How did you get into directing?
My path to directing was sort of an unconventional route. Although I went to NYU, I didn’t study film there. As a 17-year-old freshman, I got an internship at a postproduction facility in NYC. Within six months of being there I became a junior Flame artist and started doing VFX work on commercials. While attending college I progressed to become a senior Flame artist, and eventually started doing visual effects on-set supervision. This proved to be invaluable experience as I was consulting with directors and learning a lot from them. Understanding the post side of things, really opened my eyes to the creativity I could implore if I got more involved on the production side of projects. Additionally, my experience in postproduction is ultimately what opened up opportunities to direct. This made it a natural next step for me.
What is your most recent project?
I just finished shooting and doing the visual effects on a campaign for Centrum. It was interesting because the budget did not allow for motion control but I wanted to keep the camera moving to keep the spots dynamic and I needed multiple passes of elements. I devised a turntable technique to simulate motion control which allowed me to do in-camera transformations of what I was shooting. Again, it helps me tremendously on set that I know the visual effects side of things.
What is the best part of being a director?
Seeing the finished picture on air. It’s very rewarding to see something of your direction and creation on television screens in a crowded sports bar, coffee shop, or some other public place. It makes the over-caffeinated late nights worth it.
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?
Vico Sharabani and Henry Lu. Vico was a CD/Partner of Rhinofx during my time there. He guided me from a 20-year-old punk into a professional in the industry. Through his tutelage I became a great Flame artist, learned how to lead creative meetings with agencies, and how to supervise shoots. Henry Lu is an amazing director at Moxie Pictures. Henry has been extremely instrumental in mentoring me as I transition from Flame artist to director.
Who is your favorite director and why?
Cameron Crowe. I love his writing style, and I love how he translates that to the big screen. I also love Tim Burton. I like to think I’m a visual storytelling hybrid of these two directors. Now it’s just proving this to everyone else that is the challenge!
What is your favorite movie? Your favorite commercial?
My top movies are: Almost Famous, Stand By Me, Goodwill Hunting. Ironically, I prefer movies with less visuals, and characters with more depth. For commercials, I love the MasterCard spot from a few years ago. It has three kids dancing around with their new backpacks to “We want the funk.” It ends with,”Being with people who understand you: priceless,” as they all dance to the same groove. Really simple spot, yet so well done. Recent commercials, I’m loving the Tom Kuntz directed Old Spice spots. Those rock!
Tell use about your background (i.e. Where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
I grew up in the small town of East Rockaway, which is on the south shore of Long Island. At 17, I left for college at NYU. In the passed ten years I’ve worked at Charlex, Rhinofx, and I am currently at creative workshop Click 3X as a director and Flame artist. I also took some time off a couple of summers ago to direct a feature length play for the NY Fringe festival. I really wanted to give directing a go, and did not want my post knowledge to be my crutch. The play opened to rave reviews and received the Audience Choice Award for the festival.