By: Fred Parvaneh
As a lifelong lover of music, Gobi M. Rahimi is a prolific music video producer and director who has worked with some of the biggest names in the music industry, including Snoop Dogg, Yoko Ono, Mary J. Blige and Tupac Shakur.
Rahimi has also developed an extensive career in television, film, and social media branding over the past 20 years with more than 360 credits across multiple platforms. His spots for Hot Pockets starring Snoop Lion (Snoop Dogg), and Nestle’s Butterfinger starring Seth Green accumulated over 750 million and a billion media impressions respectively.
Rahimi was also responsible for launching the 3DX Film Festival in Singapore and the Hong Kong 3D Film Festival.
Away from the camera, Rahimi is a published author. His book “Thru My Eyes” (Simon & Schuster/Atria Books) is a collection of photography and prose inspired by the late rap artist, Tupac Shakur.
Kayhan Life recently had a chance to speak to Gobi M. Rahimi.
Q: Music has been a large part of your life: you have produced and or directed videos for some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry. What is your favorite music genre and which artists inspire you?
A: I’m a huge rock fan: the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who, as well as crooners like Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole. These are the types of artists and music I heard in our house as a kid (as well as some classical Persian music, which admittedly I was never a fan of).
I’ve had the pleasure of working with a lot of celebrities from Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, Yoko Ono, Trent Reznor, Bono, to Tupac. I’ve learned a lot from many of them. I think the one celebrity who had the most impact on me was Tupac Amaru Shakur. He was a powerful young man who had faced a tremendous amount of adversity, yet achieved a lot more than most people do in a lifetime.
Q: The circumstances of Tupac’s death still remain a mystery. You have been working on a project called “7 Dayz” which is a documentary about his life and death. Why?
A: The reason I want to make this film is that everyone knows that Tupac was shot and killed, but no one knows that one of the people working as security and watching over him during the last week of his life was an Iranian (me). It was the scariest six nights of my life. There were undercover FBI agents everywhere, we found the Las Vegas Police unhelpful, and I received death threats. Part of my rationale in wanting to make this film is to show the world that we are not what the media or news portrays us to be.
Q: What’s on your “bucket list”?
A: I have yet to direct a movie and have that in my sights as my next major goal.
I have never been turned down. I’ve lost many jobs, but once I am face to face with an artist or a decision maker, I usually am able to show them the value of working with me.
Q: What made you pursue filmmaking?
A: I was selling real estate in Newport Beach and Irvine from 1988 to 1994. In 1992, I married an Iranian-American filmmaker. I convinced her to make a speculative music video for a couple of musicians we knew, and I paid for it using my American Express card. For the first time in my life I absolutely fell in love with the process, and never realized that arts could be an option. After the video was completed, the musicians got a record deal with Sony Music, because we had given them an image.
I was over the moon. I told my wife that we could be a great directing/producing team. She didn’t want to hear it. She suggested I continue selling real estate. This rubbed me the wrong way. Three months later, I asked for a divorce.
A few months after that I met an African-American young lady in Orange County who was a music video producer. Within six weeks, I moved in with her and began working on rap videos as a production assistant. I worked up the ranks, and in a short time became a producer. All in all, I’ve produced around 80 music videos. Thus far, I’ve produced/directed over 350 music videos, commercials, branded content, etc.
Q: Where were you born, raised and educated? What is your family like and where do you currently call home?
A: I was born in Clapham, London, in 1965. When I was six months of age, my parents moved back to Yousefabad, Tehran. I lived there until I was 13 years old.
At the age of 6 I developed chronic asthma and almost died 4 times. My mother’s mother was English and lived in London with her Iranian husband (my grandfather). Every summer I would be sent to London for treatment of my asthma.
In 1977, my parents bought a small one- bedroom condo on Abbey Road. The top right floor of the building featured on the Beatles Abbey Road album cover — it was the floor I lived on. Once the Revolution took place, my father’s name was put on a blacklist, as he was a Freemason. We were not able to go back to Tehran.
As my father was educated in Carmel, he decided to move to California, and settled in Irvine. Being Iranian in Irvine back then wasn’t easy. We were constantly the victims of hate and racism. I was very small in height and weight back then, so I was an easy target for fights. At an early age, I learned how to fight back.
My parents weren’t the best business people, so we were always struggling for money. My first job was at the Orange County Swap Meet (flea market) on the weekends, where I would sell towels and sheets for a guy from Brooklyn, NY. I actually learned a lot from that gentleman. While at high school, I had a variety of jobs in sales, from waiting tables, to parking cars, to bartending.
I went to Cal State Fullerton and got a degree in International Marketing. I then became a realtor, and the top selling agent for Century 21 Professional Realty.
I now live in Culver City. I am married to a half-French, half-English lady whom I met in the south of France. We have a 6-year old boy named Arya Michael Rahimi and have a little baby girl on the way.
Q: What is your relationship with Iran? Have you visited Iran recently and what was your impression?
A: I may have been born in the UK, but I’m Iranian through and through. I love my people and culture, and am honored and proud to call myself an Iranian. I have visited Iran twice in the last 5 years. Going back felt like a homecoming.
I think we have one of the most beautiful countries in the world, as well as one of the most beautiful and soulful people on the planet. I hope to spend more time there, and pray that one day, the people of Iran will have access to the West as they did when I was a kid growing up in Tehran.
Q: There is a large population of young, educated and creative Iranians vying to come to the West. What career advice do you have for them?
A: Never give up. Align with good people who know more than you. Never give up.