Put On Some Pants
What was your first professionally directed work and when was it?
The first piece that I directed was right before the pandemic. It was a spot for Cuties Diapers. I didn’t think my first spot was going to be working with babies, but it was really special for me and I am sure it was for them….
How did you get into directing?
I studied acting and improv in Chicago. I had an incredible teacher who I noticed was a talented director himself. I learned from him by watching him. He used to say “The ego has to go, otherwise it will hinder the collaboration process. Remember, best ideas wins.” I have taken that saying with me on every job that I do, no matter how big or small.
What is your most recent project?
I was fortunate to be selected to create some really cool content for a brand called CLMBR. They are a fitness company out of Denver where they have revolutionized the versaclimber.
What is the best part of being a director?
To be at the helm of an immense collaborative incubator is a gift. Yes, I love being on set, who doesn’t. But taking a step back, looking at the bigger picture, to bring creatives across different platforms together, to bring an idea to life is really incredible. And then to be able to put our work out there in the world and see all the shitty comments on Youtube… This is what I love about this process.
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.?
As influenced by my cranky, never-satisfied grandparents, I have that “shticky” dry humor. I have been in the commercial world in some capacity since I was 18. I love learning and growing from being in the commercIal world, the fast-paced nature is something I love. Really… maybe it’s my attention span. Dunno. I just get them. They speak to me in various languages. As a fluent spanish speaker I am eager to spread my wings in both worlds.
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?
I do have a mentor. He taught me production. He, like me, started in this business at the bottom and worked his way up to the 1st AD. I was a kid when I met him, just dropped out of school and was feeling really lost. He showed me the ropes of everything! Grip, art dept, camera, camera cheats, why I should have a dolly on a shoot to help reposition the camera faster, small intricate knowledge, the details that seem small but make all the difference but so crucial. He showed me how to build my personal toolbox. He really was the one who pushed me to direct, “Don’t get stuck in the pointlessness, build solid relationships and build a good reflective reel. Be open and meet with people, go shake hands, be engaging.” A lot of what I know about this industry I owe to this man. I am forever grateful for what he showed me then and is still showing me to this day.
Tell us about your background (i.e., where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
I grew up in a small suburb of Chicago, spending days with my godmother Loli. Loli is Venezuelan and is the reason I am fluent in Spanish. She always made me feel like part of her family. Thus I am a Midwestern Jewish boy with a Venezuelan “chamo” heart. I got a workers permit from my high school and started my working life as a cook, slinging hot dogs and hamburgers at Michael’s Chicago Style Red Hots. I was 14 and loved that job, it was the first time I was able to use my Spanish in a work setting. Working in a kitchen taught me how to multitask and realize what it truly means to be part of a team. I grew up watching my cousin at Second City in high school, hanging around his actor friends, they were so awesome. It is what made me want to join and pursue improv. Touring, and seeing new audiences was an incredible training ground and learning experience at such a young age. I studied theater my first semester of college, and shortly after transferred to film school. After a couple of weeks into film school I thought to myself “I don’t really understand why I am learning film history from a professor in Tucson, Arizona when I just want to get my hands dirty and fail”. So that’s what I did, I moved to LA. Accepting any job I could for some years, working my way up to AD. Then in 2017 I was asked to AD a job in NYC and my life changed. I fell in love with New York and moved permanently 3 months after I completed that gig. My AD career really picked up in New York. I found myself working on huge commercials, learning so much from the various directors. All the while, I was writing, producing, directing, cutting my own spots and starting to establish my voice, with that follows the incessant email blasting (apologies to those who I blew up their inbox)… and yeah, here we are now.