“Unattended Baggage: A Love Story” (short)
1) What was your first professionally directed work and when was it?
I did a trio of spots with 72&Sunny for Tillamook where I got to take a chainsaw to a carton of ice cream in slow-motion. It basically combined my two greatest loves, chainsaws and ice cream. Despite it being my first real directing gig, I thought of retiring after that, because really, how could it get better.
2) How did you get into directing?
I always wanted to make film. I started out writing, and then seriously studied photography which I loved, which eventually led me to discover film, which I studied in college. I’ve always had a very strong creative vision, and loved leading a creative team to forge something unique. I used to watch films and think how I would do it different, putting a new spin on it, giving it style it was lacking. Then I would force my friends to produce dozens of wonderfully horrible short films to test these ideas.
Looking back I was always getting people together creatively, even when we had nothing, to put a film together and get it seen. In that aspect I feel like I was always directing.
3) What is your most recent project?
I just finished a branded doc about couture perfumer Douglas Little, who makes one-off scents in his haunted Upper West Side baroque apartment. Like the scents he makes, he’s a super complex dude, and has a helluva story. I’ll leave it at that; the film does a better job explaining his bizarre world of couture perfume.
4) What is the best part of being a director?
Being able to tell people “I’m a director.” Knowing that your job is to bring the creative passion of a team of people together to create something singular and unique. Also being paid to chainsaw ice-cream is pretty dope.
5) What is the worst part of being a director?
Telling people “I’m a director.” It always sounds so cheesy. Other than that, there is no worst part. I’ve had many jobs; this is hard to even call a job, it’s so rewarding. I remember one day I was shooting Victoria’s Secret models in the morning, and then cupcakes for Crumb Bake Shop spot in the afternoon. I mean, in certain religions that is the reward for martyrdom.
6) 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 definitely will always love working in advertising and creating commercials. I love the potential good advertising has, the pace of the shoots, the creative that can pour into them. I also have a strong need to tell longer stories; could be film, or TV, but it’s the desire to create bigger more vibrant worlds then you can in 30 seconds. Sometimes you want the fast deliciousness of an In-N-Out burger. Sometimes you want the marathon of pleasure from a 21 course Omakase. Either way my style is always a balance between comedy and drama, quirk and honest moments. It’s just how I see life I guess.
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 would love to have had a Finding Forester moment. I mean, how I’ve dreamt someone of tenure would have called me “the dog now”, but alas, I can’t say I have a single mentor. I think you really have something to learn from everyone. I base a lot of my character on how much I have traveled, and seeing so many places, and experiencing so many different cultures really gives you a unique perspective on how you see life, and in the end, how the work you create resonates. You never know where the knowledge you really need comes from; it could be the most seasoned professional, or the guy behind the deli counter in a two-horse town.
8) Who is your favorite director and why?
Trick questions. It’s like asking a writer what is your favorite word (“protean” is mine. Or “quince”. See it’s hard) Top 5? Soderbergh, cause fearless style. Scorsese cause pedigree. Jeunet/Besson/Gilliam/Gondry/The Daniels cause they get weird. Haneke cause no one makes absence so full. And Fellini, cause, I mean, it’s Fellini.
9) What is your favorite movie? Your favorite television/online program? Your favorite commercial or branded content?
Movies: Moonstruck or Francis Ha for writing. The Fall for visuals. La Dolce Vita for pure style. The Godfather for all those reasons. TV: Always Sunny, The Leftovers, Rick and Morty, Fox and Friends (one of those is a lie). Commercials: Pepsi ad. Hands down. I mean, it’s like the Godfather of commercials.
10) Tell us about your background (i.e. where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
Eeshh……well, I’m from NY. I’m Italian. No one in my family had anything to do with film; both my folks worked for the airlines, (Alitalia) and I traveled like a gypsy for most of my adolescent life. I studied photography and then eventually Film Theory. After college with a fresh degree in Film, I naturally got a job managing the Mondrian hotel in LA, and there I truly learned a major part of directing: communication. Nothing like a job you really despise to fuel your true passions, I was constantly writing and filming, entering timed contests, and winning most of them. I lied to get my first industry job, saying I knew how to edit on an Avid, hid in a closet at the post house till everyone left, and taught myself the basics overnight. Not the most elegant solution, but once I was in, I never looked back. From there I just kept creating, following my passion for travel, and also motorcycles, creating films that really were part of me, and what I loved. The film that was selected for this showcase is one such film, something I’m very proud of, and think is indicative of the type of work that I have been trying to bring to life from way back when.
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