Rock Cowboys

Graham Mason

GOLDEN, Artists First

1) What was your first professionally directed work and when was it? 

In 2017, I produced and directed a web series called Words With Ike, which was rolled out on Instagram, and then licensed for broadcast by both IFC and Vice.

2) How did you get into directing? 

I have an MFA in screenwriting from Columbia University, and after a few years of writing spec scripts, I realized that I wanted to be the person bringing my weird vision to life. So I started making shorts and web series.

I’ve also always loved to draw and took classes on making comics. So in many ways I think my directing is an extension of my drawing and love for graphic art.

3) What is your most recent project? 

In 2019 I directed a feature film comedy called Inspector Ike, which is currently playing on the festival circuit. Keep an eye out for it!

4) What is the best part of being a director? 

I love casting and working with actors. I love writing a character, casting it well, and then letting the actor bring their own energy and ideas to the performance. That is always delightful and surprising and fun.

5) What is the worst part of being a director? 

The worst part happens after I have assembled a first rough cut of a project, and I have lost perspective and feel kind of adrift from the material. But a short break and some fresh eyes usually solves that problem.

6) 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.? 

I am focused on writing and directing more films and I’d love to do a TV show. I am also interested in directing commercials, especially if I can bring my visual style and comedic tone to the project.

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? 

My partner Nicole always tells me to take things one step at time, and that’s something I have to remind myself of all the time.

8) Who is your favorite director and why? 

This is a very hard question but I’m going to pick Roy Andersson. He’s a Swedish filmmaker, and he has a long career of hilarious, visually striking, very moving feature films.

At the same time, Andersson also directed dozens of hilarious, visually striking, and very effective commercials to supplement his filmmaking. I really dig the balance he achieved between art and commerce.

9) What is your favorite movie? Your favorite television/online program? Your favorite commercial or branded content? 

Favorite movie is another impossible question but I saw Rushmore when I was the same age as the main character, Max, and that movie really opened my mind up.

I love PEN15 which is on Hulu and is so funny and bittersweet!

Favorite recent commercial has to be the Spike Jonze Kenzo commercial with Margaret Qualley dancing.

10) Tell us about your background (i.e., where did you grow up? Past jobs?) 

I’m from Michigan originally and have lived in NYC for 14 years.

I worked as a freelance video editor for cable channels for 10 of those years, and cut hundreds of commercials and promos. Having this big foundation of postproduction has been helpful for my directing.

11) 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?

I had projects that got put on ice and I lost some work. But I’ve been able to find some new creative energy. I wrote a new movie and have been working on a few short form projects.

This is a bit of a cliché, but I really do believe limitations are good for creativity. There’s a Talking Heads song called “Stay Hungry” that I think about in this way (and I don’t think the song is actually about this): it’s good to be striving and unfulfilled.

So I’m trying to view this insane moment as a limitation, and to feel creative within it and make the best of it. That doesn’t always happen, but I’m trying!

Contact

For commercial and branded content:
Chris Ehrmann, Managing Director & Executive Producer,  GOLDEN via email 
Website
phone: 212-256-1775

For movies, TV, and other narrative work:
Contact Brian Steinberg, Artists First via email