At the tender age of seven, Ara Soudjian already knew he wanted to be a filmmaker.
“As a child, I was captivated by motion pictures and its power to transport a viewer. I would force my mother to take me to the movie theatres every single Sunday”, said Soudjian.
Ara put his love of filmmaking into practice in high school when he began to shoot mini-parodies with classmates. He then applied and was accepted into California State University, Northridge.
While studying film at CSUN, Ara also took part in Warner Brothers’ animation program at Glendale College. His skills in animation and illustration garnered him part-time jobs at Nickelodeon.
Torn between animation and filmmaking, Ara decided to pursue filmmaking while utilizing his illustration and animation skills in his film projects.
Being part Mexican, Ara was introduced to foreign cinema, looking to directors such as Pedro Almodovar and Federico Fellini for inspiration.
A pivotal moment in his life was when his mother introduced him to Mexican-American film director Robert Rodriguez, who continues to be Ara’s greatest inspiration to this day. Rodriguez’s self- sufficient approach inspired hopeful filmmakers like Ara to pick up cameras, and become “rebels without a crew.”
Ara was also inspired by filmmaker Spike Lee for his innovative camera angles and remarkable storytelling.
Soon after he graduated film school, Ara encountered a challenging time.
“As soon as I graduated college the digital revolution came about and everything that I was taught became completely obsolete. I was taught how to edit by cutting film manually. Editing digitally was a completely different art form. I had to start from scratch,” said Soudjian.
Ara’s silver lining came when he saw a casting call for a feature film called “After Freedom.” It was on this set where Ara met his current film partners Garin Armenian Hussenjian, and Berj Beramian.
“Up until this point, I had only focused on my craft, I overlooked the business aspect of it and this is where Garin and Berj became valuable,” said Soudjian.
Having trouble finding jobs in the entertainment field, Ara’s father suggested that he start creating videos for ANC and AYF. This proved to be important point in Ara’s filmmaking career.
ANC activists, Noubar Tebelekian and Raffi Assatourian started a program called ANC TV, which was targeted toward the Armenian youth. With the help of Sako Bedrossian, Ara soon learned how to edit digitally and began to create segmen’s on the show.
With his new attained knowledge, Ara landed jobs in major movie productions. He worked on several George Clooney movies such as “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” and “Intolerable Cruelty.”
Oscar nominated set decorator, Leslie Rollins, was so impressed by Ara’s illustration skills that he asked him to make some illustrations of Jennifer Garner in the movie, “13 Going on 30.”
Working 13 hour days on a movie set, Ara always made time for the ANC, producing their annual banquet videos. ANC started referring Ara to create commercials for politicians such as Antonio Villaraigosa, Rafi Manoukian and Paul Krikorian.
Through the connections he made with the ANC and with the help of Ara Khachatourian, he was able to receive a major job opportunity directing public service announcemen’s for the 2004 election campaign of Rock the Vote, a non-profit organization working to promote youth participation in the electoral process.
Ara worked with celebrities such as P.Diddy, Paul van Dyke, Black Eyed Peas and Lindsay Lohan. His spots featuring the famous Latin band Kinky aired on Univision.
Rock the Vote was not the only project Ara worked on, which aired on MTV. He later was given the opportunity to edit a music video for the rock band Head Automatica. From there Ara ventured into music videos, and won Best Music Video for Gor Mkhitarian at the Armenian Music Awards.
He continued shooting music videos for Los Angeles rock bands such as XO and Vokee. Ara received great news this past summer when George Tonikian, A&R to Serjical Strike Records, called him to direct a music video for Serj Tankian’s song, “Money”. Ara was thrilled to work for Serj Tankian, though he was more grateful to be referred by incredible artists such as Roger Kupelian, Sako Shahinian and Sevag Vrej.
Currently, Ara works at the Los Angeles based production company, The Cannery. There, he has had the chance to produce television pilots for Fox and Sony while still making videos for the Armenian community.
“Many people tried to discourage me by telling me that I would get nowhere in the entertainment industry if I worked with Armenia’s. But it was organizations like ANC, AYF, AGBU, the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry, and Homenetmen, that gave me the experience and confidence that I needed. Being active in these communities allowed me to meet many talented up and coming Armenian artists who helped land me jobs in the American movie industry and I am very grateful for that,” said Soudjian.