The following year she won Silver again in Chicago for a stylish spec spot for Strength shoes, starring an athlete who trains harder than his competition. But Alavi has yet to break into the national commercials scene beyond little-seen spots for HGTV and Marquis spas. "I basically just kept working at a very small local production company and didn't really take the time to promote myself," she admits. "I was too busy doing everything on my local jobs" - including sometimes paying for her own craft service.
The Iranian-born but American-bred Alavi didn't go to film school; she was a finance major at the University of New Orleans and later worked as a runway model. In 1989, more or less by chance, she was hired as a PA on a local indie film and found herself elevated to assistant director in two weeks - she'd found her calling. She went on to direct local rap videos before becoming mired in the comparative obscurity of the Nawlins commercials scene. But last year she started her own production company, Manpower Films, with producer/rep Lisa Robinson. Is the name meant ironically? "Not necessarily," she says. "It's more a description of what happens when we get a job. We just descend upon it. It's manpower in the sense of working hard and taking care of business."
Speaking of which, Alavi, 33, is finally seeking to put her relative anonymity behind her. "I'd like to get with a boutique production company, where the directors have a strong sense of art direction and do beautiful work," she says. "Until then, I'll just keep forging ahead." Alavi does do a fair amount of local and regional work with New Orleans agency Trumpet, one of the more creative shops in town, with a comic bent, she says. But isn't being off the beaten production track itself a problem? She doesn't believe so. "New Orleans is a great location, with great resources and talent." But she's prepared to leave the Big Easy, if need be. "I feel like I can go anywhere."