The guiltless and forgiving ages of youth marked the inappropriate viewing of Quentin Tarantino’s notorious film, Pulp Fiction. Most who viewed the film were adults, but, many were teenagers, and some even children upon its release in 1994. I watched Michael Mann’s masterpiece, Heat, prematurely, and it mesmerized my ten-year old mind. I was twelve-years old was when I perceived Christopher Nolan’s Memento as mind-boggling and Brian de Palma’s Scarface as disturbingly enjoyable. These four films, in conjunction with my personal beloved masterpiece of cinema – Robert Zemeckis’ marvelously directed Back to the Future – would be sufficient for me to fall in love with movies, as well as inadvertently tarnish my childhood. Growing up in an immigrant household as a first generation Iranian/American with Armenian roots, my older brother and I had the liberty to view any film we thrilled, with or without our parents’ discretion. I explored the filmographies of Ridley and Tony Scott, as well as Quentin Tarantino, to the point of obsessive analyzation. Perceiving feature films lead to a remarkable passion in deciphering how they were made. The craft of screenwriting enthralled me at a premature period, leading to the inevitable fate of confronting myself to write my own script as an exercise at age thirteen, based on the mere memory of a favored film entitled Judgment Night, written by Lewis Colick and directed by Stephen Hopkins. I was captivated with storytelling and attempted to write a novice manuscript, followed by a novice screenplay about a man with a distorted conscience. This obsession with storytelling and going to the movies ignited within my soul what I thought was my calling on earth; to become a film director. I was blessed to discover an incredible interest early in life. It was then when I knew I had to do everything in my power to get into an accredited film school and move to Los Angeles.
In 2004, I evaded the night of my high-school senior prom and fibbed my friends. The thought of pinning a corsage of sprayed flowers upon the upper part of a woman’s dress seemed heavenly. To wear a tuxedo and feel like James Bond was equally desirable, nonetheless, the confidence could not be mustered up and the affordability of the whole shebang was impossible due to mere finances unavailable in my household. Although, there were funds available for something else. There was no place I would rather be then at the movies on that pre-summer, milestone of a night. While teenaged boys and girls danced the night away like royalty, enjoying limo rides and kisses, I indulged myself in a customized double-feature at the movie theater commencing with Tony Scott’s Man on Fire followed by Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill Vol. 2. Shortly after that night, I was off to film school at Long Beach State; if it was good enough for Steven Spielberg’s attendance as a film student, then it was good enough for me. I emphasized my studies in creative film producing, and, for my thesis, I solely produced a short film about a thief who steals more than his conscience can bare. The film was exalted above the others in our program and the faculty recognized it with praise. Nevertheless, upon completion of my studies at Long Beach State, something occurred within me; not only did I stop watching films, my life-long passion for storytelling and filmmaking faded at the prime age of twenty-three. Perhaps, naturally so, considering the quadrant of demographics the film studios in Hollywood cater to are predominantly males aged 14-24. People ask me, “Why did you fall in and out of love with movies?” The answer is, “I turned twenty-four.”
I thought that my burning desire for storytelling and filmmaking techniques which sprang from my youth had climaxed for the interim. At Long Beach State, the obsessive examination of different frame rates in terms of cinematography as well as the limitless possibilities of overlaying audio and sound with hopes of producing kinetic filmmaking overtook the mere joy of sitting down to watch a film like a regular moviegoer. Filmmakers, by nature or habit, are conditioned to call attention to the minutiae. The suspense Director M. Night Shyamalan (Glass) once mentioned that when he watches television, he complains why a director chose, or, a cinematographer used, a specific lens for a shot. He must be irritated by how he notices such things. Experimentation with black and white juxtaposed with color, and, digital versus 16mm film, was an aspect of film school I became heavily accustomed to. The aesthetics, as well as the visual effects of digital versus film would convey a compelling difference upon arriving at the post-production phase of the filmmaking process. These areas of film engaged me, due to the electric internal feeling it would expel: the musical score in conjunction with sound design, combined with lush cinematography, kinetic editing and through directing exquisite performances of actors reciting highly intellectual dialogue in hopes of creating a masterpiece.
Throughout my youth and adulthood, I was heavily influenced by the films of Martin Scorsese, Brian de Palma, Ridley Scott and Robert Zemeckis. The experimental filmmaking techniques of the late Tony Scott, such as Spy Game, Man on Fire and his classic masterpieces like Revenge and Days of Thunder, were films that influenced me aesthetically. Tony Scott explored the depths audio production and sound design overlapping incredibly low frame rates resulting in kinetic filmmaking and lush visual style. The films of Michael Mann have always moved me. His masterpieces Heat, Ali, The Insider, as well as his digital filmmaking experimentation in Miami Vice, were films that further validated my burning desire to direct films. Michael Mann spent seven years at the London Film School pursuing a graduates degree, becoming a master at his craft. It is said often, that, it’s difficult to pursue your passion and a tragedy not to.
Prior to dedicating his life to cinema, film director Martin Scorsese’s passion was becoming a priest. Though he never followed through, it did result in two passion projects that explored religious themes with The Last Temptation of Christ and Silence which laid a profound affect upon the psyche of the world in terms of how a portrait of God’s prophets and messengers are displayed on the silver screen thus painting an image that may or not be to one’s liking. God in cinema with themes related to divinity, mysticism and religion are remarkable, nonetheless, similar to Mel Gibson’s depiction in The Passion of the Christ. Those who are lovers of film, with deeply embedded passions for American film genres, should never cease of their desire to consume these pictures. If one’s desires are coated with layers for an interim while performing more significant matters in pursuit of the supernatural deity that has been portrayed in the motion pictures aforementioned, they’ll begin to explore, from their own perspective, what these cinematic masterpieces attempted to explore: comprehending the universe.