Entertainment Renaissance Man Majid Koudmani Showed Us His World
For those of us not directly involved in the entertainment industry, movies and television seem very simple. We become immersed in the story being told and forget that these stories require hundreds and hundreds of hours of work before they can be seen by an audience.
From writing to shooting to acting to editing, making enjoyable entertainment requires incredible skill every step of the way.
And while many people limit themselves to only one aspect of filmmaking, our guest expert, Majid Koudmani, spent his career exploring as many different aspects of the process as possible.
As a young man, Koudmani started out as a humble Production Assistant (PA) for CBC, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Generally speaking, a PA handles the small tasks required for a show to keep running smoothly.
A Move to Tinseltown
For Koudmani, this small taste of the television and film industry only enticed him to make it his life’s work.
He moved to Los Angeles and found work with major production companies, including Donners’ Company and De Line Pictures. While there, he helped develop scripts for major motion pictures, learning invaluable lessons along the way.
Around this time, Koudmani worked with Warner Bros. Marketing, immersing himself in yet another aspect of entertainment.
Soon after he worked with major distribution company Entertainment One and Global Artists Agency.
Koudmani even worked with a music label, Monstercat, in his native Canada, helping to shop music around to production studios.
As you can probably tell by now, Koudmani is determined to understand as many different areas of entertainment as he can, making him a kind of modern-day Renaissance man, at least when it comes to content creation.
Given his wide range of experience in the industry, we were excited to speak with Koudmani to help get a better understanding of what makes for great entertainment. And we’re very excited to share this discussion with you, our readers.
With that, let’s jump into our conversation with Majid Koudmani, on the many ins and outs of entertainment today.
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The Evolution of a Story
Whether it’s an inspiring feature-length film or a mid-run episode of a popular television series, it all starts with a script.
As any film major can tell you, there’s a wealth of theory and analysis surrounding the question of what makes for a good script.
But ultimately, there’s no substitute for actual experience in the field.
During his time with Warner Bros., Koudmani was dropped into the deep end of script development. In a matter of weeks, he was reading and critiquing scripts for major movies set for release in the next couple of years.
Koudmani wasn’t intimidated in the least. Instead, he saw it as an excellent opportunity to contribute to the studio’s current projects.
“The chance to read and comment on scripts being done by production companies with WB was unbelievable. It both taught me a lot and was encouraging to know that I could do it well.”
It was a valuable introduction to a key stage of pre-production, and he has used that experience to inform how he approaches scripts of his own.
How to Tackle a Script
Koudmani has written a number of scripts, and recently he’s been heavily involved with the writing and production of an animated series called The Adventures of Monstercat, which portrays the label’s signed artists as fun cartoon characters.
We were curious as to how Koudmani tends to start his scripts. Which part comes first? A specific image? An outline of scenes?
“For myself, I have always found it best to come at a script from the perspective of character. Good characters will get an audience to become invested in the movie. They’re also your best tool for communicating a theme. Without being emotionally connected to the journey of a character, the movie is bound to feel empty.”
This sentiment has been shared by some of the top names in the entertainment industry. Crafting characters first is an effective way to lay a base for the story.
When you have strong characters, their natural personalities and motivations can then drive the story and the script itself.
Koudmani was also fast to express the importance of settling on an emotional core to the story, based around a very specific theme.
“I always find it good to go identify the theme or emotion that you want the movie to elicit and then go through the characters’ history and motivation to make sure their arc will be complete and satisfying.”
Keeping tabs on how a particular story will affect audiences, both emotionally and in terms of a satisfying movie watching experience, has helped Koudmani create powerful scripts that don’t get lost in their own intricacies.
On the Set
But screenwriting and script development is all just part of the pre-production phase. The next major step of filmmaking is the production itself.
Koudmani cut his teeth working on the set of the 2017 film, The Mountain Between Us, directed by Hany Abu-Hassad.
The experience proved to be incredibly valuable in many different ways, not the least of which was an introduction to the wonderful things that can happen when a crew works well together.
“Working on The Mountain Between Us was satisfying thanks to the people with whom I worked. It doesn’t happen all the time, but the crew really fit together. That kind of cohesiveness is a credit to those at the top for organizing the shoot so well and for building an inviting environment.”
For Koudmani, working with a crew that worked so well together opened a door into a side of filmmaking he just hadn’t seen before, at least not in any real detail.
When a crew is all on the same page, it gives everyone on set the opportunity to experience human connection while working, a connection that can then be translated to what’s happening onscreen.
It takes many individuals years to work up to the directing chair, but Koudmani made it there in no time.
He quickly found his way to a directing role on personal projects. It offered the chance to utilize his wide range of experiences both on and off the set.
Ultimately, the director is responsible for making sure that dozens of different elements come together to create a satisfying and cohesive finished product.
And when a project only has a limited budget to work with, that can be much more difficult than it sounds.
“I really find it satisfying to be involved in the directing of projects. The capacity to work with actors is also remarkably fulfilling in that you get to fully explore a character, their motivations, and their personal history. It becomes easy to see elements of yourself in the story and reevaluate how you see yourself.”
And this exercise of gaining a different perspective of yourself as a creative professional can, in turn, inform how one approaches future projects and ideas.
Having a deep appreciation for music, Koudmani also spent time coordinating movie soundtracks between labels and production companies.
“Working with soundtracks gave me a whole new appreciation of the music industry. Music is definitely one of the most important aspects of a film. And working with the artists who composed the music showed me the importance of involving them in the filmmaking process.”
A few production companies could even stand to learn something from Koudmani’s methods.
Not involving musicians in the process of editing a piece of music into a film means that editors and directors miss out on the insights those musicians could have offered, making the piece even more powerful.
An Urge to Create
And while Koudmani has spent his career exploring many different aspects of filming, each with its own complexities and nuances, all of his efforts come from a very simple urge to create.
Koudmani wants to tell stories, stories that matter and can positively affect audiences around the world.
“I like to think that most everyone gets into the industry for the chance to create stories that are meant to make people think about the human condition or inspire others. When working in development you have the opportunity to draw from and consider the emotions that make us who we are.”
This powerful sentiment has real-world ramifications, especially in an age when entertainment, and specifically movies, have a significant impact on the world around us.
Each movie, each song, is an opportunity to re-examine why we do the things we do, the things that make us feel inspired, angry, hopeful, or excited.
If this brief glimpse into filmmaking has inspired you to learn more about the entertainment industry and the work that goes into it, then we encourage you to follow Koudmani’s lead and explore these aspects for yourself.
If you would like to become an entertainment industry professional yourself, you may want to look into local educational institutions that offer programs specific to film production.
Soon enough, you could be among those who pour their time and their hearts into making artistic work that truly means something to its audience.
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Majid Koudmani is an entertainment creative and director’s assistant who works with a variety of outlets.
Links to Koudmani and his work can be found here:
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