Google Play for Pets (April Fool’s Day Video)
1) What was your first professionally directed work and when was it?
Having gone to Film School at USC, one of my old professors connected me with the marketing department at the USC School of Engineering because they were looking for someone to direct a new promo. This happened 2 years ago when I had only really made a few no budget spec commercials with friends, so this was my first real (read: paid) directing opportunity. It was great to have the luxury of hiring a proper-sized crew and work with more professional equipment. It was a very valuable and challenging introduction into the docu-style commercial world.
2) How did you get into directing?
As soon as I fell in love with filmmaking, I was very motivated to not become a director. I thought “why should I assume that I’m best fit to start at the top of a process I don’t really understand yet?” Having just started film school, I decided to work in every production role on various film sets and see which department I best connected with. By the time I worked my way through the call sheet, I discovered that my passion for storytelling is best realized from the perspective of a director. I love translating and evolving the story from the page, breaking scenes down with actors, crafting performances, story-storming with the crew, experimenting in the editing room – I loved the whole process of being a director and knew I had to dive into that role head first.
3) What is your most recent project?
I ended 2017 with a two-spot campaign for TripAdvisor. They were launching a huge redesign of their mobile application and wanted videos spotlighting how useful it is for travelers, beyond just being a network of customer reviews. We shot all over Los Angeles to highlight that the app is a comprehensive tool for also selecting and booking hotels and activities, not just restaurants. We wanted to show how TripAdvisor is a great tool for planning your entire trip.
4) What is the best part of being a director?
Telling stories is the best! I love problem solving with creative people. The process of taking words on a page and creating an immersive sensory experience is the most exciting challenge. Interpreting and translating stories in such a collaborative space is just so much fun. Bouncing ideas back and forth, throwing around “what if” – for me, there is nothing better. I can’t describe how much I light up from seeing an actor courageously discover something true in a fictional scene.
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 love creating commercials and branded content. My work really thrives in that unique structure – from the successful collaboration with the agency, the client, and my production team. As both a writer and a director, it’s a great space where I have the opportunity to push the creative to interesting and original new levels. I specialize in both the docu-style and comedy genres. Each of them play to my strengths and I’m really passionate about telling those types of stories. It was also really fun to combine them for “Google Play for Pets,” the April Fools Day spot I made with Bokeh, a creative agency in the San Francisco Bay Area.
10) Tell us about your background (i.e., where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
I grew up sleeping through earthquakes in San Francisco. As a child, I spent most of my time with hobbies such as close-up magic, robotics, debate, as well as improv and sketch comedy (I was VERY popular in school). My past jobs include being a counselor at a Lego Robotics Camp, a wedding videographer, an optometrist’s assistant, a Locksmith, and co-creating the filmmaking website MakingOf.com with actress Natalie Portman. Before I was born, my parents fled from Soviet Russia to the Jewish community in San Francisco. It was really inspiring for me to grow up witnessing the American Dream firsthand and learning the value of hard work, community, and storytelling. Having spent my whole life hearing the incredible stories my family would tell me shaped my understanding of just how powerful they can be.
Geno Imbriale, ArtClass
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