“Leadership is not about the role, it’s more about the goal and achieving that goal with your team together” — Farnaz Samiinia
Farnaz Samiinia is an incredibly talented and ambitious woman who works in the post production arena of film & television production. She is knowledgeable and highly skilled in all of the stages of bringing a film to life from the innovative initial concept through development to final production, post, and release. I have had the honor of getting to know Farnaz over the past several years and greatly admire her drive, tenacity and positivity as a female leader in a world that is largely dominated by men. I am grateful that Farnaz took the time to share a few of her thoughts on how her unique background and experience has taught her such valuable lessons in life.
Amy Powell: Is there one piece of advice that you wish your 9 year old self would give you today that would make an impact on your career?
Farnaz Samiinia: Follow your heart and be yourself. Stay true to your feelings. Don’t try to please other people. Listen to your inner voice. There is a voice inside all of us that knows what’s good and what’s bad for us. If you listen very carefully you will find that voice and that voice will help you to stay true to yourself.
Amy: Was there a time you messed up and felt like you’d failed? how did you bounce back?
Farnaz: Many times! And I still do. It’s a part of life and growing up. I’ve learned over the years, in order to be successful, not only you need to grow a thick skin but also can’t give up. It simply is not an option.
For instance, when I was shooting my first independent feature film, I was beyond excited. I honestly thought this project would put me on the map. I was young and naïve. I thought I got what it takes to get where I want to be, and I still do think that way, but now I know things won’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of experience, maturity, determination, and hard work to get where you want to end up. Also considering that I am an immigrant and a part of a minority group doesn’t retally help me to get where I want to be faster. But these “obstacles” won’t stop me from achieving my goals because without my goals, there is no reason to live. The goals are the reasons why we wake up every day and look forward to figuring out our next steps towards achieving our goals.
Amy: How did you learn to embrace risk-taking?
Farnaz: My entire life has been all about “risk-taking.” I’m Persian. I was born in Tehran, Iran. I grew up in Germany, Cologne. And now I’m here in US, California. I’ve been almost all over the world and even witnessed a war as a child. But I never felt threatened by the war because in my imagination, I always saw bombs as a part of crazy fireworks that adult liked to play.
And while growing up, my family moved from one country to another in the search of a better life for us kids but it wasn’t that easy. Starting all over again in a new country, learning a new language again, finding new friends again, and adapting to a new culture again, all those experiences made me who I am today — a very strong woman who’s simply not afraid to take risks.
Amy: What’s the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned and how has it proven invaluable?
Farnaz: I worked at a movie studio for 11 years. I myself never got a chance to get to a leadership position while working there, but by observing a good leader, I’ve learned a true success comes only when you have a team that’s 100% behind you and respects you. And you need to respect them as well. It’s all about trusting your team and having your team to trust you and of course making them feel you’re working as hard as they do. Leadership is not about the “role,” it’s more about the goal and achieving that goal with your team together.
Amy: What is the most fun part of your job?
Farnaz: Well, I’m a filmmaker. And I think if I could go back and choose again, I most likely will choose being a filmmaker again.
I’m a storyteller. I love to create stories that are fun, entertaining, and meaningful. I love to create this world where I become the “God of my own world.” I can create and control whatever I want. And finally turning that world into reality and sharing it with an audience, it’s the most amazing feeling in the world. It’s like giving “birth” to a child. And when you start with your next project, it happens all over again.
Farnaz Samiinia is a filmmaker, born in Iran/Tehran, raised in Cologne/Germany. She immigrated to the United States in the summer 1996. A graduate of Cal. State Long Beach with a B.A. in Film Production. She worked on numerous projects as an independent filmmaker and broaden her horizons further by working in Post at Sony Pictures Studios for 11 years.