Media Makers Profile: Nerris Nassiri
"Every day social media platforms push one thing above all: video content. Digital content, short form video: these are the future of storytelling."
Title: Host & Creative Content Director
How long: 1 year
Education: UCLA School of Theater, Film, & Television (BA + 1 year of MFA)
I was raised in Las Vegas for the earlier parts of my childhood. I wish I could say the bright lights and pretty colors of the strip was what inspired me to be a filmmaker, but it wasn't until I moved to Oxnard, California for the better half of my teenage years that I truly understood my love for storytelling. I started doing theatre, composing music, playing with video cameras, anything that had to do with telling a story. I was accepted to UCLA's film program, which prides itself on being the "school of storytellers" - this resonated with me. I loved making short films but never knew where to screen them or how to get them in front of people.
After graduating, I learned the power of the internet and social media; while there are many negative aspects to social media, I found many ways to be a positive force in it. At one point, I was working for a company called The Mighty and made suicide prevention documentary shorts for YouTube and Facebook - on average, these short films were being seen by over 60,000,000 people per month. Every day we would see dozens of comments from people saying things like "this video really helped me feel less alone - love from Ireland" or "this saved my life. Thank you from Japan." This is the power of digital storytelling: 3-minute long videos on Facebook that can save lives and helped people feel less alone. Imagine the possibilities we can expand from beyond just mental health! We have platforms to tell stories that anyone can see! This is what I'm most excited about. Every day social media platforms push one thing above all: video content. Digital content, short form video: these are the future of storytelling.
When I finished with The Mighty I became a host and creative content director for Aputure, a company that makes studio-grade film equipment affordable for indie filmmakers. I love working for a company that empowers people to tell their story, no matter the budget. On any given day, I might be teaching cinematography & lighting techniques in front of the camera, making content for Facebook and Instagram, studying the latest trends in the ever-changing algorithm, shooting b-roll and crewing on sets with names like Snoop Dogg or Meghan Trainor or Diplo, or traveling and producing filmmaking workshops and masterclasses. It's truly a jack-of-all-trades job that requires me to be both technically and creatively savvy: as the world of digital content production becomes more and more present, I find having multiple skill sets is a must.
Advice for content creators:
Know what you stand for and pursue it to no end. Learn as much about filmmaking, cinematography, editing, lighting, and writing as you can. The industry is getting more and more saturated; there are more opportunities than ever before, but at the same time, the competition has never been so tight. The people who are standing out are the go-getter types with extremely distinct voices. In many cases, it's not enough to just be a big-picture visionary and it's not enough to just be a detail-oriented technician: you have to be some kind of hybrid of the two, and you have to chase it with all you've got. Don't wait for someone to make your film happen - if you want to make a documentary about immigrants, you have to become a scholar on the culture, find people to interview, plan the interview, learn how to operate a camera, know how to light skin tones, run audio, write the interview questions, and edit it well. Equipment has never been so affordable: go out and make your project happen!
More and more we're aware of the need for representation in the media. We need voices from people of color, immigrants, LGTBQ, women, Muslims and more. It's never been a better time to be a minority in the industry - it saddens me to say it's taken this long, but more than ever we NEED trailblazers from all walks of life to step forward and be a positive force of change. The power of seeing someone who looks like you on a screen in a positive light cannot be understated.
Links to work:
Hosting content (Writer/Producer):
Breaking the Rules of Filmmaking: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fu6sSgM9jxs
Math and Cinematography: https://youtu.be/a8g3dC1bHNM
Viral film content for The Mighty (Director/Producer):