Tamir Moscovici can’t wait to get up in the morning and go to work. He’s a gifted storyteller and telling stories on film is what he gets to do for a living. The most important benefit of loving his work the way he does? Perhaps surprisingly, he says it’s because he gets to show his two young children that it’s possible to love what you do for a living while still looking after your family. It seems that if he can convey that life lesson, it’s more important than any accolade or award he wins for his films — and he has won plenty.
To understand what makes this talented filmmaker tick, we chose three of his films as a means of exploring his remarkable career in this in-depth interview:
We start with Urban Outlaw, Moscovici’s profile of Magnus Walker, an iconoclast of the Porsche world and a legend in his own right. Moscovici knew he had the subject for his next project the instant he saw Walker profiled on the pages of Total 911, a Porsche magazine based in the UK. Tamir was instantly drawn to the fact that Walker didn’t look like any Porsche guy he had ever seen before — he was more like somebody he would find on the set of one of his films rather than restoring highly sought after sports cars in downtown Los Angeles. The resulting film has wide audience appeal, well beyond the usual gear-heads you would expect. It’s what Moscovici intended — a mere car film was too easy. The result illustrates Walker’s philosophy which mirrors the filmmaker’s: you can do what you love and still put bread on the table. And then some.
Kaz: Pushing the Virtual Divide is Moscovici’s feature-length documentary about Kazunori Yamauchi, the ghost-like genius behind the Gran Turismo driving simulator franchise. As with Walker, the appeal of this film goes well beyond the video game community that is was largely intended to attract. Kaz is the story of a beautiful obsession and quest for perfection in a digital world, bringing the same zen-like qualities and dedication to craftsmanship usually reserved for more traditional Japanese arts. Moscovici knits together a dazzling array of diverse elements for a finished film which is mesmerizing, thought provoking and highly entertaining. And Moscovici returns to the theme of work that goes beyond a mere means of earning money and paying the bills — it can be a calling.
We complete our study with the curiously named Painting Coconuts the film about David Beattie who, at mid-life, was forced to re-think his whole life plan after being laid-off from his conventional Detroit desk job. Once again, Moscovici focuses on the passion that Beattie infused into the next chapter of his life, which was to return to a boyhood obsession of his own: slot car racing. But these are not the usual, snap together, black plastic variety from our Christmases as kids. Rather Beattie’s tracks are superbly detailed, entirely bespoke works of art that are simply stunning to behold. Beattie can’t keep up with demand from a global customer base. He also talks about the importance of finding a vocation as opposed to just a job. Do what you love and the rewards — monetary and otherwise — will eventually come.
Watching these films and in talking with Moscovici about them, we finally had that ‘ah-ha’ moment — Tamir consistently returns to the theme of a passion for craft as a way of life and as a way of making a living. Moscovici’s philosophy, as articulated by the subjects of his films and his making of them, is that you can do both in a seemingly effortless manner.