Walmart’s Black & Unlimited, “The Truth About Life with Beleaf In Fatherhood” (episode of branded content series)

Gabrielle Woodland

Bindery

 

What was your first professionally directed work and when was it? 
Maren Morris--”Better Than We Found It”--Oct 2020

How did you get into directing?
I got my start in directing after writing and directing a piece on Wilma Rudolph titled “#greatnessliveswithin.”

From here, I used that piece as leverage to send to different production companies and labels to say “hey, I can direct.”

What is your most recent project? 
I’ve been diving into photography a lot more recently in addition to directing. Most recently I shot photos for Adidas x Hoop York City collaboration as well as shooting some photos for Footlocker.

What is the best part of being a director? 
The best part of being a director is being able to bring to light stories and issues you maybe aren’t seeing talked about in every day culture and bring those to a more mainstream audience. I love doing work on people and topics we’ve maybe put stereotypes on and showing how un-stereotypical those things really are.

What is the worst part of being a director? 
Sometimes the hardest part of being a director for me is the lack of creativity when you are burnt out. When life slows down for me, it’s almost like I’m coming up with way too many ideas. But when life get’s busy and I’m working on a few different gigs or a job to pay the bills etc. it’s hard to find the time to sit and really think of fresh and creative ideas that you’d be excited to shoot. So it’s definitely good for me to remember to slow down and take time for myself when I need it.

What is your current career focus: commercials and branded content, television, movies? Do you plan to specialize in a particular genre--comedy, drama, visual effects, etc.?
My current focus is commercials and branded content. I also have a spot in my heart for documentaries so think I will always continue to work on those while doing other projects as well. I think there is something beautiful in the every day life that we live, and love being able to give the mundane things we take for granted a cinematic feel as a reminder that the world we live in day to day is beautiful and can be appreciated as much as a narrative film.

I’ve definitely been fortunate to have a few film mentors. Most recently I’d say, Eric Ryan Anderson & Danielle Lee. I think the biggest thing I’ve learned from both of them is to keep making work that I am excited about and really dive into those passions head first and figure out ways to monetize from there...but the main thing is to really hone in on my craft and figure out who I am creatively.

Who is your favorite director and why? 
This is a tough one. I think for film I love Sandra Winther’s work and photography wise I absolutely love Gordon Parks.
What I love about both of their work is the beauty they give to every day life. There’s something about the way each of them captures their subjects, that even though it’s moments we see every day from people we know or pass by on the street, as soon as I’m watching a piece by Sandra or see an old photo taken by Gordon Parks...I’m pulled in.

What is your favorite movie? Your favorite television/online program? Your favorite commercial or branded content? 
One of my favorite movies is Short Term 12.
Favorite TV show is Euphoria or Money Heist.
One of my favorite commercials was a Nikon commercial by the direct trio Pantera. I also loved their Mercedes commercial.

Tell us about your background (i.e., where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
I grew up half my life in Fairfax, Virginia and the other half in Nashville, Tennessee and recently moved to Brooklyn. I got my start in this career through journalism. I worked as an associate producer at a news station right before graduating from college and eventually started working at production company on branded content and music videos. I eventually went freelance for about 2 years and finally got a shot at directing after shooting a piece on Wilma Rudolph.

How has the pandemic impacted your career, art, craft, shaped your attitudes and reflections on life which in turn may influence your work, approach, spirit, mindset?
This is a great question. I think the pandemic for me was a nice pause to come back to center and figure out what I want to be doing next. I was able to finally slow down enough to start writing a short film which I’ll hopefully be shooting soon. But I think the main thing for me was to slow down and not feel so pressured by goals I was creating and making up for myself.

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