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The incredible diversity of talent in the Jewish community at UCLA is something that’s always made me very proud to be a Bruin. That is just one of the many reasons I deeply enjoyed the privilege of going to the premiere of BoulderLight Pictures’ new film, “Bad Match,” which took place in Beverly Hills four weeks ago. The film, which provided a clever take on online hookup culture, was produced by UCLA’s very own Akiva Nemetsky. Nemesky is a student creator and filmmaker has worked with the company on multiple exciting projects. I sat down with him to reflect on the release of his new film, his journey and his influences.
How do you feel about the release of bad match?
The release has been really positive so far. Given the fact that the movie’s about social media, I think it connects with that audience. They live a lot of their life online, so people have been commenting about the movie, posting about the movie, it’s gotten a lot of reviews on the internet, so the reception has been really good so far. I’m really happy with it.
What drew you to film?
When I was young, watching movies, what I always enjoyed about it was that you really get a window into a world that you otherwise wouldn’t ever get to see or be exposed to. That ability to transport people into places where they would never be able to go is something that fascinates me about film, and I think TV does it also.
Do you ever see yourself going into TV as well, or are you strictly loyal to film?
I mean, eventually. I think there’s so much crossover nowadays with how TV is increasing in quality and length. Storytelling in general is becoming more film-like with long series that are basically just like really long movies. So, I think that what you couldn’t do in TV years ago that you could only do in film, has decreased, and the opportunities with TV are a lot more than they once were.
What other projects have you been involved with and which one are you most proud of?
To date there are two that have come out that I’ve been a part of in a large capacity. I have another one coming out at the end of the month. The first one was sort of like a low budget dark comedy. The company that I work with, we found the director and just wanted to make something with them, and so this was the first thing they showed us, so it wasn’t something that we invested a lot of money in, but I’m proud of it. It was a good movie for what it was. And Bad Match was the second one which is coming out, which, obviously, I’m very happy with. We also have about four in post production that I’ve been a part of, but they haven’t been released yet.
So, which one are you most proud of?
To date, I would say Bad Match, but a lot of that is because the potential of what the other ones can be be is not known yet, cause there’s still so much of a process in post they can go through, that what they ultimately turn out to be can be extremely different from what they are now. So, it’s hard to put a label on those things, or, evaluations, I should say.
How has UCLA influenced you as a creator?
I think that, part of being a creator is sort of having access or perspective on multiple diverse opinions, and I think being at UCLA, where there’s such a large student body with an extremely diverse population is something that’s definitely enabled me to broaden my perspective. That filters down into the films that I make.
What about being Jewish? How has that influenced you?
I think one thing that is definitely inherent to Jewish culture is being a part of, and trying to positively affect the community. Oftentimes it’s your immediate community, meaning your Jewish community, but also the community at large. I think film’s broad, national and even global appeal is something that is able to do that on a large scale.
Do you consider yourself a “Jewish” creator? Does it define your work, in a way?
It doesn’t define it in the sense that the content that I’m creating is necessarily related to things that are Jewish, whether religiously or culturally, but I think the values that Judaism instills are things that I’d like to influence the movies that I’m a part of.
What values, specifically?
I would say, courage is one of them. Having the ability to stand up in the face of opposition. And another one I would say, would be to have the ability to see beyond your own immediate perspective. And I think film does that well because you get to see the way stories unfold. Oftentimes you get to see them from a third person point of view so you get to see a dual narrative where two people might be experiencing the same event but have two very different perspectives on it.
Have you encountered opposition to those values within your work? How did you handle it?
In terms of content, of course because you’re catering not just to the Jewish community but the world at large. Often times the standards of the world at large don’t equate to my personal ones, or Judaism’s in general. The way to go about that is to make the focus or the takeaway … something that you can be proud of — even if there are particular scenes or instances that my Jewish mother might not be so proud of.
What about situations where, on an interpersonal level, there was a conflict of values?
That’s not something specific to the film industry. With any business, you’re interacting with people who don’t have the same sort of standards as you do. I mean, the way to go about that is to do things that you’re comfortable with. Your decisions should always be guided by your own personal moral compass. And what I’ve found is that when you do that people actually respect it — as opposed to when you’re just flaking on what you believe in. It’s a win-win because you get to keep your standards and people respect you for it.
What are your future aspirations?
The immediate focus is gonna be on those films that are now in post. And then at the company that I’m with, we have a bunch of films in development. Thankfully, since I’ve been there the company has expanded. While Bad Match is a movie that I’m very proud of, it does fall within the range of lower budget, and the material that we’re developing now at the company is much broader, much larger and a lot more expensive. I mean, just generally, what I want to be is a film producer, whether that means working in house at a company, starting my own company or sort of being like a studio producer. Any one of those three things are what I see myself doing, but I don’t have a particular preference of one over the other at this point. Only just ‘cause I need more experience to make that decision.