From Starting an Illegal Underground Metal Band in Tehran, Iran to the Sundance Film Institute — Farbod Ardebili On What It Means To Be a Conscious Creator and Why Art Matters
Play • 1 hr 3 min

“Everything in art, everything that we have achieved in the world, comes from our basic desire to tell a story.” – Farbod Ardebili


Welcome to the Conscious Creators Show; where through intimate and insightful interviews with authors, actors, musicians, entrepreneurs and other podcasters, you'll learn tools and tactics to 10x your creativity and strategies to grow and monetize your audience.


Farbod Ardebili was born and raised in Iran/Tehran, where he wrote and directed numerous stage-plays and started an Underground "illegal" Metal Band, which was the first to release a Persian language Metal album on the worldwide platforms of the time.

In 2013, he wrote and directed his first short Film "Ellipsis," and thanks to its international success, he became able to move to the United States.

In the last five years, he's been busy making, moving and forming friendships, and his recent Films and new projects have been supported, recognized, and awarded by organizations such as Sundance Film Institute, Festival Du Nouveau Cinema, Oaxaca FilmFest, and more.


On today’s episode of the Conscious Creator podcast, host Sachit Gupta speaks with filmmaker Farbod Ardebili. They discuss his background and the limits on creative work in Farbod’s native Iran, what brought him to the US and the unexpected culture shock he experienced, his filmmaking, and more. Find out why it was important to Farbod to have a female protagonist in the movie he filmed back home, why he believes art matters, and what it means to be a conscious creator.


Episode Highlights: 

  • Growing up in Tehran, Iran where he wasn’t allowed to create the art he wanted to make taught him that sometimes limitations lead to the most creativity.
  • The image that western media portrays of Iran only represents a very small percentage of Iranians and isn’t anything like that.
  • For Farbod, he actually had reverse culture shock coming to the US, realizing that people here aren’t as open minded and welcoming as we seem in movies.
  • It isn’t the financial means that Farbod sees as the biggest difference between Iran and the US, because he grew up wealthy and actually downgraded by coming to the US, but it’s the freedom.
  • He grew up making films and being creative in other ways, including winning a painting contest when he was a child.
  • Farbod started a band, initially playing softer rock so that they would have an easier time getting government approval, but eventually throwing caution to the wind and playing heavy metal like they wanted.
  • After a while, they started to have issues and had to put the band on hold.
  • To continue making music, Farbod couldn’t focus on the risk he was taking.
  • He got his Bachelor’s degree in Theatre, then transitioned into film.
  • There are a lot of differences in practical terms between music and film, but at their core they have a lot of similarities too; both media have tempo, rhythm, theme, and arcs.
  • Farbod’s process from when he has an idea for a film to actually making it starts with an image and then you need the courage and will to follow it and make it happen.
  • He couldn’t get government permission to make movies because they found out about his metal band, so he decided to make a movie without permission in the middle of the desert where nobody would bother coming after him.
  • He came to the US as a film student about 5 years ago.
  • Farbod wanted to make a movie about his experience but if he wasn’t able to make it as authentic as possible, in Iran, with Persian actors, it wasn’t worth doing and he couldn’t go back to Iran to risk jail.
  • To make it work, Farbod directed the movie from the US while his friends filmed it separately in Iran.
  • The film is about a woman singing in a metal band, which is a big deal because in Iran, women are not allowed ot sing solo in public in any genre.
  • He chose to have a female protagonist because he wanted to highlight the ways that women have it worse than men in Iran.
  • Sachit sees Farbod’s work as giving voice to the voiceless.
  • Farbod doesn’t know what it means to make art, but he knows everything humans do comes from our desire to tell a story.
  • Most stories in the world contain a sense of justice.
  • To be a conscious creator, you have to have an awareness and consciousness about justice and what is right in order to tell those stories.
  • We make art and tell stories in order to find the goodness in ourselves, but the worst parts of ourselves too.


3 Key Takeaways:

  1. Iran isn’t anything like the way the media portrays it to be.
  2. You can’t focus on limitations when you’re making art, or it can stifle you; at the same time, limitations can create the conditions for the most exciting creativity.
  3. Everything humans do comes back to a need for storytelling in order to make sense of the vastness of the world around us.


Tweetable Quotes:

“The one thing that I can tell you that you really should appreciate much more is the freedom you have—freedom to speak, freedom of expression. You can tell, you can say, you can show what you want to say. That’s the biggest reward.” –Farbod Ardebili

“When I was doing it, I wasn’t thinking I’m risking my life, I’m so fucking brave. I knew it was risky, but I wasn’t focusing on that.” –Farbod Ardebili

“I had a professor there, he always used to tell me ‘Farbod, you are so lucky.’ I was like why am I so lucky? ‘You are so lucky because you have such a fucked up life.’ His point was it makes you more creative.” –Farbod Ardebili

“Everything in art, everything that we have achieved in the world, comes from our basic desire to tell a story.” –Farbod Ardebili

“When you tell a story you have to be the good person, in some sense. You have to be conscious to be able to make a judgment that people can connect to.” –Farbod Ardebili



  1. Subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts or on your favorite podcast app and let us know what you think by leaving a rating and a review.
  2. Thank our guest and let them know what you thought of today’s episode — find Farbod on Instagram and say hello!
  3. Head on over to Creators.Show to get new episodes, exclusive guides like our guide on “How to Connect With Busy Influencers”, partner deals and additional bonuses.


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