Interview with Award Winning Filmmaker Melika Jamshidabadi

November 28, 2023

Melika Jamshidbadi is an award winning filmmaker (Image Credit Getty / Rights Acquired)

Melika Jamshidabadi is an emerging star filmmaker who has already illuminated the celestial heavens of Hollywood. Melika has already won more accolades in a short timespan than most filmmakers will accumulate over decades. Her film, When I Grow Up, a powerful short was the Cash Prize Award winner at the LA Shorts Film Festival this year. Melika is as humble as she is talented, and as elegant in front of the camera as her filmmaking prowess is behind it. Melika has been making films since she held an iPhone. Her eye behind the camera is as a storyteller, artist and filmmaker. We caught up with this rising star of Tinseltown Melika Jamshidabadi with an interview in Irvine, California.

The Persian Observer : Thanks for taking the time to chat with The Persian Observer. Please describe your early life education and upbringing.

Melika at a photoshoot (Image Credit Instagram)

Melika Jamshidabadi : I was born in Iran and moved to the United States when I was 12. I studied film in college and started to experiment with different filmmaking styles and explore different roles by making my own films.

The Persian Observer : What were the earliest influences that got you involved in film?

Melika Jamshidabadi : Well, my fascination with film began at a young age. I remember watching classic movies with my family, especially those from the golden era of Hollywood. The storytelling, the magic of cinematography, and the way emotions were conveyed on screen always seemed so fascinating to me. Other influences included my cousin who was also into filmmaking and my film teachers who inspired me to pursue filmmaking as a career.

Melika Jamshidabadi at LA Swim Week (Image Credit IMDB)

The Persian Observer : What are your Top 3 favorite Films of all time?  

Melika Jamshidabadi : Pinning down all-time favorites is tough, but films like “The Godfather” and “Citizen Kane,” always stood out for me. I also enjoyed a lot of the James Bond and Mission Impossible movies as I grew up watching them with my dad. 

The Persian Observer : What were your Top 3 favorite TV shows growing up and currently on TV?

Melika Jamshidabadi : I always loved watching “Friends” for its humor and memorable characters. I also really enjoyed “Breaking Bad” for its intense character development and plot. I also really liked “Black Mirror” for how each episode is a standalone story, exploring the potential consequences of advancements in science and technology and its thought-provoking narratives.

The Persian Observer : What was your earliest film-making experience growing up at home?

Melika Jamshidabadi : My earliest filmmaking experience growing up at home was taking videos on my dad’s old film camera and making videos with my cousin on my iPad. Me and my cousin, Arsham, would always take characters from our favorite movies and create our own scenarios to film. He has always been an inspiration to me to pursue filmmaking. 

Melika Jamshidabadi at an industry event (Image Credit Getty / Right Acquired)

The Persian Observer : Who are your Top 3 favorite actresses of all time?  Who are the top 3 Hollywood actresses you want in your future / current films?

Melika Jamshidabadi : Meryl Streep, Natalie Portman, and Julie Andrews  top my list of favorite actresses. For future films, collaborating with other talented actresses such as Jennifer Lawrence and Emma Stone would be a dream.

The Persian Observer : Who are your favorite Top 3 actors of all time and which Top 3 Hollywood actors do you want in your future / current films?

Melika Jamshidabadi : Johnny Depp, Tom Hanks, and Tom Cruise are some of my favorite actors. Collaborating with them on future projects would be an incredible experience.

The Persian Observer : What was your education in terms of film-making? If no academic course of study, how did you learn the steps to putting together a film ( short, long-feature) – ie: what resources/mentors / online platforms / self-creation were the sources of education?

Melika Jamshidabadi at the L.A. premiere of Mission Impossible : Red Reckoning (Image Credit Getty / Rights Acquired)

Melika Jamshidabadi : I studied film in college and spent a lot of time working on different sets, gaining hands-on experience on various sets to learn the different aspects of filmmaking. I had a lot of amazing teachers, professors and mentors that helped me along the way. I also learned a lot by experimenting and creating films by myself and taking on all the different roles. 

The Persian Observer : Congrats on ‘When I Grow Up‘ – when did you start working on the film?

Melika Jamshidabadi : I started writing this film in January of 2023 and shot it in April 2023.

The Persian Observer : What was the filmmaking process of creating ‘When I Grow Up ?‘ Describe the writing, filming, location scouting, casting, producing, and editing process for the film.

Melika Jamshidabadi : The filmmaking process for When I Grow Up‘ had a significant transformation from its initial concept. I did not have a crew for this film, which led me to have multiple roles including producer, cinematographer, and editor, aside from writer and director. Handling the casting and locations also fell under my responsibilities. Facing challenges in securing a classroom for filming, I took matters into my own hands and constructed one. Managing the different parts of production independently was undoubtedly demanding, but the experience was ultimately fulfilling.

The Persian Observer : Congrats on your social media platform successes, how were you able to grow such a prolific Tik Tok following? Congrats on your Instagram grand success with 235K followers and counting ! How did you parlay your 4 Million TikTok followers into Instagram success?

Melika Jamshidabadi : I started posting my work on social media in 2020 and behind-the-scenes videos of photoshoots and film shoots which got a lot of attention and I was able to grow my platform using my work. 

Melika Jamshidabadi at a Disney premiere (Image Credit Getty / Rights Acquired)

The Persian Observer : Congrats on your brand ambassadorship with the growing Fortune 500 companies you work with. What has been the path to working with these companies? 

Melika Jamshidabadi : Thank you so much! It’s been an incredible journey to collaborate with Fortune 500 companies. The path to working with them has involved a combination of networking, a commitment to continuous learning, and a passion for what I do!

The Persian Observer : Elaborate on other films you have made / highlights/experiences from these other films.

Melika Jamshidabadi : One of my earlier films, “Disparity”, shows experiences in war-torn countries, exploring how distinct sounds and visuals can evoke contrasting emotions in individuals. The narrative emphasizes that while we may all hear the same sounds, their impact can vary greatly. The film unfolds through the perspectives of children who find joy in the sound of fireworks, anticipating something beautiful, juxtaposed with those for whom the same sound signifies terror. I made this film when I was 16 years old, after I got the idea from when we were driving past Disneyland and I heard the sound of fireworks and got excited, before remembering the stark reality of that sound for so many kids in the Middle East and other regions still to this day. 

Melika Jamshidabadi’s short film When I Grow Up won big at the LA Shorts Film Festival (Image Credit IMDB)

The Persian Observer : What is the promotional schedule like for When I Grow Up for the upcoming film awards circuit? 

Melika Jamshidabadi : When I Grow Up, which tells the story of growing up as a girl in the Middle East not only entails being deprived of the same aspirations as girls in other countries, but it also exposes the harsh reality that the simple act of reaching adulthood is uncertain. The film has already gained awards in over 10 film festivals, including the Oscar-qualifying LA Shorts Fest, and will be screening in other festivals that will be announced soon!

The Persian Observer : What are some future films / projects you are working on now ?

Melika Jamshidabadi : I recently directed another film with a very talented cast and crew about the effects of PTSD and survivor’s guilt. The film shows the experience of a school janitor who has been working at an abandoned school for months after the school was destroyed in the war, speaking to the lifeless bodies of students. The film explores the emotional scars that traumatic events like war can inflict upon the human soul and how the lines between reality and traumatic memories blur and aims to show the aftermath of these events and support those with the invisible wounds of these traumatic events. 

Melika Jamshidabadi at the premiere of Next Goal Wins (Image Credit IG)

The Persian Observer : How can we get more Persians to get involved in filmmaking and telling our stories in Hollywood?

Melika Jamshidabadi : Encouraging more Persians in filmmaking involves overcoming cultural barriers and pursuing a passion despite the challenges in the industry. I think there are a lot of barriers, especially in our culture for going into filmmaking as opposed to a safer profession since gaining success is very difficult in this field. I definitely faced a lot of challenges going into this field and I have always wanted to inspire more Persians and especially more women in the film industry and leverage filmmaking as a tool to shed light on important topics. The cinematic medium possesses a distinctive capacity to evoke emotions and perspectives, which can be used to spread awareness on many social issues, and coming from Iran, I believe there are so many stories that need to be told, so it would be truly impactful to see more Persians delve into filmmaking, contributing their voices to the narrative and bringing our stories to a broader audience.

Follow Melika Jamshidabadi on social media where she has 4 Million Tik Tok followers and 236K Instagram followers @ Melicka