Today we’d like to introduce you to Ara Soudjian.
Ara, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I grew up in Los Angeles, to a Mexican Mother and Armenian Father. My Mom was an aspiring actress who would do plays at the Nosotros Theatre in Hollywood. My father was a rug salesman who bought one of the very first VHA camcorders in the early 80’s. He would document everything. I guess it was natural for me to merge both hobbies and become a filmmaker.
I studied film production at CSUN, and upon graduation started PA-ing on various movies like “The Time Machine”, “13 going on 30”, George Clooney’s directorial debut “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind”, and the Coen Bros “Intolerable Cruelty”. While working on those films, I started a small side hustle my doing commercials for local businesses, schools, politicians, and nonprofits. While working on the “Ring 2”, I was offered to produce and direct various spots for Rock the Vote. I was a PA by day and a full-on production company by night. We ended up making commercial spots for Paul Van Dyk, Joss Stone, Lindsay Lohan, Black Eyed Peas, Diddy, Kinky, etc. I decided to quit my PA job and become a freelance filmmaker/production company in 2004.
Soon after, I was producing/directing unscripted TV pilots around town and got into the music video scene w/ labels and artists like WB Records, Sony Records, Serj Tankian (System of a Down), Tom Morello (Rage against the machine), and Wiz Khalifa.
In 2011, I officially started Friendly Filmworks with my wife, Garinee.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I’m an optimist, so I like to say that the road was “semi-smooth,” but there were a lot of bumps along the journey. Being a creative is not easy. Sometimes, I would have people chuckle at my face when they asked me what I did for a living. No one really takes being a filmmaker seriously. The challenge for me was to try and make a living doing the thing I loved…which was telling stories visually.
Sure, there were many sleepless nights. There are nights today, where I’m thinking about when the next job will be coming, but the key to success is always believing in yourself and believing that you are always three steps away from hitting gold.
I always tell other filmmakers to work hard and do the best job they can…and the next job will always come.
Friendly Filmworks – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Friendly Filmworks is a full-service production company based in LA. We’ve produced videos/ commercials for brands of all sizes, from major record labels to Silicon Valley startups to government agencies. And since our crews are lean and efficient, we can film anywhere in the world. To date, our crews have crafted visual stories for…
Two mayors of Los Angeles
Award-winning recording artists (from Dua Lipa, Lil Wayne, Dianna Ross)
Two major LA sports teams (Dodgers and LAFC)
Major network pilot episodes
Groundbreaking tech startups (Motiv and Adonit)
International fashion labels
America’s largest transportation agency (LA Metro)
Major charities helping millions
Our clients and freelance crew members love working with us because we don’t take ourselves too seriously and want our shoots and projects to be FUN. Why else become a creative if you are not having fun. We’re a family run business…my brother ACRS, who’s a talented director, is on our team. What I’m most proud of is our diversity. We work with good people…hard working people, and most recently when we were working with Nike, a rep of theirs was so impressed w/ our team’s diversity. We have some talented woman filmmakers on our team.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success can be defined in various ways. Success is waking up to a roof over your head every morning. In terms of career success…It’s waking up every morning and doing what you want to do. It’s tricky being a creative. Some days I feel successful running my own production company and working with some cool clients, but other days, I wake up depressed and feeling down on myself because I didn’t book the next big commercial spot.
You need a good circle of friends, collaborators to reel you back in, and bring some perspective. Now there will be times where you will be working on a project that’s not exciting, but the secret is to work hard on that project and treat it respectfully, By doing your best, luck will come on your side, and some cool creative projects will come your way.
So to be successful, you need to work hard, do the very best job possible, be optimistic, and good things will come your way.
- Website: friendlyfilmworks.com
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @arasoudjian @friendlyfilmworks
Photos by Reel Light Pictures, Armen Keleshian