An exclusive interview with Garri Vardanyan – Film Producer
Tell us about yourself?
I am a full-time film producer, I oversee all elements of production from concept to the final product. I also provide financial advice in terms of whether the projects qualify to be greenlit. My financial background from EY has prepared me to negotiate with executive directors to secure film financing.
What makes you different than other professionals in your field?
I would say that diversity is my differentiator. Living in three countries (Russia, England and the USA) that have different cultures distinctly shaped my character. I believe that a diverse background helps to manage people on set, especially when it comes to understanding crew members’ values and expectations. There are numerous professionals in the entertainment industry that have foreign backgrounds and it is vital to make sure that every team member feels comfortable on set.
How much potential market share can you achieve in the next 3 years?
My primary goal is the theatrical distribution of films I’ve been working on, not the expansion of my market share. What does concern me though is that the entertainment landscape is changing on an ongoing basis? Just a couple of days ago it was announced that three giants will emerge onto the streaming services landscape. Customers’ tastes and preferences are shifting towards VOD these days. If this trend is likely to continue, there will be fewer moviegoers and more streamers.
What was the best book or series that you’ve ever read?
The Art of War by Sun Tzu.
What are the best and worst purchases you’ve ever made?
Best purchase I’ve made was my MBA for two reasons. One was the networking, where I was lucky enough to meet great professionals inside and outside my field of expertise. My university provided so many opportunities to meet influencers, CEOs of major organizations (Fortune 500 companies) and impressive professionals, so my network expanded enormously. Understanding financing principles and applying them in real life scenarios was the second reason why MBA was the best purchase. Constructing financial models to analyze the success of the project was learned and is applied in my everyday work.
The worst purchase would be a flight ticket back to Russia, away from friends and family. Spending 10 months in my home country was demotivational as I was not involved much in the production of films. Nevertheless, I gained some vital financing skills that help me analyze proposed film projects.
What takes up too much of your time?
Don’t know whether this is good or bad, but I spend a lot of time on details. When the work is complete, it is very important for me to check again and make sure that everything is done correctly and with no mistakes. Perhaps you should not devote excessive time to review your material, but I like to be confident in my work.
What two pieces of advice would you give to college students/new startup business owners who want to become entrepreneurs?
1. Power of networking. College students and business owners need to get out into the field and introduce themselves to interesting individuals, especially in the entertainment industry. If you met a great scriptwriter and know that one day this person will bring great value to the community or an organization stick close to this writer. Have an extraverted approach when it comes to networking. If you want to be a producer one day, you will need to organize and manage a group of people, and networking early on in your career would be a great help.
2. Speak up when needed. I always encourage students to be proactive inside and outside classrooms. Don’t be afraid to share your viewpoint even if people may disagree with you. Even if you are an assistant to the producer, who runs around the room bringing coffee and donuts, interact with the producer as much as possible, share your views, vision, strategies, etc. To my experience, top film producers encourage crew members to share their views.
Who has impressed you most with what they’ve accomplished?
Jack Ma inspires me the most as he is an example of a person who never gives up and is not the classic story of success. I truly agree with Ma’s words:” If you don’t give up, you still have a chance. Giving up is the greatest failure.” I believe that the same concept applies to the producers, as there are so many unsuccessful movies and yet so few successful that cover up all the costs and bad experiences.
Tell us about something you are proud of – about your greatest challenge.
Ability to work with people is something I am very proud of. I get to see and share emotions every day on the set, work with great actors and if I am lucky enough to make life-long friends. Managing people can be extremely frustrating and time-consuming, but all negative emotions fade away when the final product comes out to be what the team initially anticipated.
How people should connect with you?