|Creating films makes SSU student Aflatooni tick
Sonoma State University communications student Navid Aflatooni has one thing on his mind: movies.
“I’ve always been interested in movies, definitely,” Aflatooni said. “I loved watching movies, making movies as a young kid here and there, but definitely the art of film in itself. That’s what I love to do. I could watch movies all day long.”
Originally from Danville, Aflatooni came to SSU his freshmen year to pursue his filmmaking career by taking communications classes, including SSU-TV.
“I’ve had him in quite a few classes. But have probably gotten to know him the best from SSU-TV,” Communications Professor Ed Beebout said.
This semester, Aflatooni was appointed the SSU-TV short film team leader. In this position, he works with other SSU-TV students to write, shoot and create short pieces of fiction to air on the SSU-TV channel and Web site.
“I think what stands out in terms of Navid, in terms of his qualities as a short film leader is he is very creative,” Beebout said. “The pieces he has worked on in the past always show a high level of creativity, also a high level of follow-through and continuity. He clearly loves working with the film and video and throws himself into it wholeheartedly.”
In early October, Campus Movie Fest (CMF) came to the SSU campus challenging students to make a five minute movie in one week using the equipment CMF provided. According to the CMF Web site, “students at participating colleges and universities have one week to create their own short movies, with each school hosting red carpet finales to showcase its top movies.”
Aflatooni, along with fellow communications student John Ashley, used this yearly opportunity to bring to life their masterpiece “Leela,” which won Best Picture in the festival. Ashley has been working with Aflatooni for more than a year on several different film projects. While Ashley came up with the original concept of Leela, he admits it was with the assistance of Aflatooni that Leela went from thought to reality.
“Whenever we come up with an idea, we try to bounce ideas off one another, and whatever idea I come up with usually gets supported,” Ashley said.
“You have one week to make it, so we were up for 36 hours editing…didn’t sleep for almost two days. At the very end, it was worth it, and we enjoyed every single second of it,” Aflatooni said.
Said Ashley, “We just started slowly developing the idea, and now it is what it is today.”
Aflatooni tries to center his work on high drama, which is demonstrated in Leela as well as an SSU-TV piece, “Looking for a Miracle.”
“I feel like dramas are what really movies are,” Aflatooni said. “Comedies are great, everyone should laugh. But life is full of drama. Dramas are way more relatable than comedies.”
Aflatooni has always had strong support from his friends about his film career, but when it comes to his family, it is slightly more complex.
“My dad wants me to be happy, he wants me to do what I love to do,” Aflatooni said.
“But when I told him I wanted to do film, he’s always been saying, ‘get a plan B and have something as backup,’” Aflatooni said. “I feel like if you are giving yourself a plan B or a backup plan, that means you’re letting failure become an option. I don’t want to let that be an option, this is what I want to do.”
Aflatooni would like to model his work after director Darren Aronofsky, who directed films such as “The Black Swan,” “The Fountain” and “Requiem for a Dream.”
“I would love to be a director. One of my odd kinds of passions is to act, which I am not that great at, but I would like to learn and get training. Definitely just be in the film industry, doing something like being a producer is really what I want to do.”
Beebout said that Aflatooni “seems to learn from his past projects in terms of his conceptualization and story-telling abilities.”
He gets progressively stronger with each new project, and that’s always gratifying to see that, because that is the goal for any of us.”
Aflatooni plans on attending film school in Los Angeles after he finishes at SSU.
“I understand that it is a really, really tough field. But it really is the only thing that makes me happy. I would not be happy doing anything else,” Aflatooni said.
To watch Leela, visit Ashley’s YouTube channel at youtube.com/user/entitativeproduction. To see more from Aflatooni and the SSU-TV short film group go to www.sonoma.edu/ssutv.