1) How did you get into directing?
Becoming a director was a natural progression for me. I wanted to flex my creative muscles, and put more of my stamp on the work I was producing. I thought it would differentiate our company’s content.
When I worked with Alex Bogusky on Good Karma $1, he gave me a piece of advice that sums up why I love directing. He said, sometimes you just have to make what you want to make and not worry about what everyone else thinks. It’s changed the way I think, and the way I direct. Also, I have a true passion for entertaining people that began when I was a kid. My Dad would take me to movies and he seemed so relaxed watching them — all his worries disappeared for those 120 minutes.
2) What is your most recent project?
My most recent project is a series on digital spots for Purina One and the Purina One 28-Day Challenge.
It features Carrie Ann Inaba from Dancing With the Stars. The spots are about a new Purina One product that helps improve cats’ lives — how they feel and how they look — in just one month. It’s been a lot of fun.
3) What is the best part of being a director?
The best part about being a director is watching your vision come to life — literally seeing something that has been in your head materialize. I enjoy the process of working with a team, too. I like the idea that everyone from the bottom up is there to create something that is engaging and entertaining, and steering that ship is an adrenaline rush like no other. I also love the challenge of directing: Endless possibilities come with the job and the choices you can make.
4) What is the worst part of being a director?
The worst part about being a director is being told, “We don’t have it in the budget.”
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.?
My focus has always been on making great and engaging content no matter where it lives. I want as many people to see it as possible. Of course, I would like to expand to film, but I don’t want to focus on one medium — I want to tackle all of them!
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 most with you?
Again, Alex Bogusky is someone I have learned a great deal from. He has been able to make amazing content across the board, revolutionize spaces and inspire others. And now he is focused on making the world a better place. I also have a great mentor in Frank Sinton, who is a partner at the monster production house, A. Smith & Co. Frank taught me to be honest and kind. My father is my biggest mentor — he helped shape my career more than anybody, and continues to do so. And of course my wife, Amy, the person I admire the most and learn the most from every day, both professionally and personally.
7) Who is your favorite director and why?
I think Ridley Scott and the late Tony Scott are incredible. I love that they can produce/direct something as smart as The Good Wife for television and something as cool as the film Man on Fire. They make amazing commercials as well. And undoubtedly, Martin Scorsese is The Man. I met him at a private screening of Gangs of New York years ago, and I can honestly say that no one is more passionate about the art of filmmaking. He is just amazing.
8) What is your favorite movie? Your favorite commercial or branded content?
Tough questions! My favorite movie is probably Man on Fire — or Training Day. I am a sucker for a good action flick, and I love the way they were shot. The acting in both films was also incredible. My favorite commercial or branded spot is the one we just shot for Purina’s Beggin’ Party Poppers. It has dogs flying in the air in slow motion catching treats!
9) Tell use about your background (i.e. Where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
On arrival in LA from Chicago, I lived out of my car. My first job was driving a forklift for Universal. I took the opportunity to learn every aspect of production. By age 25, I had two Emmy nominations under my belt and at age 26, my own business.