Different this Year
1) What was your first professionally directed work and when was it?
My first professional directing gig was a Discover card commercial for Facebook that came out last December.
2) How did you get into directing?
I got into it at a really young age. My Dad won a video camera in a raffle and I basically took it over. By the age of 12 I was directing my sisters and our family pets in all kinds of crazy movies.
3) What is your most recent project?
I’m in postproduction on a short film. It’s the biggest undertaking of my career – 18 dancers, huge sets, intricate stop-motion, lots of VFX post-production. I can’t wait to get it finished and out into the world!
4) What is the best part of being a director?
I find it hard to choose the best thing. I really like when I have a little nugget of an idea that manifests itself into a full-blown project and finally comes together as a finished film. It is very cool to bring an idea into reality like that. I also love when I take that idea to people that I’m collaborating with and they bring their ideas and talents to it and it gets even better.
5) What is the worst part of being a director?
I haven’t run into it yet. Hopefully, I never do!
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 love the idea of doing commercials because they are usually this flurry of creativity that is over in a few days and then hopefully you get to move on to the next one. When I’m making my own projects I’m writing, I have to fundraise, I usually do a lot of the post-production; it’s a major investment of time and energy. Commercials allow me to focus more on the directing itself, which is the part I really like. I would also love working in long form but an opportunity hasn’t presented itself yet. In terms of genre, comedy is usually what I work in but what I love about completing a project is that the slate is clean and the next project can be anything.
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 don’t think I’ve ever really had a mentor. There are certainly people who have influenced me along the way but I never had that traditional mentor relationship with anyone. I guess since I was the oldest of my siblings I was always used to figuring things out on my own and making my own way.
8) Who is your favorite director and why?
I could never pick just one! Jan Svankmeier is a major influence for the way he is able to create odd and surreal situations in otherwise ordinary settings. Jean-Pierre Jeunet for the worlds he creates. The colors and textures that he uses in his films make me want to live in them.
9) What is your favorite movie? Your favorite television/online program? Your favorite commercial or branded content?
Movie – Amelie and anything by John Hughes. TV – Stranger Things. Commercial – Drink Chobani. I’m obsessed with anything Rube Goldberg and that was pretty much the ultimate Rube Goldberg machine!
10) Tell us about your background (i.e., where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
I grew up in a small town in Iowa. It seems like we were outside all the time, playing with this or that and gathering things that I would use as props in the videos I was making. I also watched a lot of movies. Once I realized you could actually make a living in filmmaking I went to school and got degrees in film and then animation. After school, I jumped back and forth between the coasts working for places like Sesame Street, Warner Bros, NBC, Nickelodeon, etc. I did visual effects and post work, picking up all kinds of skills while always cultivating my own ideas.
Lisa Masseur, Tessa Films
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