Sam Logan Khaleghi says he grew up in a family of math and science "geniuses," many of whom are doctors and engineers.
So what happened when the former Mount Prospect resident decided to become a filmmaker?
"Let's just say that it made for a very interesting conversation at the table during Thanksgiving dinner," he said. "It took a while for everyone to consider this legitimate, you know?"
His latest project should help. His feature film "Approaching Midnight" will be shown starting at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Wilmette Theatre where Khaleghi watched many art films during his student years.
Khaleghi wrote the screenplay, directed the movie and stars as Staff Sgt. Wesley Kent, an Afghanistan War vet who returns home to discover terrible changes have occurred since he left.
"I enjoy making military movies," he said. "I'm a fairly patriotic person and I've always loved military movies. I've always been fascinated with our servicemen because of what they do for this country and the challenges they've gone through."
"Approaching Midnight" cost less than $1 million.
"That's pennies for a Hollywood production," Khaleghi said. "My movie was shot on a budget of passion."
Khaleghi, now 29, was born in Iran and brought up in Detroit the son of immigrants from Iran's post-revolutionary period. Many of Khaleghi's relatives settled in Crystal Lake.
When Khaleghi worked on his master's of science degree at Northwestern University, he shuffled between homes in Evanston and Mount Prospect.
His earlier film short "Prison Boat" earned an Emmy nomination. He has appeared in several television productions as an actor.
Strangely enough, Khaleghi never attended film school.
What's up with that?
"Actually, my academic experiences in management and international business and international relations are more applicable to my career as a filmmaker than had I just attended film school," he said.
"In these past few weeks, I've been doing international sales in regard to another movie we have in the works," he said. "Using studies in international marketing is just as important to a filmmaker trying to get their films out.
"We live in a global market. What plays in Peoria won't necessarily play elsewhere."
Wait. Khaleghi doesn't want anyone to think he's only about the marketing.
"I want to preserve the artistic integrity of any story I tell, like everyone else," he said. "But you'll notice that many movies nowadays diversify with different story elements or casting choices so the movie will have appeal for a global audience. We're more connected than you think."
Speaking of connections, Midwesterners have strong ones, Khaleghi said. These days, he calls Detroit his home.
"When you're from a big city like Chicago or Detroit, you're constantly struggling to make it," he said. "When you leave for the coast, be it L.A. or New York, you're constantly meeting people who aren't necessarily products of that struggle. Does that make sense?"
Uh, help us out here.
"My friends from L.A., already into their 30s and 40s, want to go nightclubs at 3 in the morning. Hey! I've got a movie to finish here. People from the Midwest are the product of a greater struggle. We really are trying very hard to live our lives in a clean and, as one of my friends puts it, 'kosher' manner."
* Dann Gire and Jamie Sotonoff are always looking for people from the suburbs who are now working in showbiz. If you know of someone who would make an interesting column, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
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