Tigran Mutafyan’s Eyes are a Director’s Best Friend

kkingme2003@yahoo.com
3 min readJan 1, 2019

Gennady Golovkin is seen rushing at the airport, making important decisions based on emotion. These events in a Technodom commercial starring the famed boxer are synonymous with the experience of cinematographer Tigran Mutafyan on the same production. The pace was somewhat frantic and the DP’s decisions would transfer to the emotional tone of the spot. It’s far from the first time Mutafyan has found himself in this position; his combination of talent and experience is precisely why writer/director Malik Zenger sought out the Armenian talent to serve as cinematographer on this project. Zenger has worked with McDonalds, KFC, Hyundai, and other massive global companies. He understands the necessity of capturing exemplary visuals and doing so in an expedient manner. He informs, “The agency wanted someone who will be able to bring a very cinematic look and also be professionally disciplined. Our star had limited available time on set, meaning we had to shoot quickly and get everything perfect pretty much the first time. Tigran was selected for his consistency, his art, and his brave choices in lighting technique.” This kind of confidence in regards to his abilities is what has made Mutafyan the first choice for many productions across the planet.

While the responsibilities of his work are multiple, Tigran is boisterous in his defense that lighting is the most prominent. As a general rule, most DPs and productions play it safe by using flattering beauty lighting. This plays into the ego of onscreen talent but does not lend itself well to being memorable in regards to originality. Creating lighting which is congruent to the emotional tone of the story is Mutafyan’s calling card; whether it be for a film, commercial, or music video. He relates, “I have this idea of the science of visual existence within the space and time. The most important thing for me is the meaning of the story and science of the visuals, the logic of which I use to create the lighting design. After this is established, I try to make it as ‘beautiful’ as possible depending on the time I have. If I don’t have much time, I’ll design the lighting in a way that I can do necessary adjustments in post. It’s important to choose a team carefully and trust them. If I work with a gaffer who is very knowledgeable and understand the lighting, we can get the work done in a shorter amount of time and have options in post as well. I’ll listen to them because I trust them. That’s the ideal situation.”

Tigran’s ethos of assisting the director to make his/her statement in a production is evident in the Technodom commercial with Gennady Golovkin. There is an individuality that comes across in a very emotive manner. The POV of (director) Malik Zenger permeates the story which relies heavily on visuals to communicate the importance of family. Zenger gives some insight into the attributes beyond this DP’s talent as he relates, “Tigran also has one vital quality that makes him stand out from other DPs here in Kazakhstan. He is always deeply involved in project. From the beginning/pre-production phase until the video is rendered out from post production facility, Tigran is always around helping to make your product better. That’s exactly what happened on a music video production we did for local celebrity Galymzhan Moldanazar. After Tigran’s tremendous work on that video, the offers for big films and music videos began pouring in for him. Everyone in the industry is eager to work with someone like Tigran who is talented and believes in the team.”

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kkingme2003@yahoo.com

Kelly King writes for numerous popular online media outlets in addition to being a staff writer for NYC & LA based/internationally published Drumhead magazine.