Farhad Z is simply beautiful. After coming across some of his work via blogs and discovering he was not only a model but a film maker, I thought it would be cool to get a little insight into this artist, director and model.
Me: Would you like to share a few things about yourself?
Farhad: Sure, I’m an Iranian-American filmmaker (born in Mt. Kisco, NY, raised in NJ) living in the great city of New York for the past 8 years. Although I’m a filmmaker by trade (studied at Columbia University), I’ve been working in the distribution end of the film industry for the past 5 years.
Me: What have been your biggest influences?
Farhad: My biggest influences cinematically definitely lie in the European avanta-guarde movements of the late 60s and 70s. And although I grew up — like so many young Americans — on awful but irresistable television programs of the 80s and 90s, when I went to make my own films they never resembled what I had consumed. So my favorite directors in no particular order are: Jean Luc-Godard, Alain Resnais, Luis Bunuel, Maya Deren (the pioneer of experimental cinema in America), Roman Polanski (pre 1980), Ingmar Bergman and Michaelangelo Antonioni.
Me: You went to Columbia in New York. Best memories?
Farhad: My years at Columbia University were a bit hit and miss to be honest. While I did learn under some amazing professors who were working in the business, I felt the film program itself was a bit too conventional for me (and too pricey LOL!)
Me: You made a movie about the entertainer Googoosh, an incredible woman. What attracted you to her story and why was it important to make this film for you?
Farhad: Well, as an Iranian-American who lived in Iran for a short time in the 70s — Googoosh was an amazing, omnipresent talent. Her silence for more than 20 years had captivated all of us living in different regions of the world in exile — so, I thought making a film about her and about happened in post-colonial Iran was a great way to tackle issues that had preplexed me all my life.
Me: What film projects are you working on currently?
Farhad: Currently, I have taken a hiatus from filmmaking. I financed all of my own projects ever since I started in film and it has been a tremendous financial burden. I hope to return soon.
Me: How did you get into modeling?
Farhad: Well, a few years ago I was approached by a great NYC-based photographer who asked me to some fitness modelling. This was in 2006 — and after I did that project I continued to get requests. So this year I joined Model Mayhem in effort to turn it into something creative as well as a way to make some money.
Me: What is the most enjoyable aspect of modeling for you?
Farhad: The most enjoyable aspect of modeling has to be collaborating with the photographers to create something interesting and thought-provoking (and even fun). So far I’ve had many interesting experiences.
Me: What has been your favorite shoot to date?
Farhad: I’ve had many great shoots… but one of the most memorable was with a German photographer who came to NYC to shoot me (or so he claimed… 😉 ) We came up with an interesting narrative involving a wanderer and a laundryroom. Those are some of my favorite photos.
Me: Was the photographer Felix Drobek?
Farhad: Yes, Felix Drobek took the laundry pics, and they remain among my favorites. He was also a joy to work with (funny and professional).
Farhad: There are many photographers but ManRay is the one that stands out for me.
Me: What new shoots do you have coming out soon?
Farhad: I have a few shoots coming up (some even have me clothed believe it or not! LOL… there’s an interesting Helmut Newton-inspired shoot in 2009 that I will let you know more about as soon as I know.
Me: What are the things you love most about living in New York? And, do you have any special places you’d recommend a visitor to the city should go see/do/eat?
Farhad: Well, I’m still very much in love with NYC (although Paris ranks up there as well). I guess what I love most is the energy the flow through the streets here. There’s never a dull moment and everything is within reach.
Me: Finally, what book have you given as a gift the most often?
Well, one of my favorite reads is Lolita by Nabokov (I also like Crash by JG Ballard). But Lolita reamins the one novel I recommend the most. I also love existentialist literature (Sartre, Camus, Dostoevsky)
Many, many thanks Farhad for responding to my questions. You do the most beautiful work in photos and film and I am so looking forward to the Helmut Newton inspired shoot!