1) What was your first professionally directed work and when was it?
My first professionally directed video was a music video for Ravyn Lenae’s song “4 Leaf Clover” featuring Steve Lacy commissioned by Atlantic records. We shot the video in February of 2018. It was released that following April. The music video is a cheeky depiction of Ravyn Lenae and a crush trying to one-up each other by making the other jealous. Stylistically, we wanted to create a black oriented video that played homage to classic teenage angsty movies like Rebel Without a Cause, the Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, & Cry Baby. This was my first video I ever shot in LA with a limited budget as well, so sourcing a crew and handling production design remotely was a trying experience to say the least, but gained so much experience and we were able to make connections with people that I still work with to this day.
2) How did you get into directing?
I grew up in Chicago and always loved movies but I originally wanted to be a journalist and went to college at Mizzou. My friends from high school were getting into Chicago’s art and music scene. Musicians like Kami, Vic Mensa, Joey Purp, and Chance the Rapper and bands like Twin Peaks were just starting their careers. While still in school, on weekends I would go back and do video profiles on them and other artists like Hebru Brantley and Nikko Washington, because there really wasn’t any outlets covering them in the Midwest. Eventually, people would ask if I would shoot their music videos and it just took off from there. I worked with the Chicago Tribune and Vice but their forms of storytelling always felt very limiting. Coming up with concepts and being on set was really exhilarating and I just fell in love with the process.
3) What is your most recent project?
My most recent project I directed was a small social spot for Nissan’s Woven into Tech campaign. The original concept for the video was to create a quick lifestyle/documentary spot where we check-in with clothing designer Sheila Rashid on her design process for a capsule collection she is designing for the Wearable Art Gala in Chicago. However, I had a few conversations with the creative director and we were able to turn it into a much more creative endeavor and its own full-blown spot.
4) What is the best part of being a director?
The best part of being a director is seeing something that I dreamed up in my head come to life. I originally wanted to be a journalist or lawyer, so when I direct I often times find myself treating it as an argument. I’m often times trying to convince or persuade my audience into believing something. Even with music video, I find myself trying to convey a message or idea to the audience. I’m always in argument or trying persuade someone and I think being a director really gives me a unique avenue to relay my thoughts and ideas.
5) What is the worst part of being a director?
I believe the worst part of being a director is learning how to trust yourself, to trust your vision and also trusting others. Film is a very collaborative medium so you have to rely a bunch on the rest of your crew and micromanaging is never good for a shoot, so learning to trust your department heads and the rest of the crew is really important. Second guessing my vision can be really stifling at times, so I’ve had to learn that to relax and trust my instincts and sensibilities.
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.?
My most recent short film 4 Corners has won a few film festivals and is making its way through the film festival circuit and I plan on making another short film about the realities of being an immigrant in America called Patois; so I am definitely interested in getting into TV and Movies. Those are my long-term goals. In the short term I am really trying to break into the commercial and branded content worlds. For commercial work, I would like to specialize in lifestyle and documentary work. For commercial narrative, I would like to focus on drama and real stories.
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?
Being a self-taught filmmaker, the chance at meeting mentors in the film community has been kind of slim, but I consider my friend Qadree Holmes as good mentor of mine. Qadree Holmes is the owner of Quriosity Productions, a production company based in Chicago that specializes in content from minority, women and LGBTQ+ voices. My relationship with Qadree has really taught me the importance of representation in film and how every person or group has a story to tell and they deserve the right to tell it.
8) Who is your favorite director and why?
Yorgos Lanthimos is my favorite director. I am a huge fan of absurdist film and literature and his stories tend to have those elements. There’s something so special about being able to take an idea or topic and show something so absurd, so over top, so impossible that you're able to then actually expose the truth. Hiro Murai is also really good at this as well.
9) What is your favorite movie? Your favorite television/online program? Your favorite commercial or branded content?
My hands down favorite movie is Do The Right Thing, Mulholland Drive second, and then Wings of Desire. I love Seinfeld but my favorite television show is definitely The Leftovers. The way in which they explore the idea of faith and belief is just so amazing. I am big into existentialism and nihilism, so Leftovers' approach to exploring the way in which we attribute meaning in life I find to be just so interesting.
10) Tell us about your background (i.e., where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
I was born and raised in Chicago to Jamaican immigrant parents. I originally planned on going to school for Journalism and being a journalist before going into law. While in school, I interned at Vice working in their video department, which eventually turned into a full-blown position for a few months. I actually helped pitch the HBO Chiraq episode (though very problematic) and I to this day help as a fixer on most Vice documentaries that happen in the city. I previously worked at Chicago Tribune after college, but found the form of storytelling to be limiting. I also am deeply passionate about fashion (and I try to incorporate this into my film) and have worked in boutique shops in Chicago including RSVP, St Alfred, and Notre.
Contact Andre Muir via email