Experiencing Interruptions?

Far West

Drained by the fast-paced urban lifestyle, New York City artist Lala makes a bold decision to uproot herself and seek solace in the untamed landscapes somewhere far west. Stripped of the familiar comforts of running water, electricity, and constant connectivity, she faces the daunting challenge of building a life from scratch.

Amidst the solitude of her surroundings, Lala's journey becomes a quest of self-discovery. Devoid of noise and distractions that once clouded her perception, she delves into the depths of her being, unraveling layers of introspection and vulnerability. With each passing day, the vast desert and endless sky mirror the expansiveness of her inner world, leading her closer to an understanding of her true self and the essence of her art.

The film poignantly explores questions that resonate with us all: Can the absence of modern resources illuminate the path to authenticity? Can isolation and introspection pave the way for profound creative breakthroughs?

Her journey through self-imposed isolation challenges viewers to reflect on their own relationships with modernity, nature, and the essence of who they are.

“Far West" is not merely a documentary about survival; it is a deeply moving portrayal of a soul's quest for meaning, a testament to the enduring power of human resilience, and a vivid reminder that sometimes, it is in the quietest moments that our true selves emerge, and our most profound work takes shape.

  • Stephen Michael Simon
    Bacon 'N' Laces, Most Expensivest: Season 2 & 3, Origins of Hip-Hop, The Big Break, Refuge, I'll See You Around, Kygo Feat. Selena Gomez: It Ain't Me
  • Stephen Michael Simon
    Bacon 'N' Laces, Most Expensivest: Season 2 & 3, Origins of Hip-Hop, The Big Break, Refuge, I'll See You Around, Kygo Feat. Selena Gomez: It Ain't Me
  • Lala Abaddon
    Key Cast
  • Alex Mitchell
  • Nabil Moo
  • Ben LeHouillier
    Sound Designer
  • Gary Bardizbanian
    Analog / Digital Intermediate
  • Parris Pierce
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short
  • Runtime:
    17 minutes 45 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    October 1, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    4,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Stephen Michael Simon

Stephen Michael Simon is an award-winning director, cinematographer and editor located in Brooklyn, New York.

In 2009, after graduating from NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Stephen worked for MTV and Nylon Magazine producing video content. In 2014, he transitioned to a successful freelance career.

His debut as a director in the genre of short documentaries, "Bacon ’N’ Laces" (2021), achieved remarkable recognition on the festival circuit, securing over a dozen awards including the prestigious "Best of Fest" at the Lower East Side Film Festival and "Directors’ Choice: Independent Spirit Award" at the Sedona International Film Festival and official selections at over 30 festivals including Big Sky, Mountainfilm and Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Notably, this work was acquired by The New Yorker and given a Vimeo "Staff Pick".

Stephen's editing expertise is equally distinguished. He recently edited a feature documentary centered around a Wu-Tang Clan member, as well as the award-winning TV series "Origins of Hip-Hop," featuring renowned figures like Ice-T and Ja Rule for A+E Networks. His contributions extended to Viceland's third season of "Most Expensivest" with 2 Chainz. One of his notable accomplishments includes editing the feature documentary "Yes I Am: The Story of Ric Weiland" alongside director Aaron Bear, earning them the “Best Documentary” accolade at both the Munich Film Awards and the Dumbo Film Festival in 2021.

Further showcasing his versatility, Stephen collaborated on LensCrafters’ commercials with director Kaz Firpo (writer for Marvel’s “The Eternals”) and cinematographer Adam Newport-Berra (HBO’s “Euphoria”) at Ridley Scott’s agency RSA. He also left his mark on Broadway’s “West Side Story” revival campaign with Scott Rudin.

Stephen’s impact is also felt in the realm of short films, crafting the short narrative, “Love, Sick” (2022) under Emmy-award winner Chris Klimovski and “The Big Break”, featuring David Arquette and Thomas Cocquerel, premiering on Vice in 2018. His insightful short documentary "Refuge" (2016) garnered significant recognition, being officially selected at 19 film festivals and earning the coveted "Best Documentary Short" award at prestigious events like the Oxford Film Festival, the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival, and the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. It also secured the "Humanitarian Outstanding Achievement Award" at IndieFest in 2017.

Among his other editing accomplishments is the VMA-nominated "It Ain't Me" music video for Selena Gomez ft. Kygo. Notably, Stephen also edited the hilarious web series "Janice & Jeffrey" for IFC.com, and his editing prowess contributed to the award-winning feature documentary "Finding Kim" in 2016.

Stephen’s cinematography prowess is evident in works like the feature documentary "Brainiac," which premiered at SXSW 2019 and received a nationwide theatrical release, as well as the short horror film "Rick & Ruby” (2019) featured internationally at prestigious festivals including the Sitges Film Festival. Notable collaborations include country-wide commercial projects for Dell and a digital commercial for Grammy-winning group Sugarland.

Outside of editing and cinematography, Stephen also directed music videos for artists including Mosss, Blaketheman1000, Frost Children, B.Miles, Wilsen, ADI and Gracie & Rachel.
Currently, Stephen is gearing up for a range of exciting projects, including the premiere of his second directed short documentary, "Far West," editing the feature narrative “Kuzeny" with director Alfred Padilla and short narratives “Crooks" with director Josh Greenwood and “Liminal” with director Kevin Vincenti. He is also contributing to a feature documentary exploring the prison system, in partnership with director Aaron Bear.

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Director Statement

A decade ago, in downtown Brooklyn, fate led me to Lala—a burgeoning artist with neon hair, her creativity as vivid as her spirit. She attended a party I was throwing and we immediately hit it off. I became an admirer of her early artworks, and our connection endured, sustained by social media.

Little did I know that a decade later, our paths would intertwine once again, against the backdrop of an unfolding global pandemic in the middle of the desert. As Covid swept across the globe, I was mid-stride into a solitary road trip across the Southwest of the United States, only to find myself at an impasse as the world came screeching to a halt.

With nowhere to anchor and only my rental car as a companion, I reached out to my one beacon of hope—Lala, the only soul I knew out west. Her response was both gracious and peculiar: an invitation to stay on her land, but under the stipulation that I bring and stay in a tent. A seemingly reasonable precaution given the pandemic's shadow, or so I thought.

Upon arrival, I discovered that Lala herself had embraced a tented existence—a modern-day settler carving out her homestead in the vast expanse of the desert. The creature comforts of modernity had been left behind, replaced by a stripped-down existence devoid of running water, electricity, and the digital thrum of city life. Here, amidst nature's raw attributes, Lala thrived. Her mind was at ease and spirit balanced.

In the span of a week, I grew intimately acquainted with Lala's daily rhythms—a stark contrast to the urban cadence we had both once known and experienced on the daily. Her perspective on life was a revelation, a testimony to the liberation found in embracing simplicity. The weight of city anxieties and pressures was shed, replaced by a tranquility that resonated deeply within me.

Lala's meditative existence became an unexpected inspiration, prompting a personal quest for therapeutic renewal. As I ventured into practices of mindfulness, reduced screen time, and reflective journaling, I realized the profound wisdom inherent in her lifestyle. It was an impetus that spurred me to explore this unique journey in this piece, “Far West”, aiming to capture the transformative power of a life unburdened by excess, and the potent connection forged between person and the untamed beauty of the desert.