Lifetime Pictures’ “Welcome to the Fempire” (web content)
1) What was your first professionally directed work and when was it?
I directed a 90 second piece for Reebok focused on an amateur boxer from Brooklyn named William H. Cavali. This was a hyper-realistic film that dramatizes the memories and experiences of a fighter who meditates before every match.
2) How did you get into directing?
I’ve always loved telling stories, but more specifically, experiencing them. I like to believe that my directing career began when I was in elementary school, animating action figures with my mother’s camera. Ever since then, I found myself filming skateboard videos, writing short narratives, creating short films inside video games, and eventually shooting films with my friends in high school. I never took these hobbies seriously until I realized that some of the short films I’ve been making were more enjoyable to me than the sports I was playing, the subjects I was studying in school, and everything else I was doing as a normal teenager. So I took this as a sign that directing was a real passion worth pursuing.
3) What is your most recent project?
I directed a 45 second web piece for Spalding focused on the top point guard for the Portland Trail Blazers, Damian Lillard. The piece is an exploration of the effort athletes put into their work off the camera and out of the spotlight. In the media, these athletes are basically immortalized; they’re portrayed in a godlike fashion. My goal with the piece was to show that top athletes aren’t top athletes solely off their raw talent – there’s immense effort, refined regiments, and a distinct lifestyle behind their gifted abilities.
4) What is the best part of being a director?
The best part about being a director is seeing your vision come to life on set. It’s one thing to write a spot or come up with an idea, but execution is key. Watching the vision unfold, develop, and come to life is a very fulfilling experience – it means that you did your job correctly! Watching your own ideas formulate is truly a priceless experience that cannot be put into words. These are the moments that keep me going.
5) What is the worst part of being a director?
The worst part about being a director is of course the post-release phase of any project. It does not matter how successful the content was, your perspective on your work is always going to be different than the way other people perceive it. So I constantly watch my work from a critical standpoint. Lacking the ability to enjoy my work as much I would like is definitely frustrating, but it is also something that keeps me striving to do better.
6) 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 focus right now is commercials and branded content. I don’t want to specialize in a genre as much as I want to specialize in drawing specific emotional reactions from my viewers. I want to motivate and inspire – plain and simple. I want to tell stories and explore content that makes people punch the air with joy that they are human. I feel that as long as that is the thematic message of my content, the genre is less relevant.
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?
The director of Godzilla and Rogue One, Gareth Edwards, made his first film on a shoestring budget with a crew of five people. Edwards apparently had no plan, but had a vision, and that’s what motivated him. I consider this process to be reflective of a sincere self-trust that I deeply admire.
My father is also my mentor. He was born into poverty in Naples, Italy, and arrived in the U.S. at age 12. He opened his own business to put me and my two siblings through college, showing me what a true work ethic looks like. He taught me that the world doesn’t owe you a damn thing; you have to fight for what you want and treat others with respect in the process.
8) Who is your favorite director and why?
Neill Blomkamp and Ridley Scott are my favorite directors. I think the greatest storytellers create great worlds for their characters to operate in. It’s one thing to bring a character to life, but it’s another thing to bring the atmosphere and tone of a film to life through location and art direction. I think the environments these directors establish are incredibly original. Their ability to make locations feel like autonomous characters reveals a deeper understanding of filmmaking, especially in regard to the scripts they adapt.
9) What is your favorite movie? Your favorite television/online program? Your favorite commercial or branded content?
Gladiator is by far my favorite film. It portrays the rise and fall of epic characters in a way that I feel is rarely seen in other films. Ridley Scott’s interpretation of history, combined with the rich, and classic script by David Franzoni was the perfect recipe. The film feels so Shakespearian, but is told through the lens of a modern director.
My favorite branded content is Dodge’s spot on their founders; John and Horace Dodge. Impeccable visual storytelling combined with emotional acting and killer art direction resulted in one of the best spots I’ve ever seen. Not to mention the voiceover is remarkable.
10) Tell us about your background (i.e. where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
I was born and raised in Boston, MA. I have been living in New York City for 4 years now, and recently graduated from NYU Tisch. Outside of directing, I try to spend as much time with my friends and family as possible. I read and watch the content I strive to create, and I try to choose hobbies that will help me become a better director.
Contact via email