UCLA Extension

Instructor Interview – Navid Sinaki

Get to know Entertainment Studies instructor Navid Sinaki! Navid is a returning instructor who will be teaching Directing Workshop I: Composition and Movement in Fall 2019. He is an experimental filmmaker and artist whose works have screened at museums and art houses around the world, including Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Lincoln Center, British Film Institute, REDCAT, and Cineteca Nacional in Mexico.

We sat down with Navid and asked him 5 questions to get to know more about him and his course.

What do you enjoy most about teaching for Entertainment Studies?
I enjoy teaching for Entertainment Studies because the students are already storytellers. They’ve spent enough time on one side of the looking glass watching films and are ready to step through.

duchamp’s bride, 2014

What do you hope students get out of your course?
I hope students learn a very important secret about directing: every director has a unique style. You don’t need to yell through a bullhorn or wear a backwards baseball cap. Tailor your directing style to your personality and have fun with it.

My course begins with the building blocks: composing objects and spaces, assembling one shot with another. Next, we take on introducing characters and conflict. But above all else, students will leave with a body of work they can review and learn from.

What is one thing you want students to know before they walk into your class?
Filmmaking is a combination of discovery and intuition. Students should know they will be making more films in my class than they might have expected: one project a week. You need to watch your work in a room with other people in order to become a better filmmaker. There is no purer way to fine-tune your intuition as a director than by experiencing how others experience your work. And everyone is vulnerable when showing their films. That too makes filmmaking all the more meaningful.

the glass mouth, 2015

What are you watching or listening to these days that you are enjoying?
You Must Remember This for podcasts, Slowdive for music. Turner Classic Movies movies most days. (Barbara Stanwyck in BABYFACE is scandalous.) Seinfeld episodes: take two before bed.

What’s the best piece of advice you would give to someone aspiring to break into your field?
Three words: start right now. Pull out your phone and film one moment and try placing it next to another. Switch the arrangement. Try filming from a different angle. What do you notice? Keep going. The more films you make, the sooner you’ll learn what makes you remarkably unique as a storyteller. Above all else, this will be your winning ticket.

And some practical advice: be mindful when editing on a blink.