Indie Film Master Kupelian Embraces Vartanantz

MONTROSE, Calif.—Roger Kupelian may not be a household name in Hollywood but he sure has a following in the indie film business, which he’s cultivated for the past 23 years.

Warrior Saints’ is the brainchild of indie film creator Roger Kupelian, who’s creating quite a stir in Hollywood with his visual effects.
Warrior Saints’ is the brainchild of indie film creator Roger Kupelian, who’s creating quite a stir in Hollywood with his visual effects.

He happens to be well versed in many forms of visual media, having contributed everything from storyboards production illustrations and concepts to final shots for major film projects.

Among his credits in visual effects are the “Lord of the Rings Trilogy,” “Alice in Wonderland,” and “Hugo.” All were blockbusters with Oscar considerations and huge box office appeal.

Suffice it to say that Kupelian has made inroads upon the silver screen and he’s just beginning.

A franchise he’s created, titled “East of Byzantium” (EoB), is inviting 100 fans to own a uniquely painted special cover of the latest installment, “Warrior Saints.”

A previous volume, “War Gods,” is based on the historical events surrounding Armenia’s conversion to Christianity in 301 A.D. The story has already been presented to the Knights of Vartan. Kupelian did a signing at San Diego’s Comic Con, a major national industry event.

In the book, over a century has passed since the events of 301. Vartan Mamigonian and his followers face incredible odds to defend their country and religious freedom. When the men fall in battle, women pick up the fight.

Kupelian has maintained that the EoB graphic novel series was a way to get the vision of a possible future film out there so readers could grasp the intent.

“There are a lot of amazing characters throughout our history,” he points out. “But Vartan Mamigonian is the one I identified with, even as an Armenian kid growing up in a diasporan community in West Africa. He’s our ‘Braveheart’ and his story deserves to be told. The power in this narrative is one of us having this Warrior Code, rather than being identified as victims.”

The “East of Byzantium” franchise has fans around the world buzzing. There was even a reader who took a photo with a copy of the book to the South Pole.

“War Gods” was released over a year ago, and both books have been licensed as the foundation for a “docu-tainment” miniseries for television, which is now in post-production.

The program was filmed in Armenia last year with authentic landscapes as a backdrop and actors in full period costume from the 4th and 5th centuries. There have also been talks with major Hollywood icons for a feature version of the story.

Lavishly rendered from extensive research, the first 100 copies of “Warrior Saints” will be completely unique in that each cover will be specifically made for that project supporter. Artwork is all supplied by Kupelian. To learn more, visit

“This campaign by Roger is truly unique,” said good friend Jason Sohigian, deputy director of the Armenia Tree Project. “Vartanantz was an amazing piece of history and he’s doing it justice with his talents.”

Raised in Sierra Leone, West Africa, and a chronic world traveler since, Kupelian brings his cultural backgrounds and influences to his work. After a stint as a high school art instructor, he started as a storyboard artist and production illustrator/designer for a Hollywood effects company.

This eventually led to digital matte painting at various other visual effects houses and a subsequent sojourn to New Zealand for Peter Jackson’s original “Lord of the Rings Trilogy.”

Kupelian has also specialized in creating digital environments and structures too expensive or impossible to shoot, like the surface of Mars, the volcanic inferno of Mount Doom, and World War II’s Iwo Jima for the film “Flags of our Fathers.”

Tom Vartabedian

Tom Vartabedian

Tom Vartabedian is a retired journalist with the Haverhill Gazette, where he spent 40 years as an award-winning writer and photographer. He has volunteered his services for the past 46 years as a columnist and correspondent with the Armenian Weekly, where his pet project was the publication of a special issue of the AYF Olympics each September.
Tom Vartabedian

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  1. They have been talking about this movie for about 3 years.When is this movie coming out on the screens of american theaters.?Is this movie going to be seen in all the cinemas of the US or like other Armenian movies its going to be seen only in the church halls.

  2. It,s very important, a film about historical Armenia… For example, i write scenario and muzic about Greate Tigran, it, s nice to create film King Tigran, but i don,t do it and i need helping by Master Kupelyan.

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