Industry Insiders: Mazdack Rassi, the Milk Man - NBC New York

Industry Insiders: Mazdack Rassi, the Milk Man

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    Mazdack Rassi, founder and creative director of Milk Studios, talks about Milk's big plans for expansion on the West Coast. The new studios will open on May 1, with soft openings between May and June. The facility will be fully operational in June.

    When did you hit it big with Milk?
    We came up with it ten years ago. We started as a basically as a rental facility, and over the last five years, we expanded more into a proper media company where we do more creative things, create more content, and are more involved in the creative process. Our goal was never to sort of be a space that was for rent or a rental mentality, but more of like to create a creative space and a crossroads for film, fashion, television, and art. We’re about seven divisions now.

    Why the need for another huge Milk Studios in Los Angeles?
    In the last three to four years, there’s been a big trend in our business in New York where we’re working more with celebrities than with models. The main reason is because they’ve sort of started taking over the magazines. Today, to think about a major magazine with a model on the cover is something that’s so outdated. In the last two years, what’s been happening with our campaigns is that more and more celebrities are encroaching on that business, and they’re all here in Hollywood. The greatest modeling agency in the world is now Hollywood. And it’s not a trend—its something that’s going to stay. Celebrities and their agents are much more open to doing high fashion, covers, and campaigns than they were five years ago.

    How does the new space compare to the 80,000 square feet of Milk Studios in the Meatpacking District?
    We took over the Technicolor studios in Hollywood, which were originally built in 1947. It was part of Paramount Studios, and we’re completely retrofitting it and modernizing it. We took it down to its concrete shell, and now we’re rebuilding from scratch. There are some parts that are original—like the soundstage—and we’re restoring these things back to their original glory. We get very involved in the community and our surroundings. This area reminds us of the Meatpacking District ten years ago.

    Who have been some of your favorite clients to work with in New York?
    So many people. From doing an exhibition with Mike Figgis, who is the award-winning director of Leaving Las Vegas, to having Kerry Richardson doing a shoot in our studios. He is always incredible and unique. It’s also amazing working with young photographers like Alexi Lubomirski. Watching people grow into these wonderful positions is a great gift. When we started at Milk, we didn’t know who the big photographers were. We just knew all the assistants. They were the same age as us, and we had the same sort of ideas. Those kids now have come to a point where they’re in charge, and they choose Milk as their home and their hub. We feed of that energy.

    What are some of your favorite places to go to in New York?
    My favorite bar in the city is Rose Bar. One of my favorite places to eat is Macelleria in the Meatpacking. And another bar would be the Brass Monkey.

    What about LA? The best breakfast is at the Beverly Hills Hotel at the counter downstairs. I think that’s in the basement. Then there’s this amazing restaurant I went to last night, and I would definitely go there again, called Cecconi’s. The bar I like most here is Winston’s