"Cusp" (co-director; trailer for her feature documentary)

Parker Hill

Tomorrow

What was your first professionally directed work and when was it?
My first directing job was a commercial for ESPN’s SEC network called “We Love It Here” in November 2019. We went to a bunch of schools in the SEC and filmed traditions each of them has around football, tailgating, and school spirit. It was a blast getting to go to games and being immersed in the passion and distinct culture of each university.

How did you get into directing?
I’ve always known I wanted to be a filmmaker, and I went to NYU’s film school at Tisch. While there I spent more time writing and producing. It was once I graduated that I discovered photography and that really propelled me into directing. It was like it all clicked for me--the writing now paired with visuals and I understood and connected with storytelling on a new level.

What is your most recent project?
My most recent project is a commercial for Texas A&M about one of their amazing and storied traditions, the Midnight Yell. On the nights before big games, tens of thousands of people gather in their stadium, Kyle Field, and practice yelling for the next day’s game. It was incredible to film such enthusiastic and passionate fans, and we really got to feel a sense of community at A&M.

What is the best part of being a director?
I think the best part of being a director is this endless puzzle you get to play with where you’re working to translate an idea, a feeling, a story into a cinematic medium. You get to collaborate with such incredibly talented people in pursuit of this collective goal; we’re trying to solve the same puzzle.

What is the worst part of being a director?
The worst part of directing is that you actually spend so few days a year on set directing. You have to spend so much time on a pitch and then in prep, but so few days/hours actually in the hot seat, trying to solve problems, working with departments and creating magic together. I wish we had more time!

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.?
I’ve got a few irons in the fire at the moment. In addition to developing a narrative feature script, and releasing my first feature documentary, Cusp, which comes out towards the end of 2021, I’m eager to direct more commercials. At the moment, my focus with commercials is on what I like to call “boots on the ground” type jobs–––I want to go to different places, be immersed in a world, film with real people or real places, and really capture honest and authentic stories.

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?
In the commercial realm, I’ve been very fortunate to have a mentor, one of the founders and directors of my company Tomorrow, Andrew Wonder. Andrew was generous enough to take me under his wing a few years back and show me how the sausage gets made. Commercial directing involves so much more than just the few days on set, and he let me shadow him on a couple of jobs from boards to pitch, to working with the agency, through shooting and post. It was an invaluable experience and gave me a lot more confidence as I approached my first couple of commercial jobs.

Who is your favorite director and why?
Jason Reitman, Kathryn Bigelow, and the Coen brothers. They all bring you into distinct worlds, big and small, and invite you to get to know or understand such peculiar people in an honest and empathetic way.

What is your favorite movie? Your favorite television/online program? Your favorite commercial or branded content?
Favorite movie changes a lot for me, right now it’s probably Network. Favorite show is The West Wing. Favorite commercial is “Sisters in Sweat” ft. Serena Williams.

Tell us about your background (i.e., where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
I grew up in NYC, and have been fascinated with telling stories seemingly everywhere but the city. I grew up going to summer camp and playing a lot of sports and the older I get the more I’m realizing how those elements really shape the stories I want to tell. I long for this community feeling you get with sports (or camp), this sense that you’re a part of something greater than yourself. I bring that attitude to the sets I’m on, and in my approach to people I meet. I want to understand people’s communities, and to know what it’s like to be a part of what others are surrounded by.

How has the pandemic impacted your career, art, craft, shaped your attitudes and reflections on life which in turn may influence your work, approach, spirit, mindset?
During the pandemic I was fortunate enough to be in post on my feature doc. Cusp, so I was able to use the time to really dive into the edit. I think the experience really changed the way I think about collaborating with others--having to work with editors, composers, colorists all virtually you have to figure out how to communicate and be comfortable never meeting these people in person while creating together. It also became such a gift because you can work with people that aren’t just based in your city!

Contact

Tomorrow: Contact Managing Director, Cris Zander, via email
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