Soraya Simi, born and raised as a desert rat in beautiful Tucson, Arizona, found herself desperately in need of some water.
At 14, she learned that filmmaking was a legitimate subject you could study in college, and dreamed of attending USC’s film school. Soraya went to an extremely intense STEM-focused high school, where she convinced the school to start a photography program. Soon thereafter, Soraya created Movie Club, an after-school program where she taught to 5th-8th graders an intro to filmmaking and cinema class.
Earning a scholarship to attend the University of Southern California’s BFA Film & Television Production program in Los Angeles, Soraya packed her bags and headed west.
Once in California, the transition was effortless. She explored all corners, further cultivating her deep love and appreciation for the outdoors, especially, uncontestedly, the sea.
While in film school, Soraya created Salt Water, an incredibly personal and vulnerable short film which went on to screen at nine festivals around the world, and won the audience award at the Lift-Off fest in Los Angeles.
After her eyeballs grew tired in the editing basement, and her bones weary of LA’s unrelenting traffic, Soraya needed some fresh air. She signed up for a study abroad program to sail a 134’ Brigantine for 40 days in the Caribbean Sea, researching the oceans and climate change along the way. Throughout this challenging, profound, and once-in-a-lifetime passage, Soraya created a documentary, Where the Water Takes Us, that explores the transformation she and her 19 undergrad shipmates went through. She partnered with companies and brands like the American Sailing Association, AquaTech Imaging Solutions, Mountainsmith, Khala Cloths, The Avasol Foundation, and a few others to help bring the story to life, as well as promote sustainable lifestyle changes, and encourage other young women to pursue filmmaking in the outdoor / environmental niche.
Soraya also cut her teeth as a production assistant for Farm League, which among many precious lessons, revealed to her the potential of branded content in the documentary space. Soon thereafter, Soraya went on to serve as Head of Production at Lukas Dong Films, a boutique production company that creates high-end branded content in cities around the world.
Outside of filmmaking, Soraya’s photography has led her down a number of interesting avenues, awarding her opportunities such as gallery showings at Breakfast Culture Club in Santa Barbara and Groundworks Coffee in Santa Monica, and a few publications to boot.
Soraya is also an avid surfer, climber, sailor, writer, and speaks fluent French.
A recent honors graduate from USC, Soraya is now focusing her energy on directing and producing stories she is deeply passionate about telling, largely revolving around human resilience and solution-oriented ideas in the environmental movement.
American Sailing Association: Filmmaker Soraya Simi Talks About “Where The Water Takes Us”