My true inspiration is to RISK falling flat on my face!
Interview by: Leda Omran, an AWF Editorial Staff

Malika Sabirova: A Struggle to Spread the Music!

An Interview with Vahé Mansourian, American Filmmaker, Painter and writer

AWF:   You are categorized as a world-class fine art painter. How does this statement coincide with you and what you feel about your paintings?

Vahé: My inner critic has always been truthful to me. It says you are artist only when people consider you an artist. However, you and handful of other people who categorize me a world-class artist is truly inspiring. No matter what I paint, I am always painting myself. I consider myself a very simple man and my paintings reflect stories of my life.

• AWF: Your paintings are very abstract. Do your paintings reflect your personal being, emotions and feelings?

Vahé: Frankly, it is impossible for me to articulate what my style is. It started realism and then took 15 years to dissolve into surrealism and now it seems is headed toward more of me. One thing I know for sure, I try to portray my adventures, failures, relationships, misfortunes, hardships, love and happiness.

AWFWho are your inspirations?

Vahé: If I want really to create anything, my true inspiration is to RISK falling flat on my face. Almost everything requires some risk taking. My surrounding, people I know and meet are risks and they become inspirations as long as I stay positive, listen attentively and observe objectively. I also get inspired not from all, but some of my own creations: films, music, lyrics, paintings, photographs, graphic designs and deal making. Nevertheless, I feel I am really inspired, “living”, when I am making a film.

AWF:  What is your surrounding position when you are painting?

Vahé: I do not have a particular place or time of day to paint, draw or write. I paint in my car, on the roof of a building, alley, bedroom and kitchen, backyard and front yard, in my office and in an auditorium full of people with loudspeakers blasting obnoxiously.

• AWF: Are you a thinker or a creative painter, meaning, do you think about what you want to paint/draw, or do you pick up a brush and paint what you feel?

Vahé: A vision, a thought or an image forms in my mind then I become a thinker, a planner and a mathematician. And if this image/thought is urgent and risky enough, it transforms itself into a painting, melody, lyrics, characters and plots. Although an artwork is never finished, sometimes I am very surprised of my endings, which is very inspiring to me.

AWF: What is the symbolism you trying to portray in your paintings?

Vahé: Everything is symbolism. I do not care much about symbols as I paint but in contrary I use them sporadically when I direct a film.

• AWF: Do you only paint with oil or do you use other facilities?

 Vahé: Majority of my paintings are oil on canvas, however, I also use acrylic, water-color, and have done hundreds of ink and magic-marker drawings and renderings on variety of materials using brush, knife, nail, twig as well as my fingers and nose.

• AWF: Do you see an effect of your paintings reflected upon your photography and designs?

Vahé: Painting is the center of my all other creations. I rely on this center heavily when I am creating photographs, music, characters, lyrics, set designs and lighting as well as casting actors for my films.

• AWF: It states that you are considered as an emerging international artist. Do you think that your style is mass appealing?

Vahé: Everybody has a style, “a voice”, whether or not he is an artist. A style cannot be created. I never paint to please anybody unless I am hired to create commercial art for business purposes, such as restaurant menus, signs, logos, movie posters, book/CD/DVD covers…

• AWF: You are the founder and CEO of Lucine Distribution. On your website it ventilates that Lucine Distribution's vision and goal is to brighten the world through inspiring images. How does it (in your opinion) accomplish this vision/goal?

Vahé: Exactly what it says: through inspiring images. That is creating paintings, music, movies, characters, colors …

• AWF: From what moment did you find the urge to put down the brush and pick up the camera?

Vahé: My brush and camera have been complementing each other since day one. In fact, I started to make 8mm films when I was 10 years old and have sold my paintings when I was 14. There have been some interruptions but they co-exist side-by-side in harmony.

• AWF: Many say painting and films are very similar apart from painting being still images and films being moving images. Do your films allow you to bring your paintings to life or are they other means for you to express what you cannot show/express in painting?

Vahé: Both painting and film can be employed to express the same concept. Among many other things, both mediums are equally capable of inspiring, enlightening, entertaining, showing truth and touching people's soul. A painter has a single frame and limited techniques to play with, where as a filmmaker has far more techniques to play with but next to impossible to get it made—financed.

• AWF: Can you speak a little about your upcoming productions, "Goodnight Gorgeous", "The Tour" and most waited for "On The Edge"?

Vahé: There are three things that I look for restlessly forever: original scripts, talented artists and deep-pocket investors. I read an average of two scripts a week. Realizing good scripts are hard to come by, I began to write and develop these films ten years ago, which they are completely different from each other. “Goodnight Gorgeous" ” is a road-adventure; “ Platefools ” is a romantic comedy and “The Tour” is a suspense thriller. They are designed for mainstream audiences in mind. Simple yet full of substance, the stories are based on universal themes and portrayed by culturally divers characters that everyone can relate to and be entertained by. These productions are budgeted from $2.5 million to $5 million.
          Set against the backdrop of Southern California deserts, The Tour is slated to shoot in early Spring 2017. Numerous name actors (no stars) are eager to portray the lead characters, but I have not made any commitment yet. We are aggressively pursuing to cast international actors as well as unknown, super talented fresh faces for this character driven, action packed film. Anyone is welcome to submit his/her credentials. Our mailing address is on our website

• AWF: How did you come up with the concept of The Tour?

Vahé: Although I have written 15 screenplays and countless lyrics, I never consider myself a writer, maybe a re-writer. The Tour came to life from my difficulties of raising production money. Thus, a very simple visual idea was formed in my head. The objective was to write a meaningful film that has everything a good movie should have yet requires a minimal budget to produce it without compromising the quality. I wanted to have an epic look, good action, breathtaking sets and locations, as well as absorbing characters and lot of substance. I wrote the story and then with the help of a dedicated British writer, Debe Scott, we collaborated on the screenplay, which it took us one year to write and two years to do over 20 re-writes.

• AWF: You've dedicated 30 years of your life to Lucine Distribution to produce film/TV productions. Which project has been the most rewarding for you?

Vahé: I have worked on over 150 film and television productions…from gofer to soundman, cameraman, writer, producer, director, to marketing and distribution. I founded Lucine in 2000, which is primarily a distribution company with global network of 15 marketing and sales representatives. The film that was the most rewarding to me was “ That Feeling ”, my first professional film, which I wrote, produced and directed in 1983. This film was a controversial musical drama and got stolen from the film-processing lab a week before its release date. 20 years has gone by and this film is still in large but its reward was an invaluable lesson that I learned about the cut-throat business of film financing, producing and distribution. Profoundly, it sharpened my understanding of the differences between art and business. It made me an entrepreneurial filmmaker.

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