The opportunity to make debut feature Locked In came to Nour Wazzi while she was on holiday. “I prepped it on the beach, pitched it on Monday morning, and got the job by Monday evening,” recalls the UK-Lebanese director of the psychological thriller, which shot from late 2022 and will launch on Netflix this autumn.

Starring 2019 Screen Star of Tomorrow Rose Williams and Famke Janssen, Locked In sees a newlywed fall out with her damaged mother-in-law. The thriller aspect made a perfect fit for Wazzi, who is proud to call herself a genre filmmaker. “Genre has felt like a dirty word for a long time,” she says. “I want to direct content that explores the possibilities of our existence in entertaining ways, through a genre lens.”

Born in Beirut during the Lebanese civil war, Wazzi has lived and worked in the UK for more than 20 years. After a media and communications degree at Goldsmiths, University of London that focused on screenwriting, she learned the filmmaking ropes on an “intense, physical” four-month course at New York Film Academy. “You got to make a movie a week, and work on other people’s films,” recalls Wazzi. “It wasn’t theoretical, it was very practical.”

While on that course she made her first short, 2008’s Wake Up. She has followed it with seven further shorts, including 2010’s Film London-backed Habibti, and 2013’s Up On The Roof starring Maisie Williams. Wazzi “found her voice” through 2017’s Baby Mine, about a woman who recruits a neighbour to track down her volatile Middle Eastern husband, who has kidnapped their child. “It came from a personal place, playing with stereo­types, particularly against Middle Eastern characters,” says the director. In 2022, she helmed two episodes of Netflix sci-fi series The Last Bus, where it was “rewarding” to reunite with several crew members who she had shadowed while training.

Wazzi is working on Chimera with established producers Mary Jane Skalski and Hans Ritter — a psychological thriller in which a woman notices a strangeness in her new town; an unnamed sci-fi thriller with a Lebanese protagonist; and two thrillers with her husband Daniel Fajemisin-Duncan (Channel 4’s Run).

Having “grafted” to get to this point, Wazzi savours her new experiences. “You do the work in prep, then you enjoy the ride,” she says. “Let people feed off that energy.”

Contact: Sarah Williams, Independent Talent Group