Jazeel Gayle

Gender Gap

Jazeel Gayle


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

My first professionally directed work was a Nissan commercial entitled “Nissan GTR Dream.” It was shot in January of 2019.

2) How did you get into directing? 

Directing has always been a passion of mine. Ever since I was young I loved putting stories to visuals. I set out to make that a career by going to film school. After film school I’ve done what every film school graduate has done; hustled. During that time I honed my craft and most importantly I honed my vision.

3) What is your most recent project? 

My most recent project was a PSA called “Promissory Note.” It was a response to the murder of George Floyd. It featured the unimpeachable words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s "I Have a Dream’ speech." With the help of some talented folks, I animated the speech over stark footage of the American flag to really drive home the message that BLM is a patriotic endeavor.

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

For me, the best part is working with other filmmakers. Filmmaking is the only art form that contains all art forms. As a director, you get to be the captain of that ship. And so I get to be involved with the creation of so many pieces of art that coalesce into one body of work. And that process is really magical. Being part of a temporary family of artisans, collected to offer their best in service of the finished product.

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

The worst part is by far the moments spent between being on set. And I’m not talking about pre or postproduction. But the journey to get into any form of production is arduous. And I fully understand why it is that way. But that doesn’t make it more bearable. I’m referring to the hustle and the grind. The constant competition for work. The having to explain over and over again why you should be taken seriously. The false starts. The broken promises. You have to sacrifice a lot to commit your self to this career path. And it can be emotionally and physically draining. And there is no fairness in this industry especially if you’re not a straight white man.

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.? 

Currently, I am focused on directing commercials and I hope to move to television after that and then ultimately film. Life will determine whatever order those things happen. But that’s the order in my head currently. I’m also a screenwriter. So writing and selling scripts is also a priority of mine. I often find myself being drawn to high concept dramas. Dramas with a twist either on filmmaking style or some type of bending of the genre really excite me.

8) Who is your favorite director and why? 

I get a lot of crap for this answer. But the answer is always Steven Spielberg. The man’s style couldn’t be farther from mine. I rank him the highest because he represents a complete and all-consuming mastery of the craft. Steven Spielberg, in 2005, shot War of the Worlds and Munich. It takes a once in a generation master to shoot those two movies in a 12-month period. I hope to one day have that firm a grasp on my craft.

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

Too many movies to name. So here are a few. Weekend, Happy Together, Bicycle Thieves, Caché, Dial M for Murder, Rope. My favorite television show is Dark. My favorite commercial is a Guinness spot directed by Tony Kaye.

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

I’m a writer and director based in the Los Angeles. I’m here by way of New York City. Bushwick to be precise. Don’t want anyone thinking I’m from Manhattan. I was originally born in Kingston, Jamaica. I specialize in a type of visual storytelling that is sadly missing from mainstream venues. Stories that provoke, unnerve, rattle, inspire and displace you are my passion. I couple that storytelling with fashion like visuals that blur the line between graphic design and cinematography. My passion also extends to the written word. Besides my unique vision that was born out of my lived life, my skill as a producer has crafted me into a better filmmaker. My specialization in soup to nuts production has given me a knack for fitting a creative within any production limit.

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?

Why not? That seems to be the mantra that has been on my mind during this pandemic. COVID-19 has put so many things in perspective for me. It has taught me that I only have this life. And this life is very finite. And things can change like that. So I need to stop waiting. I need to do it, now. Why not? That sentiment has moved me to take on projects I normally would be afraid of. And it has been truly fulfilling.


Contact Jazeel Gayle via email