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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Actor Marty Papazian: Using Film to Share Light in the Darkness

by Cyrus Webb

For 36 year old actor Marty Papazian life is not just about existing. It is about doing what you love and leaving a mark on the world in the process. Over the past 20 years he has been privileged enough to share his gift on the big screen in movies like Jarhead and The Island but most have gotten to know him through his TV roles on series like The Unit, NCIS and 24.

This year he was brought to my attention for another reason: his debut as writer and director of the movie LEAST AMONG SAINTS. In the film we are given a look into one a man's struggle to not only make sense of his own existence but do something great in his life as well. Papazian plays war veteran Anthony Hayward, a man who comes back changed in so many ways but is given an opportunity through his troubled ten year-old neighbor, Wade (played by Tristan Lake Leabu), to do something that proves life-changing.

Thanks to Anthony Tilghman of DC Now Radio I had the privilege of speaking with Papazian about his career, the film and what he hopes viewers are able to take away from it.

"It's been incredibly meaningful," Marty said to me when I asked what it was like to actually bring the story to life for movie watchers. "The whole process has shaped me as a man and an artist. It took about 3 years of dedicated effort to get it to this point but it was all worth it."

Joining him in bringing the story to life is veteran actor Charles S. Dutton. Marty believes it is the storyline that really drew people to the project. "It is beyond comparison," he said to me. "This has meant something to everyone involved. LEAST AMONG SAINTS is about two lost souls that heal together. In many ways it is all of our story. Those working on the film really brought their hearts to it, and I think you will feel that. It's the beautiful thing about cinema that you can do that."

Marty told me that the process of getting to this point, bringing a story to life, is something that "happened over time." Through his career he says he has been "influenced by great playwrights, getting to know directors and studying them and understanding their work." In many ways as he was acting he believes he was also "learning to become a filmmaker and not knowing that was what was happening." It just seemed like the natural path for him."

LEAST AMONG SAINTS debuted in October of this year. As the word gets out about the project and people are able to see how it unfolds, it fulfills the purpose that the writer/director had in mind when he began on this path. "There was a point in my life when I felt that it was really important that I made my work about something special," he says. "I wanted to serve a higher purpose with it. When I started meeting soldiers in 2004 and hearing their stories, it really moved me. I wrote the initial draft very quickly."

Though inspired, Marty told me that having the support of others is what made sure the project was completed. "You need people in your corner that are going to tell you that this is important and don't stop," he says. "It's really the push I needed to see this through. You have to stay focused on your goal. "

That dedication is paying off in the reviews and the comments from those that have seen it. "Each time someone tells me that it's moved them or that they had a great experience from the film it moves me," says Marty. "I worked so hard to make something that would do just that, move people."

At a time when people are going around life almost lost, Marty sees LEAST AMONG SAINTS as something that will resonate with individuals on a personal level. "The reach is universal," he told me. "It's all about exploring those times I felt isolated or felt pangs of regret. LEAST is all about the way out. We are going to pull this guy out of the darkness into the light. He is able to rebuild himself." It's that shared experience through storytelling that Marty believes brings us together.

As he has spent this year finding his own bliss, Marty Papazian shares his hope for all of us: "It's such a  struggle being an artist. You have to really follow your heart. Follow what makes you happy. You are only going to have a certain amount of opportunities to express yourself. It's really important that you follow what interests you. "

Discover more about Marty and the film LEAST AMONG SAINTS at

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