Soyboy

Assal Ghawami

1) How did you get into directing? 
As a child I wanted to become either an actress, an astronaut or a surgeon. Directing somehow seemed to be the perfect synthesis of all those jobs.
 
2) What is your most recent project? 
I just produced and directed a web series The Whitlock Academy for Isiah Whitlock Jr. and the Levity Department and finished a music video for the Canadian singer Chantel Damara of ‘Lavachild’.
 
3) What is the best part of being a director? 
Looking at a subject from different angles, literally and figuratively speaking.
 
4) What is the worst part of being a director?
I feel really lucky to do what I’m doing and think it’s quite a privilege to work in entertainment for a living.
 
5) What is your current career focus: commercials & branded content, TV, movies? Do you plan to specialize in a particular genre—comedy, drama, visual effects, etc.? 
I’d like to focus on commercials and branded content to improve my directing muscles. I enjoy the fast turn around and want to do a ton more of it! For my thesis at NYU I’m developing my first feature film and a TV pilot for a show I’ve written.
 
6) Have you a mentor and if so, who is that person (or persons) and what has been the lesson learned from that mentoring which resonates with you? 
Clearly the Graduate Film Program at Tisch with all the excellent teachers and talented classmates has been offering a huge pool of the traditional type of mentors: Peggy Rajski, John Tintori, Barbara Schock, Tony Janelli, Mick Casale, Ken Friedman, Alex Rockwell, Spike Lee—only to mention a few of them. But I find new mentors in life every day.
 
7) Who is your favorite director and why? 
Every director, who hangs in there, enjoys the act of creation and isn’t thrown into despair by set backs and financial instability.
 
I don’t care about fancy shots and SFX as long as I can see a real intention and a personal, original angle.
That applies to most of my classmates and also to some of my favorite ‘famous’ directors: Cate Shortland, Jane Campion, Michel Gondry, Fellini, Danny Boyle.
 
8) What is your favorite movie? Your favorite commercial or branded content?
La Vie en Rose, La Dolce Vita, Walk Hard, Children of Paradise, A Separation, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Trainspotting, The Babadook, and many more.
 
9) Tell us about your background (i.e. where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
I was born in Teheran, Iran, grew up in Germany’s coal and steel town in Essen and moved to New York seven years ago to make movies. When I take photographs I see a recurring pattern: I look for structures, lines, architecture that remind me of my hometown in Germany. When I photograph people I’d like to look at them really closely. I think that’s a very Persian attitude.