French-Armenian costume designer Eva Minassian came to the homeland to build bridges between Armenia and the film industry abroad. She believes that the expansion of the film industry in Armenia will be immensely beneficial and help create new jobs, engage more expertise and improve the quality of local productions.
Minassian has worked on several projects since her arrival in the homeland through her participation in the Armenian Volunteer Corps program (AVC)—the organization which connected her to Order Film Production and has helped Minassian evolve beyond her expertise.
“I am really happy to work with the Order Film, as they are particularly open-minded,” said Minassian, who is currently engaged in different phases of pre- and post-production of several documentary film projects. “They want to expand. They are dedicated to promote and develop filmmaking in Armenia, as well as to collaborate with foreign productions on international projects — which is what Armenia needs now.”
One of Order Film Production’s latest projects focuses on sex-selective abortion — a sore subject for Armenia that has become a significant topic of discussion the past few years only. “There are five countries that have the highest rate in sex-selective abortion and unfortunately Armenia is one of them,” said Minassian, who believes this issue needs deep reflection. This new documentary is a joint project with Doping Creative Agency and aims to cover the topic in-depth.
As a highly persecuted ethnic group, the Yazidi community is the focus of another documentary project for the team, which plans to visit communities not only in Armenia but also in Georgia, Iraq and Syria to highlight and demystify their history, culture and religion.
Minassian is also involved in two films in the post-production phase. One of them is the newly premiered Zulali based on a namesake novel by Narine Abgaryan. Minassian wrote the French synopsis for the film and translated the subtitles into English. French will come next. She is now supervising the application process of Zulali to various international film festivals.
A documentary about Armenian composer Maestro Tigran Mansuryan is also in the post-production phase. Minassian is trying her best to find distributors in Europe. “It’s vital to understand the importance of global networking in how the world is evolving. We need to create those connections. That’s how we can use our resources. That’s how we can use a diaspora to its best,” says Minassian.
Establishing a Film Commission in Armenia
Minassian is determined to create a film commission in Armenia, which will centralize the logistics for any foreign production that will be interested in filming in Armenia — that includes accommodations, local technicians and talent and production locations.
This will indirectly boost tourism to the country and contribute to the development of other spheres. “When the Game of Thrones decided to do shooting in Jordan, that country created a film commission, as one did not exist,” explained Minassian. “The series has long finished, but people are still traveling there to visit the place where filming took place.”
Minassian is cooperating with Armenian Public TV to conduct research, collect data and develop a business plan to ‘market’ Armenia as a filming destination by the end of 2022.
Meanwhile, at Order Film, Minassian is co-producing an autobiographical film written by Artavazd Peleshyan, a world-renowned Armenian director of essay films who once left his home in Lori and hitchhiked all the way to Moscow to start a career as a film director. Through the arm of coincidence, Minassian’s story before coming to Armenia looks much the same.
After graduating fashion school in Paris, Minassian worked for Ralph Lauren, Chanel and H&M. However, she felt unfulfilled and quit everything to embark on an adventure filled with uncertainty.
She took a bus from Paris to Russia and lived in Mongolia and China for a few months. Finally, after wandering around southeast Asia, she ended up in Germany. That’s when she started to think about creating a new career for herself, merging her love for fashion with the seventh art.
Costume design has become a natural specialty for Minassian. The work demands hours of research—a constant learning experience for Minassian, who says it wasn’t easy to make this career change. At 29 years old, she began volunteering as a costume designer and started to earn a living a few years later.
Minassian extended her volunteer experience with AVC through December 2021. She plans to return to the homeland soon to follow through on her long-term film projects.