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Filmmaker Armin Nasseri: “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started”

I started my career as an actor and I was hand picked by the director to portray a resident in the movie Nights in Rodanthe, starring Richard Gere and Diane Lane. During production, I was dressed in a scrub outfit along with my group as we waited in the holding area. We were never handed […]


I started my career as an actor and I was hand picked by the director to portray a resident in the movie Nights in Rodanthe, starring Richard Gere and Diane Lane. During production, I was dressed in a scrub outfit along with my group as we waited in the holding area. We were never handed a script for our scene and we had no clue what was going to happen. They called us into the set. We did a blocking rehearsal, where we all walked out of a room and into the hospital hallway before entering another room. The director was ready to shoot the scene, so we all went back to our places and then Richard Gere shows up and stands in front of us. The camera is rolling. The director yells “Action!” We’re pacing the hallway. Richard Gere delivers his line to us and ends with a question. There was a pause. We were disoriented and stumbled over our words on the first take. The director yells “Cut!” Richard Gere breaks out of his character and jokingly says, “You guys are a dumb staff.” We all laughed. A lesson to learn is that directors should give directions and the actors need to be prepared.


I had the pleasure to interview Armin Nasseri. Armin is an American born, Persian-American filmmaker. His last film Seeking Valentina, garnered world wide acclaim, winning nearly 20 awards at film festivals all over the world. His new film, The Carting Call, is currently available for viewing on BitMovio.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Armin Nasseri: First, I want to thank my family for introducing me to visual arts at a very young age.

I love stories, whether if it’s words on a page, or performers re-enacting a scene on both stage and screen. I was a first generation Persian-American growing up in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Even though, I loved art, I wanted to be a basketball player when I was a pre-teen. I never thought I wanted to make movies, until my late teens, when I started watching movies by auteur directors such as Martin Scorsese, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick and Sidney Lumet. During the early 2000’s, one of my childhood friends showed me a short film that he acted in. The short film was directed by Ramin Bahrani, who went on to direct Chop Shop and 99 Homes. I met Ramin Bahrani when I was 8 years old. He was an old friend of my older brother from their high school days. The fact that someone from my own hometown that looked like me, was making movies and having passion behind it, really inspired me to pursue a career in filmmaking. I have done almost everything you can imagine on a film set from storyboard images to editing and everything in between. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with Steven Caple, Jr. a few times and look at his successes as a template for my career. I’m very humbled that my films have appeared in festivals all over the world. I’m currently looking forward to my next project, A Different Class.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

Armin Nasseri: I’ve been blessed to meet many of my heroes and they have shared many great stories with me. One that comes to mind is composer Alan Howarth (Escape From New York, Big Trouble in Little China) sharing his story about how he rented the great pyramid of Egypt.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Armin Nasseri: I started my career as an actor and I was hand picked by the director to portray a resident in the movie Nights in Rodanthe, starring Richard Gere and Diane Lane. During production, I was dressed in a scrub outfit along with my group as we waited in the holding area. We were never handed a script for our scene and we had no clue what was going to happen. They called us into the set. We did a blocking rehearsal, where we all walked out of a room and into the hospital hallway before entering another room. The director was ready to shoot the scene, so we all went back to our places and then Richard Gere shows up and stands in front of us. The camera is rolling. The director yells “Action!” We’re pacing the hallway. Richard Gere delivers his line to us and ends with a question. There was a pause. We were disoriented and stumbled over our words on the first take. The director yells “Cut!” Richard Gere breaks out of his character and jokingly says, “You guys are a dumb staff.” We all laughed. A lesson to learn is that directors should give directions and the actors need to be prepared.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

Armin Nasseri: I just finished a short thriller called The Carting Call. It’s available to watch if you subscribe to BitMovio, which is an online entertainment platform. I’m currently working on a coming-of-age drama called A Different Class and we are also filming a documentary about a talented contemporary painter titled George Hobbs: Stick Figure Wisdom.

Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

Armin Nasseri: Some of the people that I have interacted with were Michael Rooker, Sally Kirkland, Dee Wallace, Paul Rudd and Brenda Vaccaro. They all seem larger than life on screen, but in real life, they are just people like the rest of us. Speaking of Michael Rooker, I had the pleasure of working with him early in my career when I was a stand-in. He started a conversation with me at lunch and told me that his first job was a stand-in. When you hear that from an actor, who is now part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, only shows that you have to just hang in there and not give up.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Armin Nasseri: You have to keep a balance. Try to focus on living life and not getting caught up with rejection.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Armin Nasseri: The stories that I’m interested in, are stories that relate with everyone. Showing how we are all alike regardless of ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or gender.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  • I didn’t know that the film industry was so political. We are led to believe that it a meritocracy.
  • No one told us that show business really is a business. That marketing is just as important as honing your craft. If not, more so.
  • Sometimes directing is a thankless job. When the final product is shown, the audience only sees what’s on the screen and not what went into making it.
  • No one told me how long it was going to take to make a film. From start to finish, filmmaking can take a year or more.
  • There’s a big difference between stage acting and screen acting. Actors who are trained in theater, often have a hard time adjusting to film acting and vice versa.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Armin Nasseri: Here’s a quote. “I reward loyalty with loyalty. I reward disloyalty with distance.”

This quote reminds me that just because people are with you, doesn’t mean they’re for you.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Armin Nasseri: My family has been very supportive of my career from the beginning. My mother encouraged me to read books, which helped me appreciate great storytelling. My father introduced me to painting and art appreciation. My brothers introduced me to movies that are considered classics today.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂

Armin Nasseri: I would love to have breakfast with Phil Jackson. Maybe get my hands on his playbook. Not only is he one of the greatest NBA coaches of all time, but he knows how to get people to work together as a team, despite personality differences.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Armin Nasseri: You can follow me on Instagram @arminnasseri and I am also on Facebook @arminnasserifilmmaker

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!

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