Nazgol “Naz” Goshtasbpour is a production designer with a quickly growing list of credits which starts somewhere around 2003 and extends to today with the CW series In The Dark about a young, blind woman who’s investigating the murder of a dear friend.
The comedy-drama stars Perry Mattfeld (Shameless) as Murphy Mason, the visually-impaired woman with a colorful love life and few friends. In The Dark premiered in April with a pilot directed by Michael Showalter (Wet Hot American Summer). Created by Corinne Kingsbury, the series is also produced by Ben Stiller (Mystery Men) and received a full-season order soon after the network viewed the pilot back in 2018.
PopAxiom spoke with Naz about being a production designer, RoboCop, and one of her favorite movies which happens to be one of mine, too. Read on, readers.
For Naz, working in film was a no-brainer “I was always fascinated by film and television.”
However, production design wasn’t the initial driving instinct “Early on I wanted to be an actress or a director. When I was 13, my mom took me to a talent agent and the way the agent talked to me … I just felt like it wasn’t for me.
Naz focused on “… directing and editing and basically anything else. At the time, I had no idea what an art department was.”
Naz was accepted into university “Two or three weeks before starting film school, I was covering a shift for someone at my part-time job, and the production designer, art director, and costume designer of a movie walked in. I ended up helping them pick out outfits for their movie.”
The young designer-to-be made the most of the opportunity “I was pretty naive, and I said ‘Hey if you need any volunteers …’ I ended up working as a PA.
Nat continued working on sets and finished film school while focusing on perfecting her portfolio then “… signed up for the guild in the art department and ten years later I was designing.”
You’re Coming With Me
Naz was working in the art department when the opportunity to work on RoboCop (2014) came her way “The first scene of the movie takes place in Tehran, Iran.” She continues, “At the time I was one of the only Iranians working in the art department. The production reached out to me, and I came on as a translator and to help design certain things like the signs, storefronts, graffiti. I worked with the set designer on the details.”
The designer was Martin Whist “… he paid a lot of attention to detail on that set. It was incredible. And then you see like three seconds of it in the film.”
About In The Dark
As with any project, In The Dark started with research into the lives of people living with blindness “The more I researched, the more I realized I didn’t know anything, and the more I researched.”
Naz thinks “… one of the reasons I got the job was because I asked ‘Why does she have a lamp in the bedroom?’ She’s blind, she wouldn’t care. She has sex with random strangers, so the last thing she would want is light or a lamp in the bedroom.”
That attention to reality is essential for Naz as she strives to “… Make every detail about Murphy’s life authentic.”
Whether it’s theatre, film, or television and whether you’re a writer, actor, or director “You have to really get into a person’s head, and the writers will come up with plenty of backstories for characters, but you kind of have your own little story for things about characters. A reason for those things being there.”
Murphy’s roommate underwent a similar thought process “For Jessie, we asked ‘What would someone like her have?’ We decided it was a mix of salvaged furniture and stuff from IKEA.”
That Favorite Film
The conversation shifts toward talking about influences when Naz asks me “Did you ever watch the movie Working Girl?”
I provided a full-disclosure answer “It’s one of my favorite movies.”
Naz continues “It’s one of my favorite movies too. Melanie Griffith is a strong female character who works her way up and makes something of herself.”
Connecting it back around to influence “Melanie Griffith says in the film that she reads anything and everything because you never know where inspiration is going to come from.”
For Naz, that simple philosophy lives on “I watch anything and everything because you never know. There are so many great designers out there.
Who are some of her favorite production designers that make up your creative DNA? “I love the work of Donald Graham Burt who did Gone Girl … his style of design is so amazing.”
Naz continues “Wes Anderson movies with Adam Stockhausen are beautiful movies. He makes places seem almost like doll houses. I also love Dennis Gassner who worked on Road to Perdition. His work on Skyfall I absolutely loved.”
Naz adds one more name to the list “I watched a movie just last night Age of Adeline with Blake Lively. The work done there by Claude Pare was amazing.”
In her own words, Naz has worked on “… super-indie projects” where she had to “… make a dollar into a $100 somehow.”
What has that experience taught her? “Nothing scares me. As I’ve learned with every project, no matter the size of the production they all have the same problems. There’s never enough time, there’s never enough money.”
However, if it’s fear, Naz bends it to her positive will “It’s all fun challenges. And when you work with really nice people and creative people, it becomes that much more enjoyable.”
In The Dark is on its run on The CW every Thursday, so what’s next for Naz? “We finished shooting Glamorous, a pilot directed by Eva Longoria.” Naz pauses, then adds “A couple projects in the works but I don’t want to say too much and jinx it.”
To tend the convo and maybe throw a little energy out there into the world, Naz says “If and when there is a remake of Working Girl I’d really like to design it. That’s my dream.”
I know a writer who could help with that. 🙂
Thanks to Nazgol Goshtasbpour and Impact24 PR
for making this interview possible.