Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority's "Cindy" (spec spot)

Laura Somers

Unaffiliated

1) How did you get into directing? 
I had done some acting as a child and went to NYU’s TISCH Theater program with the intention of becoming a professional actor. I studied at Playwrights Horizons, which was a studio that encouraged its students to try their hand at every aspect in the field. We had to take a directing class, and I quickly discovered that all my classmates wanted to be in my scenes and my professors were genuinely excited about the work I was bringing into class. The first play I directed at NYU was a hilarious short play called Teeth by Tina Howe. I don’t remember how successful a production it was, but I had such a fantastic time collaborating with the actors and designers that I was immediately hooked on directing and any acting ambition I had quickly evaporated.

2) What is your most recent project? 
I co-wrote a microbudget feature that I plan to direct. It’s about a group of teens in a low income community who break into a wealthy neighbor’s home and spend the night having a taste of luxury. It’s based on a crazy true story that happened to some of my family members.

3) What is the best part of being a director? 
The best part of being a director is being able to see the world. Sometimes that means you’re flying to exotic distant places and sometimes that means you’re staring closely at an ant in your own backyard.

4) What is the worst part of being a director? 
The worst part about being a director is when a project I’m really passionate about and spend a lot of time and effort on doesn’t materialize. Dream death is a terrible feeling - it’s somewhere on the scale below human death but above pet death.

5) What is your current career focus: commercials & branded content, TV, movies? Do you plan to specialize in a particular genre—comedy, drama, visual effects, etc.? 
Currently, I’m focusing heavily on finding a home with a commercial production company, so I can start directing commercials and branded content. I’ve been specializing in female-centric comedy that relies more on dialogue and the actor’s performance to tell the story rather than special effects. In addition to commercials, I’ve also been working on prepping my feature film that I’ve co-written, a teen drama, (what?!? a drama?!? yup) which I am praying will come together so I can shoot it in Houston.

6) 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’ve been mentored by a couple of creative directors while making my reel and it’s been invaluable. They were very hands on in the process, so it was like getting real world experience: learning how to craft a spot and plan it, while they nailed home the importance of attention to detail. The best lesson I’ve learned is you have to know your brand inside and out. Know the delicate balance of reinventing the wheel while reinforcing the brand’s familiar message. Advertising is unforgiving to even the smallest mistakes.

7) Who is your favorite director and why? 
These days I’m really into Paul Thomas Anderson. He’s so darned ambitious, and he’s got the chops to back it up. He is a technical genius, I’m always astonished at his visual style for each film, there’s always a new camera move he’s created - there’s always a new opportunity to learn from him. I admire his ability to pull masterful performances from every actor he works with. PTA creates epic stories and unforgettable characters from what would seem like impossible subject matters and themes to write about. And I love that he’s always exploring how lonely it is to be alive - but somehow he makes the grotesque part of life and the people in it beautiful.

8) What is your favorite movie? Your favorite television/online program? Your favorite commercial or branded content? 
My favorite - a film/commercial hybrid - is “Soul” for the Lecia M-Monochrom camera. It’s “long” form, black and white, gut punching, and good lord, the cinematography on it is tremendous. It clocks in at about 1:30 and is, in my opinion, too short - I say that only because I’m greedy for more of that beautiful content. I love the intermingling of short films and advertising. More, please!

9) Tell us about your background (i.e. where did you grow up? Past jobs?) 
I grew up in Pasadena, TX which is within the Houston area. I basically owe my whole career to my sister. She was in a community theater production when we were kids and after seeing her onstage, it really sparked a passion for the performing arts in me. In addition to my theater studies at NYU, I also studied screenwriting at UCLA, and cinematography at LACC. I’ve been supporting myself professionally as an editor on mostly reality shows you probably haven’t heard of. Conspiracy theories and crazy moms have become my reality specialty.

Contact

Contact Laura Somers via email