How did you get into directing?
I worked on Wall Street for a number of years before I decided to go into the “picture” business. When I finally moved to Los Angeles, I was sure that I wanted to be a cinematographer. I worked in the camera department on Universal Studios’ Big Fat Liar and was fascinated by everything. The director was Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum) and he opened the door for me. Shawn showed me the art of directing from the beginning to the end. I was very fortunate to be given an opportunity that doesn’t seem to exist in Hollywood: a true mentor.
What is your most recent project?
I recently directed a variety of different projects: A puppet piece, a documentary, and a viral film. Starting with a puppet destroying the earth in “Challenge Your World,” I followed with a documentary for Levi’s featuring the artist Mike Perry, next up is a Dr. Strangelove-esque satirical piece for McAfee.
What is the best part of being a director?
Being a director is the best job on the planet. Nowhere else can you tell stories that resonate and explode into peoples living rooms with beauty, or humor or, dare I say it, poetry.
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?
My mentor Shawn Levy is wicked smart. Shawn always said that you need three things to succeed in this business: luck, perseverance, and talent. There isn’t one thing that is more important than the other, you need all three.
Who is your favorite director and why?
On one side of the pond there is Jean-Pierre Jeunet. His work is beautiful and funny and strange, but entirely accessible to an audience. He creates a world and then invites you to play in it. On the other side of the Atlantic is Tim Burton. His work is perhaps more personal, but fun and funny and a little slice of genius. These two gentlemen are superb craftsmen and great favorites of mine.
What is your favorite movie? Your favorite commercial?
“Stella Artois: Pilot,” is an amazing spot. Cinema at its best. Picking one favorite film is too difficult, but a few that are tickling my fancy as of late are: All About My Mother, Monty Python’s Life of Brian and Delicatessan.
Tell use about your background (i.e. Where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
I grew up in Philadelphia and never knew anyone who made films. Everyone was doctors and lawyers and businessmen. Filmmaking always seemed very distant and slightly magical, as if these people were conjurers of sorts. I apprenticed under the Welsh painter Janet Reed for a number of years and she had me thinking of opportunities in the art world, but until I moved to LA I never met anyone in the business.