1) How did you get into directing?
Years ago, while scouting locations in Nepal, I was abducted by mystical Sherpas. They made me swear an oath to travel the world and document people’s uplifting stories. Becoming a Director was the condition of my release. ...Okay, so maybe I made up that story. But, hey! I’m a storyteller! I have always been driven to make a difference in the world and I thrive on expressing my thoughts through visuals and motion pictures. I studied production at USC film school and immediately started working in the Hollywood industry. After crewing in just about every position, besides directing, I created a spec commercial for Unilever, which won an international competition. This changed my life and since then I’ve focused solely on directing. Winning the competition enabled me to travel around the world, filming personal stories in Africa, India, Brazil, Indonesia, China… for branded CSR campaigns and creatively driven commercials.
2) What is your most recent project?
Of course, directing Transformers 8 ½. Just joking…I will leave that one to Michael Bay, and perhaps the jokes to my screenwriting partner. I am co-writing a feature, which was inspired by one of the most physically exhausting experiences I had while directing a film in Alaska. Our mission was to film an MTV award-winning singer/songwriter under the Northern Lights. We shot a music video in minus 24 degrees inside a spectacular ice world. Additionally, I’m directing spots for The Nature Conservancy and AT&T.
3) What is the best part of being a director?
Directing has taken me around the world, through the Favelas in Brazil, to the Great Wall of China. I have been able to meet people I wouldn’t have met otherwise and learn about their lives despite the language barriers. I have been incredibly lucky to have traveled to 30 countries on 6 continents. I get to come up with new ideas and make those visions come to life. I’m fortunate to collaborate with talented crews while being enriched by the unique lives of people, their cultures and, most importantly, their stories. Through the medium of film, I get the special opportunity to dig deeply, and to personally connect with people across the globe. For that reason, I can imagine nothing more fulfilling than directing.
4) What is the worst part of being a director?
Directing a film is kind of like having a baby! You don’t sleep and no one loves it as much as you. It will sometimes wake you up in the middle of the night with ideas or make you stay up all night shooting or prepping. You stop paying attention to yourself and the production becomes the most important thing.
You put all your time and love into it and let it go out into the world to stand by itself. You have to truly believe in your projects and visions, as no matter what, you will always have critics.
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.?
I focus on telling compelling stories and making an impact through my work. I direct a lot of branded content and love the challenge of quickly grabbing hold of the target audience. It means that every shot is critical and requires creative visuals. While I mostly direct commercials and CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) short documentaries, I am also co-writing a feature film that I plan to direct.
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 most with you?
I have been fortunate to work around internationally recognized and distinguished directors: Holly Dale, Wes Craven, Elizabeth Allen and David Fincher. They have graciously taken me under their wings and taught me about the politics of the industry, communication with cast and crew, and how far passion can take you. Before these industry mentors, came my most influential and impactful high school English teacher, Ms. Schmitt. She pushed me to be creative and think outside of the box. She taught me the importance of presentation, opened my curiosity to unique people and characters and even taught me the NY walk.
7) Who is your favorite director and why? (Response may be up to 125 words)
Kathryn Bigelow is my favorite director. She is a strong role model for women, and an extremely talented visionary who has paved the way for female directors. She’s proven that gender doesn’t determine genre. Being a female director doesn’t mean you can’t direct action or male driven films. She is as passionate about filmmaking as I am.
8) What is your favorite movie? Your favorite commercial or branded content?
The film that inspired me to pursue filmmaking, and therefore, my favorite film, is Back to the Future.
My favorite commercial is a recent web project for Rainforest Alliance titled “Follow the Frog.” In my opinion, it can be difficult making a truly effective green company commercial that resonates with a widespread demographic. They did a great job getting the message across creatively without preaching. I loved how they spent so long showing all the crazy things you should not do before telling you one simple thing you can do to make a difference. It takes the audience on an adventure and uses the film medium effectively. Film link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iIkOi3srLo
9) Tell use about your background (i.e. Where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
I’m from Never-Neverland and refuse to completely grow up. While I spent my childhood in beautiful Marin County, California, my mind was spent in a plethora of fairytales, fantasylands, and endless curiosity. It’s been amazing bringing my imagination to life, and I feel my adventures have only begun.