1) What was your first professionally directed work and when was it?
I directed a few self-funded spec commercials for Skechers and Skittles in June of 2019. This wasn’t my directorial debut but it was the first time I was able to surround myself with a talented group of professional filmmakers. I’m so proud of the work we created and am grateful to my team for helping me bring out my best.
2) How did you get into directing?
I first started directing as a kid, shooting comedy sketches with my brothers on our parents’ VHS Camcorder. In high school, I made a surf video and discovered the amazing power of editing when a friend lent me his red iMac G3 and iMovie. I was hooked. I loved "making movies" and most of all, I loved showing them.
3) What is your most recent project?
My most recent project was a Beanfields spec commercial shot in May of 2020. A big part of directing is problem solving and I felt that quarantine offered me a unique challenge to overcome. We shot the entire commercial remotely, with everyone safely in their own homes. The project was rewarding and gave us a needed break from the monotony of quarantine.
4) What is the best part of being a director?
The best part of directing is setting the tone on set. I’ve worked on hundreds of commercials over my career as a crew member and I’ve found that everything trickles down. If the director shares enthusiasm, patience, and gratitude, it’s contagious on set and creates an environment everyone wants to be a part of.
5) What is the worst part of being a director?
The worst part of directing is having to be flexible with your vision. Things go wrong on set. Equipment breaks, crew members sleep in, locations get taken away, and you have to adjust on the fly. Your job is to solve the problem and give the client what they want. Some of the best stuff I’ve shot happened because of a problem we had to solve. It wasn’t what I envisioned, and sometimes, it ends up being better.
6) 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.?
We live in a noisy world with countless things vying for our attention. I love creating funny and engaging stories that rise above the noise and capture the viewer in 30 seconds or less.
7) 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?
My mentor is commercial and film director, Craig Gillespie. I’ve known Craig since 2008 and have learned countless lessons about filmmaking from him. One pivotal lesson he taught me is that talk is cheap. At some point, every director has to put their money where their mouth is and jump in. I took that to heart, saved up money and shot three major spec commercials in 2019.
8) Who is your favorite director and why?
My favorite director is Taika Waititi. His movies are absurd, hilarious, and packed with so much heart. I can’t get enough of his work. I also understand he’s great to work with.
9) What is your favorite movie? Your favorite television/online program? Your favorite commercial or branded content?
One of my favorite commercials is a VW ad where a little boy in a Darth Vader costume tries unsuccessfully to use the force on items around his house. His father decides to play along and remote starts his VW car, convincing his son that the force is real! It’s an adorable story with a funny twist that stuck with me for years.
10) Tell us about your background (i.e., where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
I grew up shooting videos and seriously considered going to film school, but instead decided to play it safe and study aerospace engineering at Cal Poly. I enjoyed engineering but my heart remained with filmmaking. It become clear to me that, for better or worse, I had to pursue my dream. After graduating, I moved to LA, worked for free, became a production assistant, then a video assist operator, and finally, a director. I wouldn’t change a thing.
11) 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?
The pandemic has been difficult. (Surprising!) I was unemployed for four months and the lack of a creative outlet was really hard on me. So I found ways to be creative at home. I shot a remote spec commercial, published a children’s book, and taught my kids how to surf. I’m grateful we’re returning to work but thankful for the opportunities time at home with the family has given me.