Dark Knight

Joe Burrascano

How did you get into directing?
Directing animated films and telling great stories is something I’ve always wanted to do.  From a very young age, I was inspired by the first films my parents took me to see in the theater, Fantasia and Star Wars. From then on, I knew I wanted to be involved in making movie magic.  Starting Nathan Love was a dream come true, and it enabled me to develop a studio focused on creating the things I loved most—imaginative worlds and inspiring characters.  The company has been fortunate enough to attract some amazingly talented people to help bring these tales to life.  Working with them is part of the magic that makes it possible.

What is your most recent project?
I’m always working on my own stories and ideas that I hope to one day produce as a film or television series, but commercially I just started a really fun Baskin Robbins campaign. Already in progress is a new Chips Ahoy! Spot for China, and a series of ads for Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

What is the best part of being a director?
Creating a memorable experience for the audience and seeing a great, emotional reaction.  Besides the payoff, I really love the process itself—working with a lot of fun, creative people, bringing these great stories to life.

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?

I have learned a tremendous amount from a number of brilliant artists, directors and animators i’ve worked with over the years, but there is one person I truly consider a mentor, and that man is Jeffrey Lerer.  He was my thesis advisor for two years at the School of Visual Arts, and working with him had a huge impact on the way I viewed storytelling, connecting with an audience, and understanding the art of filmaking. Since graduating, we have remained good friends, and continue to critique each others work, share ideas, philosophy and of course, argue about them all. The biggest thing I’ve learned from him is how to really hone in on the story you’re trying to tell, strip out all unnecessary fat, and understand the art of all the tools you have to commincate your ideas, such as camera, composition, lighting, color and sound.  The more you understand and master these tools, the more you can connect with your audience on an emotional level.

Who is your favorite director and why?
Ha, I always have a problem picking favorites, but I’ll list a few directors whose work I admire—Stanley Kubrick, Brad Bird, David Lynch, Spielberg, early Burton (the era of Pee Wee, Beetlejuice of course)

What is your favorite movie? Your favorite commercial?
Movies: Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, The Labyrinth, Never Ending Story, Full Metal Jacket, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Apocalypse Now (Redux), Dumbo, Pinocchio, Fantasia, District 9, The Warriors, Zoolander, Spaceballs
Commercials: All the Old Spice commercials by Tim & Eric, Happiness Factory, Head-on (apply directly where it hurts), Guinness’ “Evolution”

Tell use about your background (i.e. Where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
I grew up in “The Hamptons” on Long Island.  It was a lot of fun growing up out there, and I had a lot of interesting jobs—working in an ice cream warehouse at 20 below zero, running the full restaurant gamut from dishwasher to waiter, tending to over 50 acres of wine vineyard, handcrafting wood signs, and being a cabana boy.  After I moved to Manhattan for college, I took an internship at an ad agency, and that opened a door to the industry at a great point in my development.  I made a lot of connections and gained a tremendous amount of insight that has stayed with me ever since.  All these experiences have helped me as a director, both in work ethic and being able to call on them to see a bigger world point of view.