Ed Sheeran’s “Eyes Closed” (music video)
What was your first professionally directed work and when was it?
My first professionally directed work was in October of 2021 for a brand called Hydrow. It was a commercial for their new rowing machine shot in Kiev, Ukraine.
How did you get into directing?
I’ve been a visual artist all my life, growing up I was surrounded by cameras and quickly fell in love with documenting my life. Making videos with my friends in high school was always a past-time and I cataloged near every life event both big and small in supercut style montages. I’ve always loved pop culture, which drew me to music videos. As a kid I filmed videos of myself in my basement to Rihanna’s “Umbrella” and Kanye’s “Runaway,” and spent mornings before school watching the VH1/MTV video countdowns. I knew I wanted to create on a larger scale, so once I got to college I studied commercial photography, but never wanted to limit myself from stills to motion. My senior year of college I began interning with director Dave Meyers in his LA office, where I was exposed to the music video and commercial worlds. After about three years of interning, assisting, and joining him on projects, I met an agency who had some faith in me and allowed me to pitch on my first solo job.
What is your most recent project?
My most recent project was a music video shot yesterday (but unfortunately cannot spare the details just yet ha). Prior I co-directed a commercial for Pepsi featuring Bad Bunny for their summer campaign. I co-directed this with Dave Meyers.
What is the best part of being a director?
It’s been a euphoric feeling for me to step onto a set and see my vision actualized, its hard to describe or compare to anything else that moment when a seed you’ve planted in your brain for so long becomes real on such a massive scale. There’s also those serendipitous moments where everything works out exactly as it should, there was a moment on my first music video, Camila Cabello’s “Bam Bam” where we had one shot to get a take of her hanging out a car window, getting blasted by rain while driving DTLA. The moment we got it was magical and perfect and my DP and I were squealing. Times like that on set when you nail a shot, I truly can’t imagine doing anything else.
People connecting with your work is another highlight. Getting reached out to after putting something out and people letting you know that your video impacted them in some way, made them feel, heal etc, is always extremely rewarding.
What is the worst part of being a director?
Doing projects that my heart isn’t in. People always say only take projects I’m passionate about, but sometimes that’s not an option. Directing is so wholly encompassing for me that I’m not able to think about much else when I’m on a project, so if I’m not excited, passionate, or if I’m sacrificing creative, it becomes very soul draining to put so much into something you don’t love. I try to look at those projects as more practice, more training, more ways to learn, and that helps.
What is your current career focus: commercials and branded content, television, movies? Do you plan to specialize in a particular genre–comedy, drama, visual effects, etc.?
My current focus is building a body of work that reflects the artist I am. I think as a beginning director, you sometimes take on projects that don’t always feel like “you”, as you are getting your footing. These projects have taught me a lot, but as I sink into the job, I think in the past year I’ve started to really find what my specific strike zone is, and now I want to focus only on that strike zone. Of course, that’s not always possible, but I think I’ve gotten a lot closer to understanding what type of work I want to create. Whether its a commercial, a music video, what have you, the medium is less important to me than making sure I’m honoring myself and my strength.
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?
Dave Meyers (director) has been mentoring me since I was 20 years old and finishing up college. I was able to move to LA as an intern for him, and eventually became his full time creative assistant, to now where we occasionally are co directing partners. Dave has taught me the fundamentals of directing, as I came from no film background and had no formal film schooling. How to mold and shape an idea, how to strike culture in a way that will have lasting impact, how to structure your day so you get all your shots – I could go on.
Jim Bouvet, my EP at RadicalMedia has also been instrumental in teaching me the business side of things and building me up as a new director.
Who is your favorite director and why?
Some key inspiration comes from: Ari Aster, Hayao Miyazaki, Luca Guadagnino, Melina Matsoukas, Christopher Nolan, Hiro Murai.
What is your favorite movie? Your favorite television/online program? Your favorite commercial or branded content?
I have different favorite movies for different categories of life. As my style has evolved so has my favorites, but its impossible for me to pick one. Currently, my favorites are Bones and All and Suspiria (2018). My childhood favorites are films like Stand By Me, Lord of the Rings, and Howls Moving Castle. I’ve also recently gotten into Julia Ducournau’s work and really enjoyed Raw and Titane.
Things I’ve been liking on television lately are Donald Glover’s Swarm, that one really stood out to me. As did Euphoria, Beef and House of the Dragon.
Tell us about your background (i.e., where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
I grew up in Columbus, Ohio in a very creative community. I was surrounded by free-spirited artist types in my childhood and was largely molded by them and the informal, alternative schooling I went to. My father has always had a passion for photography that was imparted on me at a young age and I grew up with a Polaroid on my hip, documenting my life. My adolescent years were often filled with photographing and filming my friends in both documentary and editorial ways, teaching myself Photoshop and building a visual style. I’ve known this was what I wanted to do for as long as I can remember, and was lucky to be surrounded by so many artists growing up. I continued to mold my style in photography school in Ohio, and after college, I moved to LA to pursue directing full time.