Throughout his professional journey, Mousa Ghodratifard learned that in addition to having skills and education, building industry connections is crucial to progressing in the film and television business – a skill he perfected during his time at Toronto Film School.
The 2013 Film Production graduate began his career path in his native Iran, then to Turkey and later to Canada to pursue honing a craft fuelled by a love of film and television and guided along the way through the power of networking.
“Switching countries and trying to build your connections base is a long journey. A lot of students miss that part,” said Ghodratifard. “Yes, you come to learn the technical and creative skills to make movies, but making connections is also important.”
The strategy has paid off; Ghodratifard has worked in various roles on a notable list of film and television shows since graduation. These include films Shazam, It Chapter Two and The Christmas Chronicles and television programs The Umbrella Academy, American Gods and The Boys.
Most recently, Ghodratifard – or “Mo” as he’s known on set – wrapped up a packed schedule that included assistant directing season 2 and 3 of the popular Apple+ television show See, starring Jason Momoa, and a comedy television pilot in Toronto.
He was also on the assistant directors’ team for the thriller Awake, starring Jennifer Jason-Leigh and Gina Rodriguez, which premiered on June 9 on Netflix.
“We worked hard to create that film…in the cold weather or the rain while trying to film in the streets and working with Covid restrictions,” he said.
Ghodratifard earned a bachelor of fine arts in directing and theatrical production in Tehran. His career began in 1998, taking on roles as an actor, assistant director, camera assistant and producer for both TV and film.
“I worked as a production assistant for two months, then I met a producer and I got an offer to direct small budget, unscripted shows,” said the 44-year-old, reflecting on how that meeting helped his progression. “I moved up to scripted shows which was great seeing yourself move up the ladder.”
In 2000, his career path took him to Turkey, where he established his own production company, Anil Film, in 2003 and completed further studies in film and TV in 2005.
Ghodratifard was born and raised in Tabriz, Iran, and can remember the impression film and television made in his young life through his secret habit of sneaking TV time late at night when the rest of his family was sleeping.
“We had one small, black and white TV. I would get out of my room and I would turn on the TV and put my blanket over it so I wouldn’t be discovered,” he said, amazed that he still huddles underneath covered monitors in adulthood to review scenes on set.
Equally fascinating were the TV hosts who would offer commentary on the films he viewed well into the sleepy hours of the night. He marvelled at how they would break down pivotal scenes from each film with insightful commentary.
“It was incredible how they talked about the story and how they studied and how they watched a film,” he recalled. “That hooked me in.”