Meet Nazar Melconian, Wedding Cinematographer

Published on website: June 10, 2011
Categories: Film Capabilities , Products , Super 8mm , Wedding , The StoryBoard Blog
Nazar Melconian
Nazar Melconian

Of Armenian heritage, born in Baghdad raised in the UK and Canada.  Now making a living between Toronto, Canada and soon San Francisco, California. After university I spent a year working as a junior art director for a small agency producing billboard, magazine and corporate press campaigns in Sydney, Australia. Truthfully it was a means to afford travel and experience…shortly there-after I left for Asia and Europe travelling with backpack. Lover of life, people, music, staying fit with Muay Thai Kickboxing, making short films, eating Pho & Thai food!

I make retro-chic super 8mm fine art wedding+lifestyle films at the company I cofounded MIMMO & NAZ INC.

Where are you located?

Toronto is home, but i am beyond lucky to have my clients find me from all over the world!

How did you get your start filming weddings?

I never saw the wedding industry as the right fit for what I was doing creatively. I thought I would be in advertising or film-making. Prior to my pursuits in anything creative, I was law school bound as an English Literature major. After graduation I spent a couple of years traveling all over the world , extensively through Europe, Asia and settling in Sydney, Australia. While there, I worked for an advertising agency as a Junior Art Director and produced billboard ads, and magazine/print advertisements. It was when I came back to Toronto, Canada as best man for my best friend’s wedding where I met Mimmo, the “photography” part of MIMMO & NAZ. Part of my speech at my friend’s wedding was a film presentation that looked back at their life story both as individuals and as a couple. It was a huge success and a bit of an eye opener for me. Mimmo and I discussed photography, cinema and exchanged stories about our working lives. We both saw an opportunity, he was a photographer in the wedding industry and I was a filmmaker and someone who was about to shop his portfolio around. We launched MIMMO & NAZ, where coffee shops and couple’s homes were our offices the first year. But we believed in each other’s work and so did every one of our clients. It was difficult the first two years; we started from nothing, just an idea and a lot of determination. The industry has changed greatly since that time. Today everything from equipment accessibility, education, to social networks, to even general quality of creative is at a premium and competitive. Early on Super 8mm film was a hard sell to a marketplace that cringed at the very thought of wedding videos.

Did you have any formal training in filmmaking?

I went back to my alma mater and took film, animation, still photography, printing and cinema theory classes in their continuing education program.   I learned the tools.  I got to actually hold film, hand process the film, cut, splice both super 8mm and 16mm Kodak films.  I shot on Bolexs, Nizzo’s and Arri…I got to sit-in on the Kodak cinematographer’s series where filmmakers, specifically DP’s from all over would come in monthly and do a full day presentation on their works.  They would talk about their decisions on lenses, film stock, lighting, blocking working with directors.

The best education was, and still is, travel & lots and lots of movies.  I have all of Criterion’s DVD collections and am specifically in love with Mexican, Spanish, and French (New Wave more so) cinema.  My collection of DVD’s to be quite honest cost more than some people’s cars.

What’s your creative style or vision for wedding cinematography?

I have always been romantic yet incredibly pragmatic and simple in my approach and style.  I love weddings. I really do have the best job in the world from the perspective that I am a part of two people’s most precious time together as they embark on their new life! I feel honored to be invited (and the way I shoot I feel like a guest and not some guy with a camera) at this moment in their entire family’s life. I have teared-up, smiled, laughed and shared so many moments over the years with my clients. It’s love and it’s the power of their love that I try to connect to on every job.

What role does film play in achieving that for you and what made you choose the super 8mm format?

Why I chose to work solely with super 8mm or 16mm film is because the film is organic, its intrinsic flaws are as much a part of its draw and value to me. It’s certainly a medium in my eyes that allows me to express and connect to the human heart. HD video is too sharp, too clean and too visceral. It almost instantly disconnects me from the emotion of what I am seeing or hearing. There is a psychology to film, to specifically super 8mm film, and it resonates with people’s memories and connection to family and their past. What’s interesting is that even with the younger group of couples getting married who have no history or knowledge of super 8, the aesthetic still makes this memory-sensory connection. It’s full of character, charm and just makes a lot of sense to both my clients and myself. It’s more a fine art piece that’s truthful, emotional and closest to how we remember experiencing a moment in our lives!

What do you think draws your clients?

I am very passionate about my work, about film and the notion of love and connection with every interaction I have with people getting married.  Its connecting to your audience and letting story dictate medium of choice, lenses, film stocks, blocking of a shot everything must have a direct purpose in serving the story and in weddings more so the feeling I am attempting to elicit from my audience.  I need to connect to my clients in the way I approach life (whether it be food, music, people, travel) to make what I do feel real, honest and playful! I pretty much fall in love with all of my brides and admire each of their husbands and all of their families that entrust me to document their day. Pure and simple, I feel blessed with what I do every day and that shows in how I shoot, approach their day and actually piece the film together.  I do feel I bring a keen eye and sense of romance with none of the cheese or self-indulgences that one with a camera could bring...the music choices I make and how I edit my stories…they flicker in and out like one’s own sweet life memories.

How do they respond when they receive their final films?

Clients tend to call in the middle of the night crying (happy kind) or it was emailing me when I don’t answer the call letting me know that it’s the best decision!  The last two years have been exceptional and moving because clients are going out of their way with “thank you” gifts and letters of love.  Long lasting friendships have come about from a lot of these weddings.  This Thursday I am invited for dinner with a couple who hired me to document their wedding last year in Genoa, Italy.  I feel lucky.  I have one Californian couple, both lawyers who met in LA courts, get married in Palm Springs. Her father was under the weather on the wedding night such that he was unable to have that father & daughter dance.  I woke that morning and saw her teary by the foot of the stairs to the Colony Palms and I knew in my heart exactly what to do.  I told her the next morning, before my flight back to Toronto, to have her dad and herself put on their wedding dress & tux and to meet us 6am on Santa Monica Pier where I wanted them to have THEIR moment father & daughter dance.I have this special footage as one of the vimeo samples in this article.  She wrote me how she will never forget this gift.

Do you have a favorite stock to shoot with?

The major change has been the KODAK VISION3 film stocks.  The 7213 specifically but also the 7219 provide a tight grain structure and latitude that I have so much to work with – especially shooting on the East Coast where the sunlight is far from everyday…nothing beats natural light.  It’s exciting to not be getting noise on a stock that otherwise feels like something rated at less than 200 ASA!!!  Blown away by the stock advancements, I pray Kodak keeps making Super 8mm.   I love the grains and contrast in Tri-X which I especially took advantage of on my California road-trip vacation film which I scanned in HD which you can see here:

What postproduction path do you follow: What facility do you use for the transfer? Do you scan at HD or other resolution for the editing portion of your projects? On what system do you edit the films?

I use two labs for processing:  Exclusive for the Reversal stock Tri-X 7266, the Ektachrome 7285 and Niagara Custom Film for all my Negative films:  Vision 3 200T 7213, and Vision 3 500T 7219.  Once the film reel is in hand I am now doing all of my own scans in-house!  This is a major change that will afford my clients, and myself as the creative, better control on color, resolution and general quality.  I am doing Frame by Frame scanning with HD capabilities!  All my editing is done on Macs running Final Cut Pro.

How has your work evolved over your career? Have advancements in technology - for example, film stocks, lenses, camera mounts, etc. - changed the way you shoot a project?

Commercial and music video houses are now approaching me to direct productions originating entirely on super 8mm/16mm or specifically they want the emotional feel I can bring to story and I hope this part of my career takes off in the coming years.  I am hopeful!  My ultimate goal is to direct films/music videos/commercials.  I have written two scripts and am going to produce the short form.

I recently was approached by Renata Kaveh a top 5 Canadian Female Fashion photographer to shoot, direct, music produce and edit a fashion film – my influences - Hitchcock, Guy Bourdin & David Lynch.  Here is that fashion film:

See More
Telephone: +1(416) 319-7240
Facebook: Nazar Melconian

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