Scott McFarnon's "Crazy Heart" (music video)

Floyd Russ

Tool of North America

1) How did you get into directing? 
My parents watched very eccentric films at home when I was very young – Wenders, Fellini and Antonioni – but I think the real plant was seeded when I saw “Stargate” in a movie theatre near Munich when I was eight years old and it literally blew my childhood mind away. When I was eleven, I moved from Germany back to LA and didn’t speak any English - it was a rough transition at first. Around that time, I joined the video yearbook club, real nerdy stuff, but I quickly began making short films on VHS and editing on tape to tape. They were all pretty bad but I quickly made new friends through it and learned something from each film. I continued to make films in our high school program, where we even shot 16mm, and ended up going to UCLA.

2) What is your most recent project? 
We just did a great docu-campaign in Shanghai to empower leftover women that got amazing responses all over the world, and I just wrapped a fun sci-fi music video that I can’t wait to release. Oh, and there’s always that feature I am developing. Not a day goes by without me thinking about that so I guess that would the most recent.

3) What is the best part of being a director?
Making things that affect people – inspire them, touch them, consider a different side or give them hope – there’s so much positive in the right type of work. I truly believe that film has a special power almost no other art form does due to how multi-layered it is. Oh, and of course unpredictability. You never know where the next one can take you and who you will get to partner with.

4) What is the worst part of being a director? 
Being away from loved ones for many weeks at a time.

5) 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.? 
There is something I love about every medium of storytelling. My favorite filmmakers don’t just dabble in one genre or category, you need to keep your mind open to remain creative and always be open to trying new things. Overall, I like to create epic emotional journeys for underdog characters, the black sheep, the misfits, and the everyday heroes that never get any screen time. To empower victims and the troubled fascinates me. 
Specifically:-
-Commercials/Branded Content/Interactive: (I don’t differentiate them, every project I get to do with a client I see as an emotional journey that needs to touch the heart and mind). Specifically, I love doing docu-narrative but would really like to continue to push to make them visual. Especially if the talent is a true-life hero or victim who truly deserves bigger imagery. Balancing the intimate and the epic is the direction I want to keep going in.
-Features: (My childhood dream – no director ever said that before, right?). My concentration in film school was actually screenwriting, so I am always writing in my free time. I like films that take bizarre dark characters and construct the storyline in a way that is extremely fun to watch. 
-TV: I actually stopped watching TV for several years in my early twenties, I thought it was brain filler for the masses... man, was I wrong! Online streaming has revolutionized the game. I hope I get to do a full season of a show or a miniseries one day.

6) 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? 
Not one mentor, sadly. My parents, my fiancé, my friends, Wikipedia.

7) Who is your favorite director and why?
Do I have to name one? Impossible! If I have to name one, it would have to be Kubrick. There is no one who has revolutionized so many genres. His images are so striking and powerful, they never leave the viewer, ever. P.T. Anderson is my personal hero. He’s a modern day Kubrick to me. I hope he makes a sci-fi film one day. David Fincher – “Fight Club” changed my life in high school and David Fincher also made me love music videos and commercials. Tarkovsky, Antonioni, Alfonso Cuaron, Scorsese, Godfrey Reggio, Buster Keaton, the Coen Brothers. This is way too hard, email me and buy me a beer and we can talk about this for hours.

8) What is your favorite movie? Your favorite television/online program? Your favorite commercial or branded content? 
Top 11 Movies: “Fight Club,” “2001,” “The Shining,” “A Clockwork Orange,” “Full Metal Jacket,” “Apocalypse Now,” “Pulp Fiction,” “There Will Be Blood,” “Magnolia,” “The Big Lebowski,” and “Trainspotting.”
Commercial: “Write the Future” all the way – Nike, FIFA, millions of dollars and super stars; yeah, a bit cliché but I am a huge soccer fan and have been to the last three World Cups, so it strikes the inner boy in me. 
TV: “Breaking Bad,” “House of Cards,” “Mad Men,” “True Detective” (season 1 only – what Fukanaga did there is truly special), “Game of Thrones,” “Vice,” and of course “The Simpsons.” 
Music Videos: Diane Wolfe’s “Iron Sky” video for Paolo Nutini = breathtaking.

9) Tell us about your background (i.e. where did you grow up? Past jobs?) 
I was born in LA but my parents moved to Hamburg when I was two. I spent most of my childhood there until we moved back to LA. It was a big culture shock for me at the time because my parents divorced shortly after. I’m happy to consider myself American and German. As soon as I graduated college, I moved to NYC and have had a perfectly healthy love/hate relationship with it for the past ten years. Past jobs include Circuit City audio and TV sales, working at a museum, a brief stint in post-production as an assistant editor and runner, and of course plenty of PA’ing.