Ezra J. Stanley
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Levi’s “True Love” spec spot
How did you get into directing?
I grew up as a child actor for film, TV, and the stage. I did voiceovers, modeling, opera, all that stuff since the age of six. But I never, and I mean never had the notion of doing anything on the production side even though I was around it all the time. My dad watched a lot of indies and obscure films, while I hung out in the livingroom. Looking back, the Eye was always in me. I saw Kurosawa’s Ran at age five, and I felt the tragedy while recognizing that “there was something brilliant happening here.” In college, I was a computer science major and minoring in cinema just for interest. I walked past a class that was screening a Bunuel film, and it took me over, I could not move. I had never seen anything encapsulate how I emotionally interpret the world. It was an awakening. I had just moved from home, and one morning I got out of bed, my head clearly said, “I have the rest of my life to become a filmmaker. I have another 60 years or so, it’s practically guaranteed!” It’s been a decade, and I’m still moving from that point!
What is your most recent project?
It’s the ever thrilling, ever romantic, what did I just watch Levi’s “True Love” spec ad. The spot takes place in the mid-1960s. A young couple seclude themselves in the middle of the night down Lover’s Lane. It’s horror, thriller with some chaotic love! It’s a commercial that looks like a movie. It was made with a very passionate crew, and beautiful actors. It came out pretty much how I storyboarded it!
What is the best part of being a director?
I love manifesting into this material world what was a once only in the subconscious world. I feel responsible when I’m directing to honor that. As soon as I’m on set, I enter into a extraordinary high level of attention, and thus reach a state of timeless bliss. The camera rolls, and the dream is created in reality, and I experience Chi when it’s perfect. I want every person to achieve the highest expression of their talent from a grip, to the DP, to my actors. This is very important for me.
Have you a mentor and if so, who is that person (or persons)
and what has been the lesson learned from that mentoring which resonates most with you?
No. Never had a mentor, although I’ve been looking for one the whole time. The way life has worked out without a mentor, I’ve learned so much about myself through my own ups and downs. Although I wouldn’t mind if Spielberg snatched me up and said, “Hey I’ve seen your work and I like where you’re going, but let me show you a thing or two!” I’m always here to learn!
Who is your favorite director and why?
I don’t have favorites. I see all artists as contributors to the great Knowledge, Human exploration, and screen entertainment. I do have artists I appreciate though like Terrence Malick, Murnau, Welles, Eisenstein, Kieslowski, Bergman, and Spielberg. I see them or feel them rather, as my fathers and my invisible mentors. Being malleable with film work is important to me so I don’t hold onto one person. I want to create big blockbusters as well as art house films, and whatever other visual medium pops up.
What is your favorite movie? Your favorite commercial?
I do have a favorite film, however, and that’s The Thin Red Line by Terrence Malick. I’ve seen it over a thousand times. I use to fall asleep to it every night in my early twenties. It speaks to a deep questioning I constantly carry. Uncovers truths and philosophizes through the theme of war. These truths are constant, and the questions are timeless. It speaks to how humans are full creators and destroyers. That Nature itself is violent, beautiful, and redeeming, and humans are a part of that great dance of power.
Tell use about your background (i.e. Where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
I’m a native of San Francisco. I was raised in the quiet Sunset District, and if the fog didn’t come in, I’d watch the sun go down into the Pacific. I’m also from Belize, and my parents took us every couple of years to live, and get a third world perspective. I was also raised as a Jehovah’s Witness. I would go to the Kingdom Hall, their church, many times a week. I had good friends who were every age, even a hundred! I observed the human need for spirituality, the sufficient answers before death. I left in much drama and family difficulty when I was seventeen. I did counseling and teaching when in high school, and into college. Many things have aligned themselves with me getting to know the human psyche, and wanting to play with it. I can’t help but want to uplift the human spirit through entertainment, and the film medium allows for the global reach, and the ad world allows for this immediacy. I’m looking to meet the the right agency that wants me to direct the next cinematic Hovis commercial.