We had the good fortune of connecting with Michael Masarof and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Michael, how do you think about risk?
It is important to realize everyone’s definition of risk is different to what they are doing and what they want to achieve. But for me, the initial risk was deciding to get into a profession, in my case filmmaking, that has inherent risk in it. Being a filmmaker has no assurances. But, I knew it is what I wanted to do and had the support network to do it. If I was in another position, I might have thought the risk too big. So I think the first question you need to ask yourself is: can you commit your life to a career that will put your life out of balance. If the answer is yes than dive in but also if you are like me you will have no choice because you will hear a voice that keeps telling you: why aren’t you doing this? The second part of the risk equation is once you have committed yourself to the career that has inherent risk in it, how do you support yourself while trying to “succeed” in the high risk career? Defining success is a whole other question but for now let’s say success is being able to provide for yourself and your loved ones. One option is to forget about supporting yourself and throw caution to the wind and take the risk of putting all your time and energy into succeeding in your career. For me the risk of only focusing on writing and directing to achieve success in my career was too big and instead I chose to support myself by working in another facet of the film industry. While at the same time using my free time to work towards my career “success” goal. I remember at times being frustrated by my choice. I had lunch with a film colleague who told me there is no reward without risk and that I should quit my support job. I didn’t take her advice but I think it is important to mention that is always an option. My choice wasn’t an easy choice to make but at the end of the day the risk of committing myself only to success was too big and supporting myself was more important. Again, I think that is an individual question everyone must answer for themselves. Some people are in a financial position to only focus on success and therefore the risk is not too great to them. When it came time to make my first feature film FIRST LOVE, I think my strategy paid off. Having a support job allowed me to take earned time off to shoot my film. I also was able to use the resources and contacts from my industry job to help me get my film made. I am not sure if I would have been able to succeed in my making my film without taking the support job. So in some ways not taking the risk of only focusing on my career goal ended up helping me to achieve my career goal. I actually have never thought of it in this way and often question my choice to have a support job all those years but now looking back on it I am grateful for my decision. One more note; these risk/reward decisions never end. As you advance in your career they will play out over and over again. I think the best way to deal with them is to take each decision on its own accord and say what is best for me at this time. You should certainly ask colleagues and friends for advice but at the end of the day it is your life and your career, and no one knows you better than yourself. Only you can make a decision on what is best for you and your career and what risks you are willing to take to achieve your set goal.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a writer and director working in film. My first feature film that I wrote and directed and helped produce is called First Love and it is out now to watch on Amazon and other streaming platforms. I am also working on a few new projects that I am excited for and hope to get off the ground in 2021. One of them is a romantic comedy that is a throwback to the screwball comedies of the 30’s and 40’s. So it has a real odd to say freshness that I don’t think think folks are doing right now. I think a lot of the industry has turned toward making statement films but I really want to try to make a film that people can watch and enjoy and escape from the world for a second but not totally escape! I won’t let them off that easy. Speaking of not so easy, making films as a profession is a bear! I mean it is a lot of fun but you really have to be made of steel and then you can enjoy those fun moments when they come because it is worth the challenge. Overcoming challenges are not easy. I think the best way to do it is to fight. Don’t listen to the voices. You are your own best judge and if you feel like if you have something to give to this world creatively you need to fight to get your voice heard. That has been a major lesson I have learned along this path. To cut the noise and plow forward. I think you need to pick a few folks that you can trust to tell you what you are doing has value but also in today’s day and age there is so much noise and so many other brands and creatives who are doing something. Whether similar or not it gets in your head. So just stay focused and be true to yourself and your voice. I think that has been a key to my success thus far and is what has led me going forward is knowing I have my own voice and my own story to tell. That there is no one else that can say the thing that I want to say and in the way I say it. Once you know that about yourself there is a lot of confidence you can use to keep going. In my case I think my brand and story is a genuine one. When you watch my feature First Love you will feel the sincerity and love that the film has. It may be hard to deal with but it is coming from a truthful place and I think that is something I do better than anyone else.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Because I live in Echo Park and getting around Los Angeles is not fun especially if you want to go out and have some drinks I would most likely keep it local. I think there is plenty to see and do in my corner of Los Angeles and you can (big shocker) walk! I really like coffee and there are tons of great coffee spots in my area so I would make sure to take my friend to each one. I love Dayglow coffee on Sunset. I know there is another location too, but the one I go to is in Silver Lake. While there I would walk around the area. Sunset Junction has lots of shops and restaurants and places for good coffee! And Silver Lake Reservoir is really lovely to walk around. Going east on Sunset I would take them to Echo Park and all my favorite places. First off would be the best bookstore and all around coolest hangout in Los Angeles, Stories Books & Cafe. Directly across the street is a great affordable Mexican restaurant that has outdoor seating called Rodeo Mexican Grill. That would be a great place for lunch! Definitely would grab a beer or a glass of wine after lunch at the mellow bar with great records El Prado and then continue the festivities at the super bar and restaurant Semi Tropic which has great cocktails, friendly staff and good food. When Covid ends (I hope soon) I would go to a concert at The Echo or Echoplex. After the show I would hit up Little Joy for a late night drink and end the night with donuts at Ms Donut which opens at midnight and you can get hot donuts and who doesn’t love freshly baked donuts at midnight! Other great spots to bring my best friend during the week would be: Echo Park Lake, Murray’s Bagels in Silver Lake, Lil Dom’s in Los Feliz, Proof Bakery in Atwater Village, Griffith Park and the Observatory. LACMA, and movies at the New Beverly, the Egyptian and Arclight Hollywood.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
The Shoutout must go to my parents Louise and Marc! Many have shouted out their parents and for good reason. In my previous answerI mentioned needing a support network in order to dive into a filmmaking career and there is no way I could have taken the risks I did without my parents support.
Other: First Love on Amazon: http://bit.ly/FirstLove_on_Amazon First Love on IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5155360/?ref_=pro_tt_visitcons
Tibrina Hobson (set photos from First Love)