Dove’s “My Beauty, My Say”
1) What was your first professionally directed work and when was it?
My first professionally directed work was a music video for the record label Nettwerk Music Group a couple years ago. I didn’t take a salary on the job and actually ended up putting most of the budget for production, but it was first time I worked with a major label and had a full production crew supporting me.
2) How did you get into directing?
As a teenager, I always hung around musicians and skateboarders and grew up heavily watching MTV. One day one of my favorite bands, AFI, had a fan music video contest and my friends and I decided to shoot a music video to enter in hopes of winning. The band never did choose a winning video, but I was hooked after that. I shot a ton of music videos in the San Diego music scene, though never seriously considered a career in film. After going to college and reevaluating the path I was on, I decided to move out to LA and pursue a directing career.
3) What is your most recent project?
My most recent project is a short documentary about a former exotic dancer who lost her leg in a near fatal accident. I’m nearing the final stages of post and preparing a crowdfunding campaign to help us cover some of the finishing costs like color correction, sound mix, music licensing, etc. You can learn more about it at www.meetxoe.com. Narrative wise, I recently locked a narrative dystopian sci-fi short called Radius. It’s currently making the festival rounds. You can learn more about it at www.radius-film.com. I’m also developing a short documentary about the political and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela centered around a famous Venezuelan chef. Lastly, I’m working on a spec commercial dealing with immigration and a punchy dialogue driven short in the vein of Glengarry Glenross.
4) What is the best part of being a director?
There’s nothing more satisfying than having an idea, bringing it to life, seeing it come to final fruition onscreen and watching audiences react to it. It’s one of the most fulfilling experiences in the world. I also enjoy making work that challenges people to reevaluate their worldview and preconceived notions, as well as films that inspire individuals to better their lives and the lives of those around them.
5) What is the worst part of being a director?
Worrying about budgetary constraints and getting money people to sign off on a concept (or paying for everything myself and going into massive amounts of debt) is always a stressful but necessary part of the filmmaking process.
6) What is your current career focus: commercials and branded content, TV movies? Do you plan to specialize in a particular genre–comedy, drama, visual effects, etc.?
I’m very interested in exploring the commercial and branded content space and firmly establishing myself at highest level possible . That being said, I’m always working on personal narrative and doc projects because I truly believe they will enrich my advertising work and strengthen my overall abilities as a versatile filmmaker. Genre wise, I’m very interested in doing visual storytelling/documentary style work and also have a streak of FX driven dark humor in me.
7) 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 cut a piece for director Paul Santana of Untitled/Sparks in 2015 and he really went out of his way to advise me and encourage my directorial ambitions. His main lesson was to hold myself to the highest standards in every department. Executive Jef Frankel of Pony Show Entertainment has also always been very supportive. Composer/producer Cyrus Melchor of Mount Cyanide took a collaborative chance on me and musically scored a few of my recent pieces. Eric Saarinen, as well as CDs Kiki Chansamone and Luis Aira were all very supportive of me early on. In the documentary world, Brian Weidling of Tumbleweed Entertainment has really mentored me story-wise and is one of the producers on my short doc Xoe Xapoian: Just Dance.
8) Who is your favorite director and why?
I’d have to say David Fincher is someone I truly look up to and admire as a filmmaker. I actually got to meet him the year Benjamin Button came out, after sneaking backstage at the VES Awards, but that’s a story for another time. I admire the creative and technical innovation in his work, as well as his mastery of the craft of filmmaking. I’m also very much inspired by the work of Oliver Stone for its boldness and the political discussion/change it enacted. Both directors have created challenging bodies of work that don’t pander to audiences, while still managing to achieve at the highest level and bring back commercially successful returns. Also, I love all the classic greats: Kubrick, Hitchcock, Orson Welles, Scorsese, etc.
9) What is your favorite movie? Your favorite television/online program? Your favorite commercial or branded content?
My favorite movie must be Blade Runner for its combination of craft, world building and emotional storytelling. It’s a perfect storm of every element of filmmaking functioning at its highest level. Right now, Black Mirror is definitely my favorite show. I’m obviously a huge sci-fi buff and I love anthology series. I also think they’re a great way to give opportunities to fresh directing talent. Directing an episode of Black Mirror would be a dream come true for me. There are so many great ads, but my all-time favorite is Dante Ariola’s “Parallels” spot for Jim Beam starring Willem Dafoe. I get chills every time I watch it. Also, you can’t go wrong with anything by Spike Jonze or Michel Gondry.
10) Tell us about your background (i.e., where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
I was born in Montreal to Venezuelan and Chinese parents and moved to San Diego when I was a child. I attended Duke University and initially planned on going into medicine after graduating, but decided instead to move out to LA to pursue a film career. I started as an intern and worked my way up and around the commercial production ladder in a variety of positions. I’ve been an associate producer, post supervisor, treatment writer/designer, assistant editor, editor, etc. I truly believe this varied experience has been invaluable in helping me become a well-rounded filmmaker. My first job in high school was actually working in an electronics lubricant factory over the summer and I used the proceeds to buy myself my first video camera.
Contact Jose Ho-Guanipa via email