Local producer to premiere ‘Arctic’ at The Maple

By: Sarah Wojcik, Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published February 19, 2019

 Timothy Zajaros Jr., from Farmington, is a Los Angeles producer of the soon-to-be-released “Arctic,” set to premiere Feb. 22 at The Maple Theater in Bloomfield Township.

Timothy Zajaros Jr., from Farmington, is a Los Angeles producer of the soon-to-be-released “Arctic,” set to premiere Feb. 22 at The Maple Theater in Bloomfield Township.

Photo provided by Timothy Zajaros Jr.

 “Arctic” will premiere Feb. 22 at The Maple Theater in Bloomfield Township.

“Arctic” will premiere Feb. 22 at The Maple Theater in Bloomfield Township.

Photo provided by Timothy Zajaros Jr.

Advertisement

FARMINGTON — Timothy Zajaros Jr. worked to perfect his craft for some time to get to where he is now: at the top.

Zajaros — whose name may be familiar in the Farmington community — grew up in the city and is a Los Angeles producer, with works such as Netflix’s “Mudbound,” “Mom and Dad,” and the soon-to-be-released “Arctic” under his belt.

“Mudbound” received four Oscar nominations in 2018. “Arctic” — an intriguing, heart-pounding survivalist film starring Mads Mikkelsen — is set to premiere Feb. 22 at The Maple Theater in Bloomfield Township.

Zajaros, a graduate of Detroit Catholic Central High School and Western Michigan University — with a finance degree in 1998 — comes from humble Midwestern beginnings that he said laid the groundwork for a plot twist in his real life: moving to Los Angeles around 2005 to make it big in the movie industry. 

“It’s funny, because I’m a finance major and never had any intention of getting into the film business,” he said. His successful, off-the-beaten-path venture was not something he had thought much about while in the mitten state, “because it is not an industry most people get into.”

But when he caught the film bug from a local café owner, he realized that outside of Michigan was where he needed to be, and his friend, Farmington Hills resident Lance Kawas — who writes and directs feature films — encouraged him to go.

Zajaros met Kawas when Zajaros was about 16 and got a job working in downtown Farmington at The Grand Café, which Kawas owned.

“He was writing scripts,” Zajaros said, adding that eventually Kawas directed his own first movie. “I was always intrigued by that.”

Kawas said he bought the coffeehouse in order to pay the bills while writing his screenplay in the early 2000s, eventually selling it to pursue his passion full time.

Kawas said he worked with Zajaros for a “very long time,” and when his friend wanted to go to Los Angeles, Kawas encouraged him to go.

“He went to L.A., and now he is a big-shot producer,” Kawas said, adding that he has seen the reviews of “Arctic,” and he is going to see it Feb. 22.

“It’s going to surprise a lot of people,” Zajaros said of the film.

“One thing about Tim — he always had that drive. In comparison to other people, he had that drive and ambition to conquer, and it is a very hard thing to do,” Kawas said. “By God, he actually did it. I am not surprised.”

“Arctic,” Zajaros said, is told in a way that has “never been done.”

“It’s really all about the survival and not the backstory,” he said. “You’re living with him the whole time … with him when he goes through his struggles.”

The movie was filmed in Iceland over a period of several months.

“If you see the movie, you are going to see how epic Iceland is and how cold it is,” he said. “In the movie, we don’t have a lot of special effects in regard to weather, because the weather was just that bad.”

After finishing college, Zajaros worked as an investment banker in Detroit for an automotive company. He traveled and made a lucrative career for himself, but his moviemaking friend had gotten to him, and he saw himself doing something else.

“I was young at the time and said I wanted to give this whole movie thing a try,” he said, adding that moving to Los Angeles had its perks: the warm weather and close proximity to industry people. 

Zajaros said his heart, however, will always beat for Michiganders.

“I love Michigan people and Midwest people — that is something I love dearly,” he said. “They are definitely good people. Here (in L.A.) it is just different. It’s been a grind. I started working for a talent agency when I got here.”

His career landed him in Thailand in 2010, where he was hired to write and produce a documentary. In 2014, he and a friend, Christopher Lemole, decided to start a Los Angeles-based company called Armory Films.

According to armoryfilms.com, the production company creates, develops, produces and finances “high-concept and commercially viable content.”

Zajaros said that he is looking forward to coming back to Michigan for the premiere of “Arctic.”

His advice for future producers: It’s about putting in the time to climb the ladder.

“Everybody has to put in their dues,” he said, adding that he is looking forward to enjoying what his company produced.

“I’m excited to be able to share this movie with friends and family at a theater,” he said.

Zajaros’ mother, Lisa Lilly, of Clawson, credited Kawas with her son’s initial interest in the movie industry and Zajaros’ perseverance for his success.

“(Lance) was (Tim’s) mentor, and he just opened up doors and windows,” Lilly said. “Timothy was really surprised that you could sit there and write a film and have dreams of making it.”

She said that after graduating from Western Michigan University, Zajaros lived with her for a year and then decided to pack up his Geo Prizm and head West.

“He said, ‘I have no idea what I’m going to do, but I’m going to go out West and see if I can find my dream,’” Lilly said. “I’m so proud of my son, but the journey was nothing simple.”

She said the five-day car ride included Zajaros sleeping in his vehicle in the mountains, and once in Los Angeles, he performed odd jobs while working to get his foot in the door of the movie industry.

“From there, it just evolved,” Lilly said. “Most people, I think, would have given up, but he wasn’t going to be broken.”

She said her son’s love of people, experience in finance and business, and creativity have all helped him thrive.

“When he’s on-site making films, he makes everyone happy. He’s the go-to man, and that shows huge character,” she said. “He still comes home, and he absolutely loves to come home and have the same food. He’s still the same person even though he’s leading a larger-than-life (existence).”

Lilly said she is excited to attend the premiere of “Arctic” at The Maple with a large group of family and friends.

For more information, visit www.armoryfilms.com/about.html.

Advertisement