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1) What was your first professionally directed work and when was it?
A former colleague and close friend of mine hired me last fall to do a small series of interviews for a non-profit. It was a small job but I cherish the memory because it was an important step in my early career. Earning a paycheck by performing the activity that you love most is truly a wonderful feeling.
2) How did you get into directing?
I knew I wanted to get into directing the day I learned that filmmaking was a career that anybody could actually pursue. Coming from Guatemala, a country with a small but growing motion picture culture, making movies always seemed like something foreign, a job reserved to people who were born into it. Fortunately, I fell in love with the art form and watched enough films to realize that it was something that I could do as well. I picked up a camera and started having fun with my friends.
3) What is your most recent project?
I directed a short film in March that I’d been trying to make for over a year or so. It was a thrilling shoot and a great learning experience. We’re in the editing phase now and I’m very excited with where the film is headed.
4) What is the best part of being a director?
All of it. It’s the activity that I love the most so I try to enjoy every aspect. There are tough times every now and then when you hit a speed bump… But coming up with solutions to problems is part of the fun, especially if you’re collaborating with friends or people who you appreciate and admire.
5) What is the worst part of being a director?
Finishing a project. It’s obviously great to have the fully realized product, and that’s certainly the goal, but there’s always an element of sadness that comes with letting go and moving on.
6) What is your current career focus: commercials and branded content, TV movies? Do you plan to specialize in a particular genre–comedy, drama, visual effects, etc.?
I just want to work and keep on improving. It may sound obvious but my focus is always on continuing my learning. What better way of doing that than by shooting? If somebody wants to hire me, great. If not, no problem. I’m fortunate to have friends that also have fun filming and that keeps our creative juices flowing. I love all formats, but movies and commercials are what originally enticed me. As for genres, I dig them all. Comedy is what I lean towards in commercials but when it comes to film, again, I love it all.
7) 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 with you?
I was Fredrik Bond’s sidekick for a couple of years and it was one of the best times of my life. Having not gone to film school, I was lucky to learn firsthand from a commercial master. I vividly remember watching and rewatching his Nike "The Other Game" ad when I was 14. I’m an absolute soccer aficionado so I also came across his Heineken campaigns by way of the Champions League, and those are advertising classics. When it comes to lessons, I learned many from him. However, what resonated with me the most was the enjoyment that Fredrik got from directing. He never said this out loud but I could see it day in and day out: he simply loves what he does.
8) Who is your favorite director and why?
This is an impossible question to answer. There are tons of directors who you can learn from and appreciate for different reasons. However, the ones I find myself revisiting the most in the film world are Paul Thomas Anderson and Stanley Kubrick. I also constantly check in with Jarmusch, Lynne Ramsay, Scorsese, and Fincher. When it comes to commercials, I have to say Jonathan Glazer. He’s the king in my book. I’m obviously also a big fan of Fredrik Bond and find myself watching a lot of his work as well as ads directed by Dougal Wilson, Spike Jonze, and Frank Budgen.
9) What is your favorite movie? Your favorite television/online program? Your favorite commercial or branded content?
This is another impossible question to answer because there are so many films that I love… But if I had to pick one, I would say There Will Be Blood. I’ve seen it a ridiculous amount of times and find myself loving it more and more with every watch. It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia is my favorite TV comedy and The Wire is my favorite TV drama. As for commercials, I can’t limit myself to just one, but these are some of the ones that made me fall in love with the medium: Glazer’s “Swimblack” for Guinness, Gilliam’s "The Secret Tournament" for Nike, Matthijs Van Heijningen’s "The Bear" for Canal+, Iñárritu’s "Write the Future" for Nike, and Fredrik Bond’s "Peter Pan" for What Now Magazine.
10) Tell us about your background (i.e., where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
I was born and raised in Guatemala City. My family is still down there and I hope that I reach a point where I can split my time between the US and Guatemala. I played soccer throughout my youth, and it brought me to the US. After college, I moved to Los Angeles and started out as a PA. I ventured into the AD department and acted as a script reader for a management company before getting an opportunity to work at a talent agency. I assisted Robert Arakelian in the production department at UTA before working with Fredrik Bond, and it was a great experience. Robert is the best at what he does and he’s one of the coolest cats I’ve ever met. Like Fredrik, he’s a person who loves his vocation and it shows in his work.
Contact Alfredo-Rodriguez-Allen via email