By Melina Chadbourne
Storytellers do not walk a straight path. Unexpected turns and changes in the road occur, bringing them to a place they did not anticipate. However, what always will remain the same within the storyteller is the passion to affect people with the art of story. Tamir Yardenne is a storyteller. His path is admirable because of his passion and initiative to continue to work making great art and telling stories people ought to hear. He works both behind and in front of the camera so he can be a part of the storytelling process in more ways than one. Tamir is an artist, but in particular an artist with a great work ethic.
Growing up in the Bronx, Tamir grew up taking dance classes. “My dream as a kid was always to be in entertainment and I didn’t really know where that would lead; whether I would be dancing, acting, or singing,” Tamir says. He started out as a tap-dancer and later performed African dance and ballet. When he first started taking dance classes he almost quit until his mother challenged him to stick to it. With his motivation, passion, and stamina he became one of the best dancers in his classes. “That’s when I really kicked in as an artist,” Tamir explained. The intense work Tamir put into dancing helped shape him into the person he is today, and although he is not dancing much anymore, he puts in the same amount of passion and work into the art he creates today.“Dancers are so disciplined. I was up at the crack of dawn to get to dance class. You take class all day long to hone your craft and that’s where the love of the craft came from for me.” Tamir later received a scholarship to New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts where he studied acting.
Since he grew up and went to school in New York City, it became his “playground” as well as his home, where he became an artist. After living, working, and studying in the city, Tamir was contacted by Aaron Spelling for a Soap Opera opportunity in LA. “They flew me out to Los Angeles and I thought…Hollywood. Look how they are treating their actors. I got a limousine driver and a hotel room. It was just like the ultimate dream of an actor. I was tired of doing work in NYC and getting no money. I loved the art, but I thought there had to be a better way.” Unfortunately, Tamir wasn’t able to land the part, although he looks back on it as a learning experience. “I got sent home to New York with my tail between my legs. But I feel a little sad for the people who are out here in terms of growing up in the business because I think that the appreciation for the art lacks in Los Angeles. Whereas you got everything you need in NYC. It’s right there, so accessible to everybody as a performer. And I think as an actor, it’s important to seek out theatre. And to me that’s what is missing out here in LA.”
Having successes such as roles on Hawthorne, Tamir kept auditioning and making a living out in Los Angeles but eventually the life of waiting for an agent’s phone call made him realize something. “I was waiting to hear about jobs that could maybe change my life. One time my mother had called when I was waiting to hear from an agent and I kind of went into her a little bit when she just wanted to say hi,” he laughs admittedly. “At that point, I said I got to make a shift, this is not going to cut it.”Then after talking one night with a friend, Tamir realized something that was very telling about the kind of man he is: “I just want to work,” he said. His beginning as a talented and hard-working dancer is clearly still at the core of who Tamir is today. Acting and auditioning was sporadic, but Tamir felt he had an opportunity to make work and art on his own that would keep him continually busy doing what he loves. So in 2007 he started up Tamir Films where he is currently the CEO. He explains, “I am the person people come to for questions, but as an actor I am the one looking for the answers. So it’s sometimes hard to adjust myself. It’s humbling to the actor.” After selling one pitch for an animal reality show, the idea to make his new film in production, Silencio, came to him by chance. One of his friends from South Africa told him the story of the real boy that Silencio is based on. After realizing this was a story Tamir would like to tell, he hired a writer (Ryan Gavan) and a director (Daniel Hodge), and began campaigning for the film. “We are beginning to look for funding for the film and campaigning because this is a vital topic for bullying and gangs. We are trying to take it to film festivals and schools as a learning tool.”
Tamir’s goals as an artist and producer are neither shallow nor small. He thinks big but also purely. “I try to make sure the work that I produce represents the goodness of life. Why not do amazing stuff that uplifts, enlightens and makes people think in a way they never thought of before.” In regards to the sensitive nature of the story in Silencio, Tamir says, “We want to make sure that it is told right artistically because shock and awe are great too, but besides voyeurism, we want to make sure that our message comes across as well- a message that no matter how dark it is, no matter what you are going through, there is still hope.”
Tamir works with many of his close friends including Jay Millines and Joyce Lee who are equally as devoted, passionate, and artistic. It is a very collaborative process, spearheaded by Tamir. “I think it’s smart for me to hire people that know more than I do and then collaboration can be an amazing thing. I know that I don’t know everything so having people like that makes my job easier and makes the product and company better.”
His surprising and appreciated candor makes him stand out among others. He is willing to share his experience and work as he strives to tell more stories. “I never thought I would do this. I wanted to be an artist. I wanted to be a star to tell you the truth. I got bit by the bug at a really young age. I never really knew I wanted to be a storyteller. I think it developed out of a need to work. When you see the work of someone like Meryl Streep and Viola Davis, you see how effortless they are with their craft and vision that you are willing to suspend your disbelief. When people watch that work, as an artist, you think that you want to tell a story like that too.”
Tamir Films is currently in production with its film Silencio written by Ryan Gavan, directed by Daniel Hodge, and starring Meshach Taylor. It is based on a true story of a bullied young man who gets involved with a gang. Tamir Films are accepting donations on their website (http://tamirfilms.com/index.html) and they are also on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/tamirfilms) and Twitter (http://twitter.com/TamirfilmsLtd). Tamir made clear of the future of the project and Tamir Films, “It’s just the tip of the iceberg, we are just getting started.”