A New Day – GRiZ (feat. Matisyahu) (Official Music Video)
1) What was your first professionally directed work and when was it?
In the summer of 2018 I was commissioned by the music artist THEY. through Warner Bros Records. This was my first real, paid job as a director and to this day I’m still proud of the work we were able to accomplish.
2) How did you get into directing?
My passion for storytelling was always present. Growing up in a family of artists helped me to tap into that creative desire, which started with drawing, and later evolved into moving images. Directing was always at the core of my love for filmmaking as it allowed me the most opportunities to collaborate closely with a wide range of talented people while sharing a similar vision on a deep emotional level.
3) What is your most recent project?
Oddly enough – my most recent project was another commissioned video for the artist THEY., whom I worked with on my first professional job. We recently completed production on a music video for a powerful song they put together that addresses some of the important issues our society is dealing with today.
4) What is the best part of being a director?
I always though my favorite part of being a director was conducting the technical wizardry of production. However, I’ve learned over the years that the relationships cultivated with each individual crew member and the actors you entrust to represent and help tell your stories are far more meaningful and gratifying.
5) What is the worst part of being a director?
I wish the balance of being a director was more favorable to the actual act of directing on a movie set. It’s inevitable that directing is only 10% of a director’s job. Every aspect from pitching, to client calls, pre-production meetings, post production workflows, promotional efforts, etc.. are all important, but the experience of directing on set is simply head and shoulders more satisfying.
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.?
A lot of my most recent efforts have been focused on commercial work, and specifically trying to tackle a balance of important human-centric pieces and visceral automotive and sports related films. I absolutely love the commercial medium and want to continue to hone my craft within that format, but in my downtime, I spend a lot of energy working towards my first long form narrative feature film.
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?
I haven’t had the luxury of just one person to take me under their wing. However, I think I’ve greatly benefited from making a number of connections with other like-minded filmmakers around the community who I can share experiences. Together I find that learning and growing as a collective has helped me gain a broader and more well-rounded formative perspective.
8) Who is your favorite director and why?
When I said this seven years ago, no one knew how to interpret it, but these days I think more people will understand: Denis Villeneuve is hands down my number one inspiration for a director who’s humble, approaches the craft of filmmaking with the utmost respect for those he collaborates with, and ultimately tells his stories in a way that I can personally connect with on a deep level. His work has certainly been influential on my work as a director.
9) What is your favorite movie? Your favorite television/online program? Your favorite commercial or branded content?
My all-time favorite movie is Michael Mann’s 1995 crime opera, Heat. No single film has been as influential on my development and desire to be a filmmaker as that piece. On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, Seinfeld is my all-time favorite TV program. It hasn’t had any impact on me as a creative, but it’s just something I connect with as a human. My two favorite commercial projects are easily Dougal Wilson’s "Monty the Penguin" spot for John Lewis and AJ Rojas’ Super Bowl spot for Duracell featuring Derrick Coleman.
10) Tell us about your background (i.e., where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
Born in Mississippi, raised in Ohio, and now a true resident of California. I was fortunate enough to travel to a lot of foreign countries at a young age as a tag-along to my dad’s business trips. Some of the more formative foundational structures for me as an artist developed through my perspective of the world and how my parents taught me to treat all others with respect. Losing my mother to illness at a young age was also an important landmark in my emotional development and how I want to communicate through stories and filmmaking to the rest of the world.
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 certainly been hard on the directing career. Nothing makes self doubt swirl around in your head more than being stripped of your ability to perform your passion while simultaneously having your finances put into a bind. The silver lining has been more time with family and plenty of opportunity to reflect and focus on future growth. I spent a lot of the downtime I had to hone in on my future narrative feature aspirations while also realigning my desires to use filmmaking for important societal issues whenever possible.