Jordan Ninkovich: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became A Filmmaker

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The number one tip is to breathe and enjoy the ride. Accept the ups and the downs, and always remember you can do anything if you believe and put your mind to it.

As a part of our series about creating a successful career in TV and Film, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Jordan Ninkovich.

Jordan’s love and fascination for movies began at a very young age. He followed in his brother’s footsteps and entered film as an actor. After many years on set, he found his passions were drawn to the set designs he acted on. So in 2017, he began studying interior design and fine arts. He immediately hit the ground running and debuted as a production designer designing for comedies, thrillers, horrors, and rom-com. Recently he worked on the film Tiger Mom featuring Lochlyn Munro and Ken Jeong, where he was immersed in creating a world that respected Asian culture and tradition while placing it in the American melting pot.

Jordan is a sought-after emerging production designer who has amassed an impressive 27 film credits in the last two years. His talents have been able to transform sets from many different genres. His specialty is taking blank spaces and creating a world beyond many producers’ wildest dreams. Jordan’s open-minded reputation and attention to detail have rewarded him with films like Tiger Mom, Spread, and The Holiday Sitter. Each movie required Jordan to work in spaces that needed special consideration for those underrepresented in the film community. In 2022, Jordan was part of Hallmark’s first LGBTQ+ film, telling a story about a couple from the LGBTQ+ community. It was recently nominated for a 2023 GLAAD award for Outstanding Film — Streaming or TV.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I grew up in a small town outside of Vancouver called Richmond in British Columbia, Canada. It was a beautiful place to grow up. My father and mother were busy entrepreneurs running many companies in Canada and the United States. I was raised in a loving, strict household surrounded by business and marketing talk, which allowed me to experience lots of that world and realize arts and being active are more for me. My older brother was a performer and a stage actor, which always impressed me. However, I was more into basketball and the arts and was lost in movies and movie magic. I love basketball and played at a reasonably high level before falling in love with film and television. That’s where I discovered my passion for design and acting.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

Inspired by my brother and loving movies, I decided to break out of my shell and try acting. I did some stage acting, then went into film/TV, which I loved. While performing and landing fun roles and experiences, I quickly noticed my fascination with the sets and worlds around me. I have always loved the design, but this profoundly spoke to me; I felt I needed to look into this more. So, while experiencing different film industry departments, I returned to school to study interior design and digital mediums. My eye for design was born, and I never looked back. I had the pleasure of designing and building residential and commercial spaces while still in the industry. But in my heart, my desire to design and create incredible movies never left. Shortly after, I funneled all this experience into my career as a production designer.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Yes, I have a profound memory I will never forget. I had a small role in Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithson starring Ben Stiller, and word got out that Ben Stiller will be setting up a cast vs. crew private basketball game. One of my co-workers on set knew of my basketball

experience being a “ringer” and decided that I should play for the crew side. At first, I didn’t believe this would happen, but days later, I got a private call from Ben’s assistant, got picked up, and was taken to the private game. I was in shock and full of so much excitement to play the game I love with some of my favorite actors. The best part was being mocked and taunted by Ben, as we played the same position, but let’s say he regretted that after dropping a bunch of 3’s on him. The whole experience was amazing, and I’ll never forget it. Rematch Ben? What do you say? 🙂

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I just finished Pride: A Seven Deadly Sins Story, which I am excited about, and I had the honor of working with the talented director Troy Scott, the lovely Felicia Brooker, and the ever-so-talented Derrick Williams. Pride was the next installment in the series, and looking forward to its release. I also just finished additional shooting days for the up-and-coming film Spread, starring Harvey Keitel and Elizabeth Gillies, directed by the amazing Ellie Kanner and written by Buffy Charlet. I am also very proud to have finished the feature film Tiger Mom, starring Ken Jeong and Michelle Krusiec, directed by Shawn Chou.

You have been blessed with success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?

Great question. Although fun and entertaining, this career path can be sleepless nights going on for weeks. But then again, that’s part of the fun. My advice is never to stop learning and don’t be scared to be patient. Every day I am advancing my skills amongst my workload, from new programs, strengthening my rendering and drawings to keeping up with design trends. Patients will fall in line with allowing yourself to shine through your work, always leave a good impression, and stay genuine and hardworking regarding your craft. Let your work speak for who you are and your character. Everyone has a past and a life outside of work; leave that at the door. If you are serious and love what you do, let that be the element that flows through you, and always support and love your fellow crew and cast members. We are all in the boat together.

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

I think it is essential to have diversity in the entertainment industry. I was blessed to grow up in an environment full of culture and people from every background and honored to have so many amazing friends and co-workers from all sorts of different backgrounds and cultures. My love for art, history, and culture shines through my designs naturally. I want to inspire, educate, and show the beauty of diversity through different mediums. As entertainment industry leaders, it is amazing to have such a platform to showcase beauty in variety to audiences worldwide. It is inspiring to me as a designer to use that technique to showcase diversity through cultural elements, textiles, colors, and design elements. Through our film and television platform, we connect with audiences worldwide and inspire them through stories and visuals to help leave a positive impact on the world.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

Well, I wish before I started that someone would tell me I wouldn’t be sleeping much anymore, nor have time for myself from time to time; the patience one needs to understand the grind and be okay with it. But that failure is part of the journey, and to discover yourself on a deeper level when that happens, don’t let it stop you. Finally, you don’t know everything. I have a new profound respect for sleep, and when I get it, I am blessed but now understand conditioning and don’t need much of it. Haha, I think that’s more the workaholic in me. This last year alone, doing over 15 films, I realized that no matter what, you must find time for yourself, the little things, and the important people in your life. Like most of us on a challenging journey, you accept and team up with patience or let it destroy you. Mine, like most people, are challenged each day, reminding myself this is part of the experience and enjoying it as the reward outweighs the stress from being impatient. It’s okay not to know everything. I am inspired by so many unique talents that I take the time to study and learn from them. This goes back to continual learning, whether small or big. The world is changing around us fast. You got to keep up.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

The number one tip is to breathe and enjoy the ride. Accept the ups and the downs, and always remember you can do anything if you believe and put your mind to it.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

As inflation grows and the severe levels of homeless and hungry rise. I would do everything in my influential power to inspire and bring together elites of the industry and design a platform to make a change to this growing issue seriously. It brings me great sadness to know the amount of wealth floating around that together can make a massive change and, within that, have a program to change the habits or circumstances that lead to this in the first place.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I am blessed to have had a specific, close group of people in my life. Over the years and now, they know who they are, those that work together, speak daily, collaborate weekly, and inspire monthly together; I love every one of you. I have had many heartbreaking losses and issues that have strengthened me in every aspect of my reality, and all those amazing people in my life know who they are. We are all in this together. Thank every single one of you.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

There are three that stand out to me constantly. They are

“Everyone makes mistakes. That’s why there is an eraser on every pencil.”

“We learn very little from victory, much from defeat.”

“Fall seven times, stand up eight.”

The life lesson here is we are human at the end of the day; we make mistakes, and it’s what we do with those mistakes that define us.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

Oh wow, this is a hard one. I would love to sit down and have a coffee or breakfast with Steven Spielberg; being a massive influence as a young boy falling in love with movies as he did, I would love to pick his brain. I would also have to say Harrison Ford; he was my hero growing up. So I can hand him my Star Wars lego to autograph, only to have a high chance of him throwing it back at me or into the street to run it over by a car. If I had a third person, Bryan Cranston, one of my favorite actors, would love to chat about his process.

How can our readers follow you online?

Readers can follow me online on IMDB or

Thank you again. It was an honor and pleasure to be a part of Authority Magazine.

This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

Jordan Ninkovich: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became A Filmmaker was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.