Magazine Sep/Oct 2012 Rough, Rugged and Raw

01 September 2012, 11:00
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Rough, Rugged and Raw

In life, we are all born dreamers. The only difference is some of us are crazy enough to keep dreaming long into adulthood. Twenty-three year old music video director Alex Nazari has a long list of accomplishments. In his short career, he has worked for artists such as 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg, Chris Brown, Bow Wow and T.I., despite the fact that he had no formal education in production and no contacts in the industry before he started. The only ingredient he had was the courage to pursue his dreams.

Alex Nazari is a young director who has been making a name for himself in the realm of music videos, but despite his success, his parents still cannot make sense of his career choices. “They want to kill me for shooting videos for all these hip-hop artists,” says Nazari, dressed in all black with a hat that reads, “Can’t Stop the Crooks.” It’s no wonder his parents misunderstand their son’s career ambitions.

The first encounter he had with producing videos was in high school, where he made short videos for a class using iMovie. The process was very casual, but left a lasting impression on him. In college, before he eventually stumbled across UCLA, he enrolled in classes that sounded appealing. This resulted in a black-and-white photography class, where he was first introduced to the world of cameras. “I wasn’t into filmmaking, I wasn’t into cameras, I wasn’t into anything like that, but I loved that photography class.” The class taught him about the foundations of photography, and he even found early success when he won an award for one of his photographs he took with a 35mm film camera. The would-be director claims he was never interested in photography, which he only considered a creative hobby.

The creativity that resulted from the class was later revisited when Serge, a friend from high school, claimed he had plans of becoming a professional photographer. Nazari was immediately skeptical considering his friend had no previous experience working with cameras, but decided to help because he knew the basics of photography. The amateur photographers came together and began snapping pictures of their cars. Serge, however, hooked up with Ya Boy, at the time an up-and-coming rapper from the Bay Area, and his career began building right in front of his friend’s eyes. Nazari soon recalled his high school days when he was producing short videos and figured if his friend could become a photographer with no prior experience, perhaps he could become a director of music videos.

The young man’s parents, however, which he calls “super strict,” disapproved of his plans. They constantly remarked, “What are you doing? Why are you wasting your time? Go to school. Get a degree. Get a real job.” In response, Nazari walked away from UCLA and borrowed a camera from a friend. The gamble certainly paid off.

“I honestly didn’t know anything about filmmaking. I came into it blind,” says Nazari. The first few music videos were produced without a budget; Alex was shooting in the streets. The entire process was amateur, but his vision was undeniable. The young director continued producing music videos and established relationships and contacts. Jay Tauzin, his now-producer, who had previously worked on productions for artists such as 50 Cent and Kanye West, saw a great deal of potential in him. They joined forces quickly thereafter, and Nazari’s productions began evolving.

“I didn’t know what an AD [assistant director] was, I didn’t know what a producer was, I didn’t know what an executive producer was, I didn’t know what an art director was. I didn’t know anything.” Tauzin showed him the ropes and brought along a team of craftsmen. This provided him with the freedom of exercising his vision as a director. This also meant he was no longer holding the camera himself because he had a cinematographer to take care of that for him. In the past few months, Nazari has attracted other clients as well. Rank & File Media, a commercial and music video production company, contacted him after seeing his work. They eventually signed him as a director

 

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