Ana's Playground

Eric D. Howell

How did you get into directing?
My introduction came through stunt coordinating for feature and commercial projects. This experience provided me with a unique opportunity to work with talented actors in intense situations. In addition, I found that I was helping to set camera positions and creating boards for coverage. My film school took place on the sets of hundreds of productions.

What is your most recent project?
Ana’s Playground is a short film that I created simply as a writing experiment. The story quickly got under my skin and drove me to bring it to life. The film was financed through charitable donations and I’m working on finding corporate partners who want to utilize the film for cause marketing.

What is the best part of being a director?
People, story, and passion. These are the elements that a director is surrounded with and are what keeps me coming back for more. A director gets the opportunity to create an impassioned environment and to champion people to do their best work towards a single vision. Then I get to share that vision with thousands of people—fun and terror all at once, just like doing stunts!

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 most with you?

My father as an artist and businessman. He draws, paints, makes pottery and runs a successful architectural business. My wife is my muse who can feel, hear, and see things that most people miss. And my screenwriting professor Hafed who told me that my use of dialogue is my failure as a visual storyteller. This has made my dialogue cleaner and kept me cinematically honest as a director.

Who is your favorite director and why?
This is very difficult and it changes from day-to-day. In this very moment I’m going to say Sam Mendes. To me he is an amalgamation of Hitchcock, Lean, Lumet, Pollack, and Spielberg. He takes great care to create a truly cinematic experience for an audience.

What is your favorite movie? Your favorite commercial?
This is an impossible question to answer, but I will say that the movie that I saw as a child and made me want to make movies was Close Encounters of the Third Kind. (It also made me hungry for mashed potatoes.)

Tell use about your background (i.e. Where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
ost of my life has been spent living in Minneapolis. Grew up in a split home and therefore spent time living in the UK, California, Indonesia, and other places. Spent a few years as a ski bum in Colorado, and lived in L.A. for a while. Most of my work life has been on various film, commercial, or video sets – but I’ve also been a karate instructor and a ski boot fitter.