Murad Dadashev: "The cause, business, project have to be founded on the willingness to do, create and dream"

Director and founder of MGP Company on how to build a career in XXI century and develop creative industries in Azerbaijan.

Murad Dadashev is well-known not only in Azerbaijan but also abroad, he is director and founder of MGP Company ("M Group Production") established in 2003. During 12 years the company's projects had top TV ratings. One of its most watched TV projects is "Merj Show" (the Bet) - first project of the company, it had top TV show rating for long time. The most popular regular program as well as the best project in its genre recent years was "The Machine" reality show. Also, comedy TV show "Just Like That" is worth noting which broadcasted for 3 years and also had top rating. In 2016 “M Group Production” established cooperation with ENDEMOL SHINE GROUP and soon Azerbaijani TV audience will see licensed version of the world known show "Deal or No Deal". In February 2017 MGP releases new comedy movie "The Feast". Besides TV shows, the company organizes marketing, corporate and private events, writes creative concepts and scripts. It is actively involved in government and city events. Today Murad Dadashev is going to give his view on secrets of success and development of creative industry. 

What do you think, Murad, about role of culture and creative industries in Azerbaijan?

I think, culture is one of the most important development factors in any country, not only Azerbaijan. Culture means values, morale, traditions, mentality and even everyday life. No country can exist without culture. As to creative industries, their development is also important for any country but is defined by skilled and correct approach to this in general: approach of ordinary person and the government. In some countries they are well developed, in some others they just emerge. Our creative industries just start to develop and the market is very small. Although, in many countries creative industry brings huge income to the government, even higher than real economy does. But we just learn how to do it in Azerbaijan. Therefore, it is important to get integrated into world economy. We have all preconditions for that. We have unique music culture, literature culture despite three changes of alphabet in the country's history! We have unique monuments of architecture and integration of cultures - Albanian, pagan, Christian (till IV century AD), Muslim, Zoroastrian... Unique nature... All this provides excellent ground for promotion of the country in the world. But we have to learn how to do it. At what level, what laws... We need to adapt it to the modern standards. We can become a wonderful country for the entire world... All we need is to learn working in Western style. For example, recently I produced a movie. An American producer arrived. He watched it and asked what company will do trailer for the movie. If I would like him to recommend the one. I was surprised: will anyone else do it? Can I not make trailer of my movie? And he explained this is not right. Trailer is done by professionals. People that can see something in your movie what you may not see. What do I want to say? We need to learn by practice and integrate our knowledge in professional and adaptable way. 

What do you think, are difficulties in creative sector development in Azerbaijan? What assistance can be provided to the sector development?

I think, first of all, traditions, mentality... I would never forget my father's birthday. One very serious person, his friend asked him: "what are you going to do with Murad?" My father asked: "what do you mean, what's wrong with him?" He answered: "I am sorry for him. How long will he hold that microphone on TV... It's time to do something serious. Open a restaurant, hotel. Do something serious..." My father laughed long afterwards. Many still do not get that what I do is business. They believe this is something childish. But business means own a restaurant... Besides, many think that in order to create an industry or business, huge funding is needed and then high income is a must. This is traditional approach too. In fact, in order to create creative business, creative thinking and interesting approach are needed. And money... Believe me, none of my projects brought me huge income for all these years. We do not have our equipment to date, we rent it. 

How to assist? By showing an example. Any victory starts with victory within yourself. When you are confident in yourself, your arguments, your strength. Only successful, interesting creative projects will encourage development of the new ones. I often have new project proposals. I try to assess the situation realistically and scrutinize every proposal. A new project may be successful at first but what may happen next? What is next? You always need to think about future. Why do you think "The Machine" show was successful? I together with my guys had been developing the project for 2.5 years. We had stood by the car ourselves, consulted doctors and psychologists. During the work we had disputes and sometimes we even were not on speaking terms due to division of opinions.

And it heavily depends on social environment. First of all, on parents, their role in your childhood. If parents breed up self-confident child, encourage his talents, grow him self-sufficient, he will be successful. Second, friends, colleagues, acquaitances. I am lucky in this sense. I was always encouraged. And this is very important for me. In culture and art there are much more resources than they seem. You just need to feel how and what to do and with whom.

Many former KVN team members became showmen, actors of TV shows or theaters. How did you get specialized in TV, though you are also considered very popular presenter? Why?

I think, actor is specific professional activity. It would be wrong in my view to say that KVN team members are actors. After KVN you need to study and work a lot to become an actor. I chose to be producer. This is something close to me. Although I do a lot as presenter and as a kind of "player-coach", I like working off-camera much more. I am more of organizer type. I know and like this process. For me, talent is not a crucial point. The bottom-line is working a lot. And here there are many components. Especially, in Azerbaijan circumstances. Professional producer notion only emerges in this country. Large international projects implemented to date gave large impetus to producer business development now. Unfortunately, we do not have universities that give producer degree. But it is very important. We learn by our experience. In fact, both practice and education are important.

 Our company M Group Production is one of first producer companies in Azerbaijan. And it was very difficult to establish it. In the past there were no producer companies. Many did not even know what it means to be a producer. Almost 14 years passed. Nowadays, we produce audio and visual products, programs and shows. M Group Production is one of the largest event companies in Azerbaijan. We organize various events where we often invite world known stars.

You are successful businessman. At least, your business has its name, image, profile, known brand. What was your path from Murad Dadashev, KVN team member that was on TV for the first time to Murad Dadashev, well-known TV producer with your own company?

This path has many steps:


At certain point I found myself in this kind of situation when "circus has gone but clowns have stayed"... I mean, I realized that for me KVN is over... And I asked myself what to do next. KVN was a big part of my life. I spent almost 10 years in shows. and suddenly, I realized that I do not have profession... Of course, I was a university graduate with a degree in psychology. But I was not a psychologist. And I also realized that people keep calling, inviting, asking for a good joke and humour. And I always have to be in good shape and good mood. but how can I maintain this image with empty pockets? And then I understood that I need to start doing something. I mean, I had motivation. And I joined Jabir Imanov on TV. Our first producer was Samir Asgarkhanov. I worked on TV as sort of a star but happened to be not needed as a star. For TV staff I was just another employee. I had to start from a scratch. We started our first project at Baku studio. I literally ran with tapes from one floor to another, I observed how new television emerged. That was quite fascinating for me. Much more than cinema. It was an entirely new world for me - TV that pays and gives you a chance to find your way. I launched programs, films, programs that became popular.


Another important factor of my success is my parents which were my audience. I have very interesting family. My father is Russian-language Bakuvian and mother is from Ganja. My mother is a musician and she is closer to art while my father is a transport worker, though he is fond of jazz. They are creative people and encourage me in new projects. Thus, I knew preferences of both Russian and Azerbaijani language audiences when I was working on programs and shows. I managed to create a unique product interesting for both of them. I had two focus groups and two critics. This constant communication with my father and mother resulted in unique product. This helped me a lot. Audience attraction and coverage is one of the biggest success components. 


The third and important component for me was my recognition. My personal money was not enough to realize my ideas on my own. I had to get sponsor support. People recognized me at meetings. They smiled which meant they knew me. Of course, this was one of most important components of my success but it was also responsibility: I could not risk other people's money. I am a bit victim of my image - I cannot afford small-budget projects.

Lack of jealousy, evil... Obsession by idea

I have to say about it. You will never have success, development and promotion if you do something just for spite. If your motivation is to get something that you do not have but someone else does. Someone did something good and you will do better just for spite... Business, project should be based on willingness, creativity and dream, i.e. on something positive and on self-sufficiency and love. Media business, show business, creativity is quite dangerous area, complex with many invisible hidden circumstances. Not all young talents are welcome at once with open arms. And therefore, only honesty and sincere strive to do something, to create something you can do may help. And reputation is something that has to be taken care of as much as possile. You should be honest with everyone, sponsors, employees, audience... And overall, I think that successful people are not eager to earn money or get famous but obsessed by the idea, creativity, the process itself. I am obsessed by my ideas. And this is an important factor.


For me, the bottom-line is human factor. I gew up in a team. I know what team background means. Team means to correctly assess things, roles, success and failure. KVN helped me a lot in this sense. RIP, Anar Mammadkhanov, you did a great job.  And watching his work, actually working with him, I understood what team means and how to work with people. I am proud of my MGP company (M GROUP PRODUCTION). I believe, everything that I gained - TV team, experience - are the most valuable for me. Projects can be liked or disliked, they may appear modern today but in three years you may find them real crap. The bottom-line is experience that we gained and the team. Many successful TV workers grew up in our company. And we retained good relations. I really appreciate people I worked with.


Next important factor is self-sufficiency. When I find out that someone is in depression or lonely or bored, I hardly understand it... How can you be bored? I am never bored with my ideas. Because I have so many ideas that I seem to spend years just articulating them. They say, it is impossible to change life overnight but possible to change thinking overnight that will change life. Self-sufficiency is an important factor for me. 

Social component

Any business, product should have its audience. If your projects and business and creativity are far from the society, they will be far from audience.  Society is extremely important for a producer, for a person that creates a product for TV, for a spectator. The project is successful when my questions at a talk show are kind of inspired by the audience. Though they say that our world today is the world of technologies that will enslave everyone, this is nonsense. Technologies are developed by humans, spectators. Everything should be social-oriented.

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