Spotify's "Holding Hands" (online spot)

Patrick Muhlberger

1) How did you get into directing?
When I was in high school, I managed to get my hands on a camera and some friends and I made a spoof of 8 Mile called 9 Kilometer. It’s probably the greatest/worst thing ever made, but I was hooked. Plus, my brother is an astrophysicist and I realized very early on that I wouldn’t be joining him in that career, so I leaned in to directing.

2) What is your most recent project?
I just wrapped shooting a new short film like...three hours ago. It’s called Pop Music and it’s a modern day samurai movie about an uncle’s quest to help his niece perform a dance for her middle school crush. Part bloody action movie, part music video, and part coming of age story, it’s a very high energy piece driven by the absurd comedy that is adolescent love. I can’t wait to finish it.

3) What is the best part of being a director?
Getting to collaborate with so many talented people in order to tell a story. My earliest exposer to directing was behind the scenes photos in books and magazines, and I was fascinated in seeing all of the people on set working together. I love watching every department bring something new and fun to the project to make the story come to life.

4) What is the worst part of being a director?
That nervous feeling right before a shoot when I question all of my choices and wonder if I’m going to ruin everything and have to move back in with my parents.

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.?
I want to tell big and exciting stories. I love movies and the sense of spectacle they encourage, but I also enjoy working within the constraints of commercials and branded content. I just like storytelling - making sure my work isn’t merely a montage of pretty images but that it really takes the audience and the characters on a journey.

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?
No mentor.

7) Who is your favorite director and why?
Edgar Wright. The amount of work he puts into every frame of his movies is stunning. The fact that I’m still picking up on little jokes and cues on the fourth or fifth viewing really shows how complete a world he builds. Plus, his sense of timing and visual choreography is really brilliant. I always feel like he is in control of his medium and all I have to do is sit back and enjoy the show.

8) What is your favorite movie? Your favorite commercial or branded content?
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Not only is this movie visually stunning and hilarious, it also really captures that bittersweet roller coaster of young love. In the commercial space I really loved Nicolai Fuglsig’s Nike “Possibilities” spot. The visuals were beautiful, but it’s sense of fun and playfulness is what really makes it stand out.

9) Tell us about your background (i.e. where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
I grew up in a suburb of Maryland, went to college in Ohio, then putted around Europe a while before landing in LA. It’s a pretty cliche story now that I actually type it out. I’ve worked as a freelance writer and director and have recently done a lot in the digital space, including a show called Wonder Quest which 8 year olds really freak out about.