We caught up with our friend and alum Amin Esmaeilipour who joined us from Singapore. Amin is a gifted actor, writer, painter and photographer with a huge amount of potential. We wanted to see how life has changed since we last saw him on HI.
Who is Amin Esmaeilipour? Tell us about yourself.
I am 19 years old; I was born and raised in Singapore. I am of Iranian descent. I am an actor, writer, painter and Photographer.
What drove you from your hometown to come to Los Angeles? You’ve traveled a great distance. What did you expect to find?
Looking back at the beginning in 2015 when I visited Iran for the first time in my life I spent a year and a half studying there. Until that time, I never really thought I would be an actor or a writer let alone both. But one day during my time over there I realized, that I am getting older and by default have more independents and control of my life. I knew I needed to have a purpose, something that made me get up in the morning, see beyond what I thought was possible. So I began to study screenplay writing and went on to write my first screenplay and learning acting through various resources at the time. Naturally being a teenager very few around me really thought anything about what I was doing amounting to much. But deep down I knew there was more in me, that this ‘purpose’ could unlock doors to places I never knew existed. I thought “why not me?” When I came back to Singapore from my trip, I had a clear vision of where I wanted to be and worked around the clock getting there, which led me to an almost miraculous opportunity though the HI program to come to Los Angeles. I expected to learn more about myself as well as be pointed in the right direction on how I can prepare myself to be able to make it as an actor and writer.
What are some things that you took with you after the HI program and applied to your career?
The HI program was the beginning of the next stage of my life, it brought with it new habits, new ways at looking at situations, both in my art and in daily life. It also was in a way a celebration for me to make a concrete step to come to the HI program. Once there it validated the steps I had been taking in my life while adding different dimensions to it. It influenced my career in many ways such as the need to add more content (in my case writing more screenplays and a book), diversifying the acting techniques and the mindset to never stop working on oneself just to name a few. In general it was a game changer for me as I began to add more structure and discipline to the way I approached my career.
You came to LA as a newer actor, and you’re also a writer. Has the acting training helped you with your writing in terms of character development, story arcs…etc? Now that you can envision it from the actor’s point of view.
Acting training has immensely helped my writing, especially in understanding of the different logistical requirements that the writer has to take into consider from a production point of view. Obviously each writer has there own philosophy and own style which is why the same characters with the same journey could turn out into two different stories when you give it to two different writer. I traditionally put an emphasis on how I feel, If I don’t laugh, cry or feel the right emotion that audience is suppose to be feeling while writing the scene then I know I need to change it. I still follow this method but I supplement it with the advice I had received that helps me tactically strategies and logically find the best path for the story to follow which definitely helped with the flow of the story stabilizing it nicely to make better sense and easier to follow. So it becomes controlled chaos rather that getting out of hand.
Tell us about your writing process and what you like to write about? What stories do you want to tell?
I generally start with an inkling of an idea that can come out of anywhere. My idea for my first screenplay came up while waiting in the queue at the bank. Afterwards I simply ask myself the question “what if…” and that takes it to an entirely new level of creative freedom; removing all perceived restrictions with different scenarios, points of conflict, relationships…etc.
Writing is daunting and makes me nauseous sometimes. However, it is also magical, wonderful and makes me feel alive. After I have a clear defined outline of the moments I feel are critical to the structure and flow of the story. I begin work on building around them, sometimes there are ten moments other times twenty – it depends on the story, every screenplay comes out differently depending on what could happen.
While I write, I sometimes go days on end without taking a break. So much so after an intense couple of days of writing, dreams manifest themselves of me in the shoes of the character, in their world doing what they’re suppose to do or sometimes something the complete opposite and that makes me think of another way to tell the story. My favorite part of the process is when I get feedback on a story and have a chance to improve it further, since the input of another person can bring a whole new dimension to the story and an added depth in places I hadn’t even considered.
I don’t have a particular genre. I love writing classic concepts and themes from a new vantage point without losing the magic. I enjoy each story in its own way. I write stories based on what touches me. I want to tell stories that inspire people, while bringing them on a fulfilling journey.
Have you been able to find opportunities in Singapore? How are you tackling roadblocks?
Over the last year since the HI program, knowing where I am and realizing where I want to be has helped turn roadblocks into opportunities to grow. Preparation was key during the early stages. I knew I just had to keep moving forward and continue to improve myself, my acting and my screenplays, I had done that through various acting and writing master classes. I began to create more screenplays, expanding on the screenplays I had already written and branching out to different genres having also finished writing a 200+ page book.
Has your writing style changed as you’ve grown and matured?
I write based on how I feel and what’s happening in the world, the older I get the more I feel that I tend to juggle the different aspects of the story better. There is a clearer, concise and considered approach to the story. I spend more time reviewing my work as I gotten older. By the time I was 18 I was making sure I read my screenplays at least 15-20 times before I’d consider them finalized in anyway even then I left the door open on changing them if I need to. Now at 19 I make sure to write every day and try to keep the same concentration, attention to detail and intensity in how to story was told as I had when I began writing years ago.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time from now?
As I think of my goals and dreams, my personal goals and career goals. I see myself working with extraordinary people creating amazing pieces of art through the medium of film and television. Writing new stories and making those stories come to life.