M. Keegan Uhl
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Doritos’ “Babysitter” spec
How did you get into directing?
My first films were class assignments in high school. In lieu of writing a paper, I’d get a group together and we would film spoofs of books we studied. They were big hits with classmates as we were basically making fun of “Lord of the Flies,” “Julius Caesar” or what have you. I directed short films as a film major at Middlebury College in Vermont, and I’d say that’s when I was hooked. I worked as an editor right out of school and also dabbled in photography and cinematography. Everything lead me back to directing and writing, and so in the last couple years I have given in to my calling and dedicated myself to directing.
What is your most recent project?
I just wrapped shooting of a comedy web series and we are in post on that, I’m writing a TV pilot (also a comedy), I have my next short film lined up and ready to shoot (a drama), I’m looking for another music video project, and I am in post on a feature documentary about New York City and the singer/songwriter The Reverend John DeLore.
What is the best part of being a director?
Three distinct parts of the process come to mind. First, I adore the birthing of an idea. At this stage there are no limits, it’s exhilarating. But I also get a thrill from the challenge of fitting my creativity into the confines of story, or resources, or client wishes. At the risk of sounding like a teen admitting he loves the math team: coming up with creative solutions gives me a rush. Second, the moment when the hard work is done and what you envisioned takes flight on the screen. And third is watching the audience as they laugh, smile or cry at what you’ve orchestrated. That’s the best part, when it all comes together and someone enjoys it.
What is the worst part of being a director?
Tracking and organizing and creating and assembling the millions of tiny tasks that take you from inception to presentation. And while the process is necessary and usually enjoyable, it is inevitably also at times boring, frustrating, aggravating, hair-loss-inducing, weight-gaining, blood-pressure-raising…
What is your current career focus: commercials & branded content, TV, movies? Do you plan to specialize in a particular genre–comedy, drama, visual effects, etc.?
I am interested in commercials, music videos, single-camera television and film. In terms of genre, I work in comedy, drama and thriller. At present I am looking for more commercial directing work while also developing TV and film ideas.
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?
I don’t really have a mentor, per se. I attend an acting class as a director, and have learned mountains from that teacher about working with actors but also about trusting your instincts, following your gut and staying true to yourself in your work.
Who is your favorite director and why?
I have a lot of respect for what the Daniels have been able to accomplish in the last year or so in commercials as well as music videos. They are so wildly creative and push the boundaries on every project they do. As far as film goes: the Coen brothers, Aronofsky, Soderbergh and Fincher are a few of my favorites.
What is your favorite movie? Your favorite commercial or branded content?
The film I am recommending the most these days is Animal Kingdom, an Australian film directed by David Michod. The mood David creates is astounding. There is a harrowing tension throughout and it all feels so real. It’s fantastic. My other favorites include Requiem for a Dream, Amelie, Mulholland Drive, Eternal Sunshine, Fight Club, Magnolia and Slumdog Millionaire. I love movies that use the unique strengths of film to accomplish what you would not be able to do in another medium (stage, page). In terms of commercials, my recent favorites are all classics: the Old Spice Guy, DirecTV’s “Opulence,” Volkswagen’s “The Force.”