7 10 2009



A jogger’s life is forever changed after he discovers a woman left for dead on a hillside. Or is it she who discovers him?


1. Tell us a little about yourself and where you have lived, highlighting any major cultural identities that define, influence or challenge you in your life.

Born and raised in Glendale, California, I am an Armenian-American in the truest sense; both cultures have indelibly informed who I am and will be.  Armenians are passionate people who live in bold and boisterous ways.  Though my films tend to be reflective, they have deep energetic undertones rooted in my Armenian ancestry.  As an American, I am optimistic and confident about the future, two qualities which often manifest themselves in my films.

2. How did you come to be a filmmaker, and where/how did you learn the “craft” of filmmaking?

Though I made movies as a youth on my uncle’s giant VHS camcorder, I never had the notion of actually becoming a filmmaker since I didn’t know it was an actual career.  Therefore, my first concrete step toward a film career was through acting in college.  I majoring in drama at University of California, Santa Cruz, where I learned the fundamentals of acting and performed in numerous productions.   About that time, I also began taking still photographs with an old manual Pentax camera.  I learned the fundamentals of photography and even set-up a darkroom at my house.  But I wanted to tell stories in a more dynamic way, so I purchased a video camera and began making short films on my own.  Too broke to attend film school, I simply purchased books on filmmaking technique and theory and listened to DVD commentaries.  So, over the last 5 years or so, I’ve learned the craft of filmmaking simply by doing.

3. What prompted the idea for your film and how did it evolve?

As with all my scripts, First Light started on notebook paper: I brainstorm and jot down ideas, envisioning different people and scenarios.  In the case of First Light, I “saw” a girl left for dead on a hillside.  Then, I imagined a jogger who discovers her.  What happened to her?  What would the jogger do?  Continuing the brainstorming process, I developed different scenarios, which eventually lead to the outline for the script.  However, prior to typing one word, I developed both characters at length, who they were, where they come from, etc..  Only then do I begin writing the script.

4. What is your single favorite line from your film?

The final line, which I dare not reveal!

5. What movies would you say have transformed or changed the way you see the world?

Most films by Michelangelo Antonioni, Robert Bresson, Yasujiro Ozu and Ingmar Bergman.  Their films are visually based on reality, but are ultimately about the invisible world of relationships, the soul and enigma.  They challenge you to pay attention and leave you wondering and questioning presumptions about life.  They haunt you for days.  More contemporary films that have inspired me are Birth by Jonathan Glazer and Elephant by Gus Van Sant.  Again, these are visually beautiful films infused with enigma.



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