1) How did you get into directing?
I was a director of photography during my time in college, and once I graduated I began working as a freelance cinematographer in NYC. My key visual influences all stemmed from commercial directors, such as Dante Ariola, Andre Stringer, +JacksonKarinja, David Fincher, etc., and soon I found myself gravitating to the advertising world as well. I began shooting and directing some smaller web content before I connected with copywriter Alex Harvey on the Van Cliburn advert. Things took off after that, and I’ve been directing commercials, branded content, and music videos since!
2) What is your most recent project?
Recently I wrapped on a PSA for a non-profit organization that fights domestic abuse as well as human trafficking. The PSA premiered at a gala event for the opening of their newest shelter, and another :30 cut is premiering soon for online distribution.
I have a passion for PSAs, which provide the opportunity for my work to make a direct impact in people’s lives and change the world for the better. Sometimes they can be emotionally draining, but it’s always worth it in the end.
3) What is the best part of being a director?
Words can’t describe the moment when you see the fruit of your labors come alive in the fluid, engaging medium of film. I guess the closest parallel I can think of is in football, when a play is run that works to perfection.
There are a million ways it can go wrong, but hard work and preparation makes sure that it doesn’t. Then everything comes together, and when you see the result of all your hard work, it really shines. To be able to do this in such a creative field as advertising is truly incredible.
4) What is the worst part of being a director?
It’s quite deflating to put together pitches that don’t come to fruition. Each bid I put together has my passion and enthusiasm behind it, so it’s awful to make that emotional investment and have the project go nowhere. You certainly do need thick skin. I thrive in high-stress environments with little sleep, so that part of the job doesn’t really get to me, but what keeps me up at night is wondering what could have been.
5) 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.?
My visual style is slick, cinematic, and emotional, which naturally lends itself to commercials, online content, and music videos. With the online media market being incredibly saturated, it’s more important now than ever to have material that engages the audience. In my opinion, nothing does that quite like beautiful images that inspire and excite the viewer. This is a great fit with my focus on commercials and branded content, especially my PSA work, as well as hip and stylish music videos.
6) 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 was very fortunate to study under Geoff Erb, ASC., one of the kindest people I have ever had the opportunity to meet, let alone work with. His advice and work ethic follows me to every set I am on. Along with his extensive technical and aesthetic knowledge, he taught me how to stay optimistic and compassionate, even in the most stressful circumstances. It always struck me as funny that such a genuinely friendly person was responsible for some of the most haunting images during his time with Law and Order: SVU. He is truly missed.
7) Who is your favorite director and why?
Tough question, but if I had to choose, I would say David Fincher. I love how you can see his distinct visual style in everything he does, whether it is music video, commercials, or feature films. His earlier music videos with Propaganda are interesting to watch, as you can see his style grow through the years and over the course of various generational aesthetics.
8) What is your favorite movie? Your favorite commercial or branded content?
I particularly like Andre Stringer’s recent work for the NCAA. His subjective camera style does a great job at capturing the appeal that sports has for these young stars, through tough losses and triumphant victories, while also displaying the academic side of a college athlete. To me it is not only an ad for the NCAA, but also a tribute to the dedicated student-athletes across the country. As a UCONN fan, I was also particularly invested in this year’s NCAA tournaments. Go Huskies!
9) Tell use about your background (i.e. Where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
I grew up in Connecticut playing baseball, basketball, and racing cars. When I was 16, I took my parents’ camcorder and made a commercial for my beloved Saab, never thinking I’d be lucky enough to do this for a career.