Executive Producer Mino Jarjoura was featured in the March edition of Shoot Online Magazine. The article celebrates Mino’s experiences working with Director Bryan Buckley over the past 7 years. Several Emmy award winning spots and an Oscar nomination later Mino has now joined the Hungry Man family as Executive Producer, heading up the LA office. Read the full article below or on the site by clicking here.
A new career chapter
March 25, 2013, Robert Goldrich — During an “In The Director’s Chair” session at last year’s SHOOT Directors/Producers Forum at the DGA Theater in New York, director Bryan Buckley of Hungry Man credited his long-time producer Mino Jarjoura for playing an integral role in making the short film Asad a reality. Asad–which was screened for the ad community for the first time at the 2012 Forum shortly after winning Best Narrative Short honors at the Tribeca Film Festival–went on to earn an Oscar nomination this year for Best Live Action Short.
Asad centers on the title character, a 12-year-old lad in a war-torn fishing village in Somalia who must decide between falling into the pirate life or rising above it to choose the path of an honest fisherman. The project was sparked in part by a United Nations short documentary, No Autographs, which brought Buckley and Jarjoura to refugee camps in Kenya and Sudan several years ago. Buckley and Jarjoura encountered Somalian refugees in Kakuma, Kenya. “Their stories and their outlook on life haven’t been fully told and haven’t gained the exposure they deserve,” related Buckley. He noted that media have a fascination with the Somalian pirates and to a lesser extent with the Al-Shabaab [terrorist] group in the Southern territory of Somalia but as a result the spirit of the everyday people themselves gets glossed over and overlooked.
Based on insights gained during his experience on the UN short and sparked by an article he read in the The New York Times a year later, Buckley wrote a script in an attempt to do justice to the humanity of the Somalian people. In that lensing in Somalia would have been too dangerous a prospect, the short was shot entirely in South Africa, spoken in Somalian (with English subtitles). The cast consisted entirely of real people, including two refugee boys, the title character and a younger sidekick. Neither spoke English and both were illiterate so Buckley had to deploy a translator and the youngsters had to memorize their Somalian lines sans a script or written point of reference.
Recently SHOOT caught up with Jarjoura for his reflections on Asad and his seven years as Buckley’s producer. Jarjoura has embarked on a new career chapter, formally coming on staff at Hungry Man as executive producer heading up day-to-day operations in the Los Angeles office.
Jarjoura recalled that the UN film shoot left an indelible impression on everyone involved. “We were all affected by what we saw. The UN film was quite good but never got the traction for widespread exposure. So we wanted to do something else and Asad sprung from that. We were compelled to go back to the subject matter but to do it in a different way, a short narrative format. Bryan showed me his script and I was blown away by it.”
The logistics of filming the short were a bit daunting. Buckley doesn’t speak Somalian so instinct and careful planning, including the meticulous blocking out of scenes, were key in helping to ensure that the right lines were being said at the right time and in the right place. Buckley and his crew recreated a Somalia fishing village in South Africa, about three hours north of Cape Town. The director noted that Jarjoura was pivotal in dealing with all the logistics and bringing the project to fruition. And the fruits of that labor go beyond walking the red carpet on Oscar night. Hungry Man has helped the two lads in Asad get a formal education–in a short span, they’ve gone from zero grade to the fourth grade already in South Africa. And the Oscar nomination means that more people will see the film and become aware of the refugees and what they can accomplish if they just get the opportunity.
Jarjoura navigated one more recent logistical maze related to Asad, gaining entry into the country for the two youngsters so they could attend last month’s Academy Awards ceremony.
For Jarjoura, the experience on Asad has been gratifying just as the opportunity he’s had to collaborate with Buckley. Jarjoura broke into the business in Toronto–after breaking away from a planned career in accounting. He served as an intern on a music video and got hooked on production. He ended up producing a short film and got involved in varied other projects. Then in 2001 he was asked to help Hungry Man open a satellite office in Toronto. The SAG strike was going on at the time and American production was being diverted to foreign locales as a result.
It was a fateful day in January 2006 that Jarjoura met Buckley on a job in Brazil. The two hit it off and became a team that over the next seven years turned out assorted notable projects, operating out of all of Hungry Man’s offices, taking on productions worldwide. Included in the mix was a pair of primetime Emmy-nominated commercials: American Express’ “Conan-Curtain” for Ogilvy, New York (nominated in 2011); and Audi’s “Green Car” from Venables Bell & Partners, San Francisco (nominated in 2010).
In “Curtain,” Conan O’Brien sojourns to India to get the finest silk, weave it and then dye it in a river to create what turns out to be the best red curtain imaginable for his late night talk show on TNT. Indeed, the spot notes that “if you’re really serious about entertainment, every detail counts,” a mantra which segues to using an American Express card to “take charge of your entertainment.”
In “Green Police,” people are arrested by the green police for such “crimes” as not properly disposing of an orange rind, choosing plastic over paper, and using incandescent light bulbs. “Green Car” later takes us to a police checkpoint where traffic has been stopped. Seemingly all the drivers are in jeopardy of being arrested except for the one behind the wheel of an Audi A3 TDI clean diesel automobile who’s allowed to go on his way.
Jarjoura’s Emmy pedigree even extends beyond Buckley. Over the years, Jarjoura managed to occasionally produce for other Hungry Man directors, including Marcos Siega. Jarjoura produced the Siega-directed “Promises” for The Ellen Degeneres Show which won a Daytime Emmy Award in the Outstanding Promotional Announcement-Institutional category.
Getting back to his collaborations with Buckley, Jarjoura’s credits are extensive, capped most notably by this year’s Tide Super Bowl spot, “Miracle Stain, out of Saatchi & Saatchi New York. A food stain on a fan’s football jersey resembles legendary San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana, becoming a national phenomenon–only to be washed away by the fan’s wife who happens to have allegiance to a different football team.
Of the partnership between a director and producer, Jarjoura observed, “The trust has to be there. You want to be a sounding board and a supporter of the director’s vision and at the same time know when to push back on something that isn’t going to work. You might take some lumps, but that’s part of it too. The important day to day is coming up with a plan for achieving what’s needed. Get the people in place and then the execution of that plan. And trying to do it with style and grace and keeping your clients happy and part of the process. Then you have to be ready to throw it all away and start over when it all changes on the tech scout, two days before the shoot. So don’t get too attached.”
Jarjoura said that a good producer also has to be “the filter” when it comes to all the information and requests intended for the director. “Know what’s important, hold some for the right moment and absorb the rest. It’s amazing how much of it actually matters. Then at the same time you have to figure out the important stuff. You develop an instinct for it. Bryan and I developed our relationship over seven years of working together. On the set you get a lot of requests and questions that are meant for the director. That’s normal. We’re always trying to get a lot done in such a short period of time and stakes are so high. You begin to know the answers to the questions without having to go get them each time. It’s a marriage–trust and loyalty are a huge part of that. It hasn’t felt like a job. Now if I can figure out how to beat him in our fantasy baseball league this year, I would be complete.”
Another component towards completion involves the new challenges afforded Jarjoura in his role as an executive producer at Hungry Man in L.A. “It’s a great opportunity to help shape and develop directors’ careers, to take all the stuff I’ve learned working with Bryan and apply it, pass it on to some of the great talent we have in place here.”