Peanuts PSA

Alex Grossman

How did you get into directing?
It was just after the writers’ strike. A screenplay I had written, Paternity Party, looked like it was going to get made when the town shut down. Not too long after the strike was resolved a little movie called The Hangover was released. The themes were so similar that my movie no longer stood a chance of getting made. I realized then that writing wasn’t enough. I needed to learn how to direct if I wanted to give my projects a better chance of getting made.

What is your most recent project?
I recently directed four Nissan spots for TBWA\Chiat\Day. It was a unique situation because I was also the freelancer writer on the job. When it came time to select a director, I offered up my services. Everyone laughed. Then I showed them my reel and they laughed again. In a good way this time. I think. I have to really thank the creatives at Chiat that took a chance on me for this project. It’s a difficult leap of faith to suddenly think of someone as a director when you only know them as a writer.

What is the best part of being a director?
Sinking or swimming. I love this. The idea that the project’s success ultimately rests on your shoulders. And laughing on the set. I love that. When an actor does something so unexpected and so funny that everyone instantly cracks up. That’s special.

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?

Without a doubt, Steve Orent at Station has been my directing mentor. I met him when I was a creative at Goodby, Silverstein (look Rich, I remembered!) and still shooting jobs with Buckley and Jenkins. Years later when I started directing, Steve was gracious enough to look at my reel and give me a shot. He’s always super honest with me and I never have to second guess where he’s coming from.