Did you know: Melina Nakos’s filmmaking journey

Melina Nakos has already directed one film and is on course to take her achievements to the next level. Filmmaking allows her to make an impact on society.

Kaity Gee

Melina Nakos has already directed one film and is on course to take her achievements to the next level. Filmmaking allows her to make an impact on society.

Under Melina Nakos’s seemingly soft and feminine look lies a hardworking, extremely passionate filmmaker that strives for nothing less than perfection.

The summer after her freshman year, Melina had her hopes pinned on attending a writing program named Education Program for Gifted Youth at Stanford but was accepted into their screenwriting program instead. Ever since, screenwriting and filmmaking have taken Melina on one exciting roller coaster ride that she never wanted to get off of.

In fact, Melina has already directed one short film named Poppy and Lavender, and is in the making of more.

Melina always loved having the ability to create characters on stage through theater work in her earlier years, but filmmaking offers her a new perspective on theater which she really enjoys.

Fast FactsRia Gandhi

Filmmaking allows Melina to take full ownership of every aspect of the final product and gives her an opportunity to spark change in her audiences on a much larger level, which remains as one of the key driving factors for Melina as an upcoming screenwriter.

“I love to see people enjoying what I make and the idea of my films completely encompassing an audience thrills me,” Melina said. “But the idea of changing the world with my movies is what really keeps me going.”

Knowing that people’s perspectives of the LGBTQ community have changed because of watching the TV show “Orange is the New Black,” Nakos knows that film can be an effective way to improve society, even helping her face some of her own adversities and challenges.

“I’m not exactly what people think when they think of a director, I’m very, very feminine looking and soft and some people equate that to being ‘weak,’ she said. “On top of that, I’m Latina.”

Knowing that only one woman has ever won an Oscar for best director, Melina is not surprised when people raise eyebrows at her for her desire to be a director. However, Melina doesn’t think it is fair for people to equate quiet women with weakness or incompetence as a leader. To her, a great leader is simply defined by his or her passion, which she knows she has.

Yet, Melina still hopes to improve upon her personal weaknesses that she has noticed in her next films. She wants to focus on keeping everyone in the cast as excited as she is throughout the whole process.

People on set will invariably get frustrated at some point in the process, and when you’re an amateur director, you can’t get emotional about it. You’ll see people pulling away from you and losing interest in the product, and it’s on you to reignite the passion, so you can’t lose your composure.

— Melina Nakos (11)

At the same time, Melina is always excited to think of new ideas and see how they come together.

“The most amazing thing is the first time I see it all in my head after going through the whole script with my crew and decide all the shots and the costumes and the coloration,” Melina said. “That’s just so magical to me, because it suddenly becomes so real.”

Melina usually begins by sketching the characters (none of which are based off of people she knows) and then giving herself time to become completely immersed in them and convinced of the quality of the character. As she delves deeper into each character and their own quirks, the storyline begins to take its shape.

“It’s a partnership with my cast, and I will never deny that,” she said. “I take my actor’s ideas and I incorporate them if I like them or I suggest something new if they’re not what I’m looking for.”

Members of the cast of one of Melina's plays rehearse. Melina has directed one fil.
Courtesy of Melina Nakos
Members of the cast of one of Melina’s plays rehearse. Melina has directed one film.

Yet to Nakos, chemistry between the cast remains a key component of filmmaking for Melina.

“With films, actors can’t fake anything so it’s incredibly important for the actors on screen to truly embody their characters and their relationships,” she said.

To help her perfect these qualities, Melina will join the residential USC Cinematic Program over the summer for five weeks to deepen her knowledge about the filmmaking process which includes the techniques of putting film together and the qualities required to successfully create chemistry between a cast.

Stepping into this process day by day, Melina hopes to continue to stretch her limits and push one step further than people already have.

“As a human being, I hope to be a trailblazer for every person who was told ‘you can’t do that’ for whatever reason,” she said.