It did not happen overnight. It was a labour of love. The world of cinema beckoned. I was 18 and desperate to learn in a time of no internet. No Google. What takes seconds now took months back then. But my friends and I liked nothing more than spending hours and hours figuring out, for instance, the differences between 8bit and 10bit or interlace and progressive.
It was surreal when it actually happened!
At the age of 20, I found myself standing in Milad Film Studios, working for Rasoul- Sadrameli. It was a dream come true but a massive responsibility. An award-winning Iranian director had put his faith in us, three young men with drive and ambition but a long way to go when it came to experience.
Behind the scenes of his films, I learnt some important skills. Lighting, camera blocking and the language shared by the production designer, DoP and director. Long shifts and hardly any sleep was part of the job but I was absorbing like a sponge and loving every minute of it. And it was on Sadrameli’s set that I realised what role I wanted to play in this world. We were filming when Bahram Badakhshani the DoP, stepped aside and invited me to look down the sacred viewfinder of the 35mm film camera. And suddenly I was home. I was going to be a cinematographer.
Three years into that experience I knew that I had to add qualifications to my on-the-job training and took the entrance exam after dropping out of Industrial engineering which I had no interest in. I contemplated studying abroad, but I was advised to get my BA first and then apply; which I did. Many hurdles later I boarded the plane and landed in Heathrow having been accepted at the University of Greenwich in cinematography and post-production.
Surviving in London was the first step of my journey. I’d left my family, friends and most importantly all my connections behind for a new life in one of the toughest capitals of the world. After 12 years of networking and building a career, I had to start from scratch. It was humbling but character building. Every minute of my time I spent looking for opportunities to demonstrate my skills and break into the world of British cinema.