(Photo provided by Musila Munuve)
Hi Musila, please give us a brief introduction about yourself.
I am an aspiring filmmaker currently pursuing my MFA at UT Austin.
I remember you said you received your Bachelor's in Computer Science but transitioned to a career in film. What did that transition look like for you?
I developed an interest in photography at the end of high school and continued to pursue it during undergrad. Just after I graduated from my undergrad a friend who liked my photography approached me to shoot his short film for him. In the conversations afterward, he sent me resources to learn about being a cinematographer and I really enjoyed learning about it and specifically the work of Bradford Young. I was working in UX Design at the time and wanted to go back to school for a master's but after learning about cinematography an MFA instead of an MS became an attractive option. I began to work on music videos and short films of my own to build my portfolio and eventually got into film school.
How or when did you realize you were interested in studying film?
I have a vivid memory of watching Mother of George a few years ago and being struck by how beautiful the film was. I didn't know who Bradford Young was then but every frame was stunning and with my photography background I wanted to be able to compose these moving images that held as much power as a still image.
Why is film important to you?
Film is my current iteration of trying to make the world a more beautiful, more human world. There have been multiple ways I've tried to do this in the past but I believe film has the power to reach people emotionally and for that reason can be a powerful tool for change.
How is studying film at UT Austin different from working on your own projects (prior to your enrollment in the program)?
Studying at UT has allowed me to dedicate all my time to film, without worrying about making mistakes or having the films be financially viable just yet, and it has connected me to a film community. Prior to enrolment, I was trying to make films after work which often meant I was drained financially and physically while making these films. Being a student takes away that pressure and as a by-product makes it more acceptable, encouraged even, to make mistakes and learn from them. The support from my cohort and the community at UT is also invaluable in finding people to learn from and collaborate with.
What is the inspiration behind your work and why?
The inspiration in my work at the moment is a combination of Blackness, youth, love, and time.
How do you incorporate your inspiration into your work?
These are concepts I tend to think about naturally so it finds its way naturally in the work I do and the scripts I write. It's less of a conscious effort than a set of guiding principles or concepts.
Why is representation in film important to you and what does it look like to you?
Representation in art generally is important to me because I see art as a way of understanding ourselves and the world around us. The more we see certain images of ourselves the more we see ourselves in certain lights and understand who and what we can be. I think though representation shouldn't be a goal in and of itself. The type of representation is also important.
What is your step-by-step process when you work on a project (starting from coming up with ideas…)?
I am usually inspired by some emotion, so as I go through life I try to keep track of novel or overwhelming emotions and draw from these when writing. Once I have the inspiration it's a continuous process of revision and rewriting. At this point, you have to have some sort of deadline because no script will ever be perfect. From that point, the process varies but there's some combination of development, production, and post-production. I don't have a set process for this part yet.
What equipment do you use to produce your videos and overall content (cameras, lights, etc.)?
I don't have a set of equipment that I consistently use. I try to use whatever is available to me and to use it in a way that serves the story.
What is your least favorite part (if you have any) about being in a film and favorite part(s)?
I haven't done it long enough to have a least favorite part but there are a lot of logistics that stand between the initial idea and the final film that can be frustrating.
Are there any artists that you have wanted to work with whether that be filmmakers, actors, singers, etc.?
A lot of my work is inspired by music and one of my favorite artists is Frank Ocean. His meticulousness and the wide range of references he brings into his art are something I would love to collaborate with. Bradford Young was the first person who made me want to become a filmmaker so to work with him would be a dream.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now? (i.e., in life or in general).
I have no idea. I hope to be making films. I hope to be somewhat financially stable from my art. I hope to have a family.
Do you have any advice for aspiring filmmakers or artists in general?
My advice would be to develop your film language as much as possible. One of the ways to do that is to watch as many films as possible and to build a collection of references to emulate or subvert. Another way is to create as many films as possible and to develop your artistic voice in that way.
Check out some of Musila's work below! :)
Papaya: Musila Munuve (2021)
exportformau: Musila Munuve (2022)
Updated: Feb 27
Questions facilitated by Avia Bateman
Photograph provided by Sierra Boyd
Hi Sierra, please give us a brief introduction of yourself as a creator, what do you do?
Hello Avia <3,
As a creator, I like to experiment and give myself challenges. But mostly I like to create because it's a way of using my voice and a reflection of my personality.
What is your medium? (i.e., drawing, photography)
Poetry, photography, and painting.
How often do you engage in your medium(s)?
I write almost every day not full-on poems but phrases that pop into my head when my mind is racing. Sometimes I can write a poem in one sitting if I am really passionate, but mostly it takes a while for it to feel complete. I have been starting to paint more on my off days as a date with my creativity, and taking pictures is more of a habit like writing. I like taking pictures or videos of things and moments that move me. I LOVE FILM CAMERAS AND CAMCORDERS!
A couple of photographs taken on Sierra Boyd's film camera.
What is the inspiration behind your work?
I think what ties all of my mediums together is my fascination for nature and human life, also my desire to feel understood and seen. I think nature is my roots though, I notice the main things I take pictures/ videos of are of nature when I write I mostly speak of the fluctuations of human emotions (like when I am happy, sad, angry or need intimacy). I have tried to paint things other than nature but I think it's more of my heart to paint nature! All of them flow for me and that's how I know it's something that I am meant to explore and experiment with.
Here's one of Sierra's favorite poems she's written:
Chameleon in Camouflage
You know the feeling…
we all know the feeling…
when your chameleon is in camouflage.
When your mind turns its back on what your heart desires,
biting your tongue to mute any utter of sound and holding your breath in fear to expand your lungs in a world that feels too tight to exhale.
At some point, we’re all chameleons committing self-betrayal.
When you look into the mirror and dull eyes meet yours, self-neglect oozing from your pores, and you feel not a soul can detect any scent of your sadness.
Sometimes we salt the earth with tears of madness, masters of disguise, magicians of lies in a struggle to return to our unique vibrancy, cradled by the illusion of safety in isolation, for some of us it’s instinct to hide from the world but unable to hide from what festers within, but we must forgive ourselves…. when we become chameleons in camouflaged skin.
Why is creative expression important to you?
Creative expression is important to me because I struggle with communicating how I feel sometimes and when I am in a creative space it's like I gain my power back by expressing how I feel through it. Creative expression uplifts. One time I was feeling so depressed but that dissolved when I put on my headphones and started painting. With this expression, I feel bold and it teaches me not to judge myself so much because creative expression is like the phrase I got from my cousin's father: "do you, be you, stay you".
What is your step-by-step process when you are engaging in your work (i.e., pen and paper, a nice view...)?
The #1 thing I always need is my headphones to listen to music, it helps to get lost. Always need sunlight and a lovely view is always a plus :)
What was your favorite project you worked on and why?
I really have been loving painting lately, I love all of my 3 nature paintings because they've taught me three things: Don't panic when you make mistakes! Things won't always turn out the way you want it to! Be patient with yourself without pressure and things will always turn out fine! I think they're the best I have ever painted because I just let it go if I messed up.
A painting designed by Sierra Boyd.
What have you found is the best setting for you to write or take pictures (i.e., outside, inside, any time, any place) and why?
For painting, outside in the sun is where it lol, for writing though I am all over the place. To be honest I like writing the most in my notes (on my phone) underneath the covers. Love nature pictures so outside are great, I always like taking pictures of people that I love so being around that setting I enjoy too.
A photo taken by Avia Bateman of Sierra Boyd.
Where do you see yourself in life and work 10 years from now?
No clue but I hope I will be doing something I love. I hope I am always surrounded by beauty. I hope I make peace with the fact that I may never figure this life thing out haha.
How does your engagement in creative expression inspire your perceptions of yourself and others?
I see myself in my most beautiful state when I am creating something. When I get deeper into creation I am able to see that beauty in other people when they are creating and I am always in awe of how different creativity is for different people. I think the quickest way to each other's hearts is when we all share what we create. I think that inspiration is a pretty intimate thing!
A photo of Sierra and one of her favorite people.
Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?
Putting pressure on yourself for things to be perfect really does mess with the authenticity of what you create. I would say if you start to feel like you don't want to mess up, allow yourself to because you get even more creative! Oooorr take a step back to calm yourself because at the end of the day, it doesn't have to define who you are, your art is just an extension of you and can change. Just create <3
Thank you for participating, do you have anything that I may have missed?
No ma'am loved these questions <3 <3
Questions facilitated by Carissa Salazar
(Photo provided by Farzad Golpayegani)
Welcome to Season 3 of Simplex Minds! To kick off the year strong we are having conversations with different creatives to talk about their work and thought processes behind creating. We are so happy to introduce our first creative of this season, Farzad Golpayegani.
Hi Farzad, please give us a brief introduction of yourself as a creator, what do you do?
Hi my name is Farzad Golpayegani. I am a musician, producer, and visual art artist. I released my first solo music album in 2002 and so far I have released nine albums. As a painter I work in traditional and digital media and my style is very close to surrealism. I have had several group and solo painting exhibitions internationally. Apart from my artistic activities, I work as an art director at my full-time job. My background is in graphic design and I work in a variety of design fields.
Since you are a multi-hyphenate creative, what is the “origin story” of getting into all those mediums?
My father used to be a graphic designer and painter. Although I never had the chance to learn from him directly since he passed away when I was a child, I was inspired by his work and developed my interest when I entered the art school. He was also a musician, but the main reason I got into music was because of my older brother. He used to listen to rock music and I gradually got interested. I started playing the guitar at the age of 15, and over time I learned to play acoustic guitar, bass guitar, and violin.
Is there a creative medium that you lean towards more than the others? If so, why, or why not?
Throughout the years I've always tried to keep a balance and stay active in art as well as in music. The way I work is that I usually focus on one for a while, for instance sometimes by dedicating more time on music in order to complete an album, and sometimes I spend more time on my visual art activities in order to complete a painting collection. But I would say I don't have a favorite medium. However, obviously, music is the most powerful form to express your creativity.
What is the most challenging aspect of being a multidisciplinary creative? What is the most rewarding?
As you can imagine music and art require a lot of exercise and rehearsal and it makes it very difficult if you want to stay up to date on both simultaneously. The challenging part would be when I focus on one for a while and then go back to the other and find that I need to catch up with whatever I used to do. The rewarding part would be the fact that it gives me a comprehensive understanding of what I would like to achieve with my art. Not to mention, I can appreciate and enjoy them more deeply!
Do you approach music-making and art-making in a similar creative process? For example, do you carefully plan and execute, or are you more spontaneous?
Regarding music, sometimes I come up with the ideas while jamming and playing with the guitar, and sometimes I spend time writing down the notes and developing them into a piece. By doing that I write them first and then I try to play them on the guitar. Regarding the paintings, usually the process is to try to come up with the main concept and then I create a lot of sketches and study the figure, the colors, and all the elements involved in my artwork, and then execute the preferred medium.
How do you make time for all your passions?
This is a good question! Throughout my career, I have always tried to have plans and follow them closely. I have eliminated a lot of activities that are not productive or do not bring any value to my life. For instance, although one of my passions is video production and I watch a lot of videos, I never watch TV. I don't even have a set at home, because I'm against the idea of sitting and wasting time on watching whatever is on the screen. But if I want to name the most important factor to make time for my passions, it is that I'm very consistent. I enjoy spending time on my passion, and accomplishing a goal gives me a joy and peace of mind that nothing else can compare.
Does your music inform your painting, or vice versa?
Yes they do. As a matter of fact I have experienced projects that I tried to combine the two. I used to have live music performances where I did an improvised live drawing between the songs. I also create videos and visualizations based on my paintings that I display on the screen during my live performances. Regarding my art, on my last painting collections I tried to create a piece per each of the tracks on my last albums, so I bring the musical concept into visuals.
What inspires you to create?
Everything. History, politics, society, environment, beliefs, culture... I try to observe what happens around me and in the world and reflect it on my work. Apart from my Art direction work and my job, my artistic activities are not commercial at all. I don't write music, or paint so that I can sell, and I don't mind if my work is not popular or trending. My sole goal is to create the best I can.
Where do you see your music and art in 10 years?
I hope I can make progress and release more music and complete more paintings. I have learned to stay enthusiastic and willing to enhance my work other than stay in the safe zone and repeat what I am good at. For the last 15 years I have moved a lot and lived in different countries, and that required a lot of effort to adapt to the new environment, and sometimes took me away from staying focused. I believe now I am a bit more stable and I hope to have more balance in my life. I hope the next challenges are within my art to create more quality work, and not in everyday life!
Do you have any advice for younger artists or anything you wished you knew earlier?
Always try to do your best on whatever you work on. Sometimes it might feel like your work is not appreciated the way you expect it. Don't let that affect your work negatively. Learn to enjoy what you do, and not the outcome of it.
You can learn more about Farzad and view his work at farzadonline.com