1) What was your first professionally directed work and when was it?
My first professional job was a commercial out of Beirut in the spring of 2015. The spot, “Let’s Get Things Moving,” was for a Lebanese bank, SGBL.
2) How did you get into directing?
Directing for me was a slow transitional process. I began in the industry on the commercial/broadcast side of things working in animation and motion graphics and eventually progressing into VFX. I would always run small projects of my own on the side to push myself where I may not have been able to working for a post house. In doing so I began to pick up projects that I would either art direct or direct out of necessity. As time progressed, the projects grew in size, eventually culminating with a short film entitled Anomaly that I co-directed with a close friend of mine. That was the launching off point where I really began to direct professionally.
3) What is your most recent project?
My most recent project is a campaign that I just shot with Grey NY for Volvo for the 2018 XC60. It’s slated to release later this year and is comprised of a few 30s, 15s, and a single long form piece that is more narratively driven. Additionally, in tandem I’ve been working on a little passion project on the side, which is a 10-15 minute narrative short. Fingers crossed we’ll be shooting in the next couple months.
4) What is the best part of being a director?
Having come from a heavy post background and only really being part of a singular facet of a project, the thing that I find most gratifying with directing is realizing a project through from concept to delivery. I felt that by just working in post, I was missing out on seeing the full breadth of a project through its various forms and phases and being able to control which stories I cared to be part of.
5) What is the worst part of being a director?
It may sound expected, but being away from my family can be extremely difficult. I do absolutely love traveling and experiencing different cultures and perspectives, however FaceTime calls with your toddler can get difficult pretty fast.
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.?
Generally my focus is on commercial work right now. For me I’ve found going through the cycle of concept to delivery over and over helps me work with new and different people all the time and forces me to sharpen my skills. Continually in the background I’m doing my best to concept original scripted work and hope to eventually branch off to do more narrative films.
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 wouldn’t say that I’ve had a single mentor per se, however I have been fortunate enough to encounter friends and fellow industry folk over the years who continue to inspire and challenge me. If there’s anything that I’ve learned from this process, it’s to surround yourself with honest people who are willing to push you as a human and an artist.
9) What is your favorite movie? Your favorite television/online program? Your favorite commercial or branded content?
I don’t necessarily have many “favorites” when it comes to film, TV, and/or commercials. Over the years there have been different pieces of work that have evoked different emotional responses in me that have inspired me in different ways. I remember seeing Jurassic Park as a kid and being perplexed in wonder…and then movies like Terminator and Indiana Jones…eventually movies created by incredible storytellers Fincher, Nolan, Cianfrance, Coen Brothers, and the list goes on. To land on specific artists or films would likely be to discredit the medium as a whole as I’ve been inspired over the years. I guess I just love it all.
10) Tell us about your background (i.e. where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
I grew up as a suburban kid in South Jersey outside of Philly. By the end of high school I was pretty involved in creating whether it be music, photography, painting, motion graphics, etc. I really just loved making things. Somehow between that time and my junior year in college, I ended up studying finance at Rutgers and quickly realized it wasn’t for me. During that time I continued pursuing and teaching myself digital art forms and by the time I graduated I had a little reel that was enough to get me into some post facilities in NYC. After several years of commuting in, my wife and I moved to NYC and I began the transition from a motion graphics animator to visual effects, and then eventually from a VFX compositor to directing.