghipour
Director: Amirreza Jalalian
Director of Photography: Masoud Amini Tirani

A rugged old man, living in a border town surrounded by dense forest, earns a living by misleading migrants and directing them into heavily guarded paths. While smuggling a young couple, and to the detriment of his own business, the man takes a protective interest in the woman and tries to divert her from the inevitable death trap.

Selecting the forest as the primary location for the people smuggler would help the story logic a lot. At the same time, it was better to set another place with a different atmosphere such mountains for the film’s beginning. This way, the narrative development could accord with spatial expansion. According to the screenplay, the forest could get a spectacular identity: Being both near the border on one hand, and looking scary and foggy on the other hand.
The main challenge in the People Smuggler scenography—considering the decoupage—was the fact that the protagonist (old man) was pretty much always in the foreground of the shots, so the audience would recognize it as an over-the-shoulder shot, seeing through his point of view. As a result, actualizing him needed to thoroughly design his makeup, clothes, car, etc., in a way that is in harmony with the location and a perfect presentation of his lifestyle.
The old man’s clothes, his car, and the way he typically uses hay to hide people in the vehicle were meant to strengthen the idea of him being rugged and mysterious. He needed to appear in harmony with the surrounding environment. In contrast, the couple needed to seem like strangers who don’t belong here, so we used distinct vivid colors for their clothing, considering their personality and social class.