Mercedes Benz’s “Stuntman”
1) What was your first professionally directed work and when was it?
My first professional job was a product video brochure for the Mercedes-Benz CLS in 2018. I was working as a creative director for their AOR and I had a good rapport with the production company that was handling the job. It was the perfect opportunity to step into and get a taste for fast-paced production. A few months later I was entrenched into my own production for Stuntman.
2) How did you get into directing?
It all started with 3 siblings, a stack of Blockbuster videos and a never-ending pile of clean laundry to fold on the weekends. My fascination for film took hold and set me on a life long quest. A week after receiving my degree in Film Production I was off to Hollywood chasing my dream of acting. A year after that, I was looking for a job that could pay my bills. Voilà! I found myself in the world of advertising. I returned to school in Minneapolis receiving a degree in Art Direction, before packing my bags for my first advertising job in Miami. Over the course of the next 15 years I worked for major agencies across the US while creating a name for myself in the luxury auto space. The more I saw my ideas come to life, the more I realized where I really wanted to be.
3) What is your most recent project?
"Stuntman" is the latest and greatest for me. I’m currently working on a new spec spot for a whiskey brand which will go into production next month.
4) What is the best part of being a director?
All of it really. Taking a concept on paper and building it into a visual story within your mind. Strategizing with a team on how to bring it to life. The energy and excitement of being on set the moment the camera turns on. The challenge of orchestrating a team to create one unified vision within that moment. The pressure of problem solving on the fly making the best of a situation when things don’t go the way you had planned. Directing has brought all of my passions for film together into one defining role. It’s an epic job, and one I want more of every day.
5) What is the worst part of being a director?
Seeing your shots get killed on the edit room floor. And it’s exactly why editors are essential to the process. Omakase.
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 want to continue creating commercials and branded content with a goal to work on features one day. Along my career in advertising I have worked on an array of genres, and all have been grounded in strong story-telling. I love brilliantly executed comedy and making people laugh. I also really get into action and the technical complexities of visual effects. Not the cheat however, I embrace the challenge of capturing as much in camera as possible. To me that’s the beauty of it all. Fusing together old-fashioned ingenuity and desire with modern technologies.
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 don’t have a particular mentor, however, I have been privileged to work alongside some extremely talented directors and cinematographers along the way. One unifying theme that I’ve taken from my time with them is that you can never be too prepared going into a shoot. And always be ready to work through the unexpected.
8) Who is your favorite director and why?
Hitchcock and Kubrick were probably the biggest influences on me growing up. I really took to their innate attention to detail within their scenes, their lensing choices, and the performances they could bring out of their actors. Hitchcock’s gift at twisting the audiences mind until the very end still mesmerizes me. Kubrick’s striking visual approach to his sets and innovative filming techniques are awe inspiring.
9) What is your favorite movie? Your favorite television/online program? Your favorite commercial or branded content?
The Talented Mr. Ripley was one of those films that really resonated with me. And then, I was introduced to Purple Noon and it only got better. The plot, the performances and the locations are just incredible to me. I can watch both these films over and over. My favorite television program is NOVA, it fulfills my inner geek. Having worked in advertising for over 15 years, I gravitate towards ads that are simplistic in approach, beautifully shot and tell a clear and memorable message. Monster's 2010 Super Bowl commercial titled "Moose Butt" hits that one on the head for me.
10) Tell us about your background (i.e., where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
I grew up in Vero Beach, Florida, spending a majority of my time surfing, diving and fishing. Fascinated with nature I began drawing animals as early as I can remember. In college I bought my first camera, a Nikon FM, while working for a local photographer. I got my first taste of Europe at age 20 which set forth an ongoing love of foreign culture. After graduating I moved to LA in pursuit of acting while studying at the Groundlings. I would later find a career as a creative working at top ad agencies throughout the US with a focus on luxury automotive brands. Today I live in NYC where I continue my love for art while working in film, photography and large-scale oil paintings.
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