How did you get into directing?
It all started in Tokyo when I was cutting trailers for Japanese films. On weekends I would photograph the city’s idiosyncratic characters and gravity-defying architecture. The perfect soundtrack for this was the music of LTJ Bukem, legendary ‘Drum ‘N Bass’ artist. His label in London had signed a new artist and was searching for a director to make a music video for the single. I loved the track and after playing it a hundred times, saw a story. So I wrote a treatment, drew up boards, and handed it in, doubtful it would get anywhere. Two weeks later, while eating in a ramen noodle shop, I got a phone call saying they loved it, and I had won the gig. MTV aired it in the U.K. and Asia, and it earned a review as “the only Drum ‘N Bass video worth a damn.”
What is your most recent project?
Rapp hired me to make a spot as part of a pitch for a new account. Once I had the boards in my hands, I had five days to shoot, edit, and deliver, including motion graphics and compositing. They gave me the room to be creative as long as I could deliver something stunning and effective in time. It was a serious challenge, to say the least. But everyone was thrilled with the final piece.
What is the best part of being a director?
As a director, there is tremendous satisfaction in creating something that was not there before. Being a director is like being an architect. Both disciplines are about building a world and telling a story; one expresses itself through moving images playing against sound, while the other tells a story through the discovery of a new space.
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?
I learned a lot from a wonderful art director named Bill Strom, who got his start in “Live TV” in the early 1950’s, before videotape was invented. Back then, to “cut” to a commercial, you’d have to quickly pan the camera over to a different set where your sponsor waited, product in hand. Of course, chaos reigned and anything that could go wrong, would. I keep this in mind before I step onto a set.
Who is your favorite director and why?
Unlike the majority of Hollywood filmmakers, Michelangelo Antonioni showed with his 1966 film Blow Up that you don’t need a lot of dialogue to tell a compelling story. You can do it through images and their careful juxtaposition. And what gorgeous images! The film’s central message concerns the uncertainty of perception; how do we know what we see is real?
What is your favorite movie? Your favorite commercial?
It’s a three-way tie between Blade Runner, Chinatown and Blow Up. I can tell you why over a drink. One of my favorite commercials is Jeff Zwart’s :60 speed epic for the Ford GT entitled, “The One”. And who can resist the “Cat Herding” spot for EDS.
Tell use about your background (i.e. Where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
I was born in New York City but grew up in Santa Monica, CA. I’m a big believer in trying different things; the more diverse your experiences are, the deeper the well is from which you draw creativity. I’ve worked at a record label designing album covers, assisted in the editorial dept of the New Yorker, cut a lot of spots, and even stepped in front of the camera to see what it’s like.