Alumnus Sev Ohanian


By Erika Martinez 

Thirteen years ago, former Hoover High student and Tornado Media journalist Sev Ohanian found himself in a great dilemma. Or to be more precise, a “grade” dilemma.

“I was in trouble in one of my classes,” Ohanian said. “I had a disease called senioritis.”

Ohanian, who was bound to attend UC San Diego in the fall, was looking for a way to earn some extra credit in his AP Environmental Science class. He recalls his teacher taking pity upon him and giving him the option to write an essay that could potentially save his grade.

“I didn’t want to write an essay, so I asked if I could make a video instead,” he shared. “And she was like ‘sure’, and I was like ‘cool’, but I had no idea how to make a video.”

It was during the last few weeks of high school that Ohanian would produce his very first documentary: A film titled “Trash”. Borrowing his father’s home video camera to film and interview teachers and friends around campus, Ohanian created a 20 minute video on the Hoover trash problem in just three days.

It is when he screened the film to the class per his teacher’s request, however, that he realized the true power of cinema. To his surprise, the class was fully engaged in the film, even causing his teacher to tear up.

“The experience of the class seeing a video I’d produced made me realize that if I could make that in three days and captivate 20-30 kids,” Ohanian said. “Maybe I can pursue this career after all.”

And since graduating in 2005, he’s done just that. “Searching”, an American thriller co-written and produced by Ohanian, hit wide release last Friday and has reeled in excellent reviews from movie critics across the nation.

Shot via smart-phone and through computer screens, the film employs an untraditional take in following the story of father David Kim (played by John Cho), who goes to great lengths to find his missing teenage daughter (Michelle La).

However, it’s the unique way in which the story unfolds that place viewers in Kim’s shoes as he traces his daughter’s digital footprint.

When asked about the inspiration behind the movie, Ohanian shares that he and co-writer Aneesh Chaganty wanted to “create a film that resonated with people on a real-grounded level”. Most importantly, he hopes audiences will be entertained.

The film, which coincidentally stars John Cho, a Hoover alumnus from the Class of 1990, is not only a successfully executed thriller full of twists and turns, but an inspiration to all Hoover students: that through hardwork and dedication, achieving your dreams truly is possible.

“No matter what your passion is, whether it’s filmmaking like myself or whatever you’re studying in school,” Ohanian said. “Don’t wait for others to give you approval. Just go out and do it.”

Watch “Searching”, now playing in theatres nationwide.