It was a long and unusual journey that started with dropping out of film school and going traveling. Eventually the money ran out and I realized that I like to eat and sleep in clean beds, so I settled in London and managed to get a job as an editor. After that I worked as a promo producer throughout Northern Europe before moving to Dubai and working as a creative. That last job changed my life. I had the privilege of working with a number of very talented directors on projects throughout the Middle East. It was through their mentoring that I found the courage to pursue my own filmmaking voice and finally get into the director’s chair (an apple-box and wireless monitor in my case). A decade later I’m back in Toronto, where I started, except now I can call myself a director.
2) What is your most recent project?
I always try to keep between two and three projects going at once. That way when one stalls, I don’t go crazy. Currently I’m developing my first feature film and waiting for the trees to bloom (literally) so that I can shoot a little spec spot I’ve been meaning to do.
3) What is the best part of being a director?
When you’re rolling, and you’re looking at your monitor and you’re seeing something that really makes you feel. Not just a pretty image, but rather something that speaks a simple truth about life, or about the human condition. You want it to last forever, but of course it can’t because you’ve got twenty other shots to capture and the AD is looking at his watch. But for that brief moment, I’m ecstatic.
4) What is the worst part of being a director?
When nothing is happening. When you’re waiting to hear back about a job, or you’re in a creative slump. Basically, when you’re not creating. All my unhappiest days have been when I’m not creating something.
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.?
As long as I can tell compelling stories that impart real feelings, I’m happy. The medium doesn’t matter to me. I’m aware of the rules and limitations of each medium, so it just comes down to telling your story in a way that fits within that framework.
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?
I’ve had many, many mentors throughout my life and I’m thankful for each one. They always seem to appear at the exact moment I need them.
7) Who is your favorite director and why?
Too many to name, and the list just seems to keep growing every year.
8) What is your favorite movie? Your favorite commercial or branded content?
I actually do keep a list!
Movies: Amadeus, Black Swan, Children of Men, City of God, Drive, In the Mood for Love, Incendies, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Road to Perdition, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Take Shelter, The Fog of War, The Hurt Locker, The King’s Speech, Les Intouchables, The Prestige, The Social Network, Winters Bone, 28 Days Later.
Commercials/Branded Content: I love the work of Ringan Ledwidge. Tom Tagholm is awesome as well.
9) Tell us about your background (i.e. where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
I was born in Poland, pre-Solidarity. When I was still a baby my parents managed to get us out and we lived in what was West Germany for a while, on a refugee camp. After that we were given two options: Canada or South Africa. We chose Canada. I grew up in Toronto and worked all kinds of odd jobs before pursuing editing.