Karotik Galstyan (BAB ’20) Finds Inspiration in Filmmaking
Contributed by Karotik Galstyan (BAB ’20)
Discovering Passion for Filmmaking and Directing
I have always been fond of storytelling and means of artistic expression, but when I was a kid, I never really understood what it was that I wanted to be or do when I grew up. I had no idea how my favorite films and animations were made and, at that age, I could not dream of becoming a filmmaker myself. So, instead, as a child, I would draw wildlife animals and watch a lot of cartoons and martial arts movies. Later on, through years, I discovered many of the masterpieces of literature, music, theater and cinema, all of which developed my artistic taste and made me aware of how powerful different means of storytelling could be and I began to regard cinema as the amalgamation of all the incredible art forms and fell in love with it.
It was only after I returned from the army that I decided to become a film director. However, instead of changing my major from Business Administration to English and Communications, I combined university studies with pursuing my passion. For instance, when I was studying accounting, I was also directing A Streetcar Named Desire. I have been fortunate enough to have had mentors like Mariam Mikhaylova, Melissa Brown, Zareh Tjeknavorian, Garine Palandjian, Lilianna Edilyan, Hilda Grigorian and many others from AUA to inspire, support and believe in me throughout my undertakings.
Directing ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’
Initially, I just wanted to act in a play, so I approached Ms. Melissa Brown with a request to stage anything, as she had experienced staging and directing Saroyan’s The Time of Your Life at AUA a year earlier. She was enthusiastic about the idea, however, her schedule would not allow a long-term commitment to the project, so instead, she encouraged me to direct something myself. At first, I was hesitant about that, then I found myself infected by the idea and began the 10-month memorable journey of producing A Streetcar Named Desire.
Even though it was generally a demanding experience, there were two main challenges that we had to face. First, we didn’t have enough budget to realize the vision that I had for the project. From the technical perspective, we needed proper lighting and sound systems in the Large Auditorium along with costumes, props and furniture. Thanks to the efforts of AUA’s Development Office, we were lucky enough to be noticed and honored by an anonymous donor whose contribution made a huge difference as we received the necessary funding for the play.
The second big challenge was to properly balance studies and jobs with the project. Rehearsals were held two-three times every week in the evenings and lasted sometimes up to three hours and it required a lot of resilience, energy and dedication from everyone to deliver their best every day. Fortunately, the team I had was the best you could ask for and I think the success of the performance proved my point.
‘Red Apple’ Film Coming Soon
Red Apple is my debut film completed recently. In the summer of 2019, I attended three months of dramatic writing courses taught by screenwriter and producer Armen Grigoryan. He and some of his colleagues have a vision for developing a generation of Armenian filmmakers with the promise of elevating Armenian cinema to world standards in the near future. Red Apple happens to be the first film in this undertaking. It is a short film that I have written and directed. Being my first professional project, it was incredibly challenging and stressful. Almost everyone involved in the project was masters of their craft and if I hadn’t had the focus and the vision, I would have been intimidated by my lack of experience. However, the overall production went very smoothly and now the film is ready and we are about to start sending it to different international film festivals.