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Meet Favienne Howsepian

Today we’d like to introduce you to Favienne Howsepian.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I was born and raised in Northern California with two older brothers to two immigrant parents. My father is French Armenian, and he and his parents left Paris when he was only three years old (on one of the last trips through Ellis Island on the Queen Mary!) and grew up in New York City. My mother was born and raised in Holland and moved to the US after she met and fell in love with my father.

My interest for filmmaking started at a very young age. Around eight years old or so, I discovered my parents’ hi8 camera and I couldn’t keep my hands off of it. I was constantly creating anything I could, from a remake of The Shining to original (and obviously very deep) stories about the cool kids and the uncool kids hanging poolside. At one point, I discovered a very rudimentary editing program on my parent’s computer, and I started to import footage and instantly fell in love with editing. I would sit and edit for hours, to the point where I skipped one Halloween because I was so engrossed in the editing for a particular project. This all was just fun for me at this time, and it wasn’t until I had to start thinking about applying for college that I realized this could be a real career.

I went to San Francisco State University with the intention of studying editing within their cinema program. Three years into my college experience, I purchased a DSLR and quickly became enamored with cinematography. Before, I just saw the cinematography of a project to be a means to an end; get these shots so I can edit them together this way. But once I started shooting more with my DSLR, I realized the full potential of cinematography, and how it is what makes filmmaking unique to all other mediums. The cinematography is what gives the audience a view into the world, and that view affects everything that the audience experiences. I was instantly in love and started to shift my focus away from editing and into cinematography. I had no idea at that time that while I thought I was only one in my family that had gone into the arts, my paternal grandfather had been a photographer and worked at Kodak majority of his life, and his father, my great grandfather, was the official photographer of the Shah of Iran before the revolution. I have also since found many film negatives and prints that my father had taken, all of which are absolutely beautiful. I had no idea imagery was in my blood.

Once I graduated from undergrad in 2013, I was lucky to secure a part-time camera operating job at an online web broadcasting studio called CreativeLIVE, which allowed me to hone my operating skills and provided enough income that I could take on any project as a DP, even if it was unpaid. As this year progressed along with my cinematography skills, I was inspired to apply to the AFI Conservatory. My time at AFI was absolutely life-changing, as I threw myself into the deep end and soaked up all the information I could possibly get from that education and my fellow students. After graduating from AFI in 2016, I received the ASC Student Heritage Award for my cinematography on my thesis film, Snowplow. Since graduating, I have taken on many projects, from commercials to feature films, bringing different worlds to the screen, and loving every moment of it.

Please tell us about your art.
I am a cinematographer for film, TV, and commercials. For those who do not know, a cinematographer (also often referred to as a Director of Photography // DP) is the head of the camera and lighting departments, and this individual collaborates with the director and other department heads to help realize the overall vision of the film. What I love so much about this is that this is what makes filmmaking unique. The way the lens bends the light onto either a film or digital image plane which captures individual images and strings them together to create fluid movement is what makes this art what it is. It is what introduces an audience to a world, brings them through that world, either distracts or points them towards a particular element, and the moments we can take with characters in whatever situation they may be in is absolutely intoxicating. The energy, excitement, and creativity that is involved in being a cinematographer is something I crave every day. I love bringing stories and worlds into people’s homes — worlds they could never get ahold of otherwise. Especially in this day and age where we feel so separated from everyone around us, I believe bringing people together through cinema is incredibly important.

Because of this, I desire to tell all types of stories, through different genres, viewpoints, colors, etc. I want the audience to be able to connect with the characters and subject matter, falling into the world of the film and allowing them to be fully immersed in the universe that we created.

There is a profound impact on the way a cinematographer chooses to light and compose an image and how those images connect. And while a lot of our job is to help direct our audiences attention and experience, I think its incredibly important for an artist, even in a field like filmmaking, to understand that each audience member will bring their own background and baggage to a viewing experience, and will be both excited and triggered by vastly different elements than any other audience member. I strive to create worlds that people can connect to in different and exciting ways.

Choosing a creative or artistic path comes with many financial challenges. Any advice for those struggling to focus on their artwork due to financial concerns?
Jumping into a career in the arts is absolutely terrifying from a financial standpoint. The main key to success, if you are struggling, is to keep active and constantly seek out work. Do not get discouraged as you start out by lack of work. Continue to be hungry and seek out those who will help you succeed. I often remind myself that while I could have more stability in a 9 to 5, I would never have the highs I experience when working on something I am truly passionate about. Every person’s path is different, so don’t compare yourself to others and their rate of success.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
A lot of my work can be found online at www.FavienneHowsepian.com, but I am very excited to announce that the first feature film that I ever shot, entitled I Wrote This For You, will be screening at the Dances with Films festival in Los Angeles on June 14th.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:

Nina Ham, Julianna Tann

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