A BLOSSOM IN THE NIGHT

Tayo Amos

CAA

1) What was your first professionally directed work and when was it? 

My first directing opportunity professionally was for an app called Inklo in 2017. My friends from college had an app that needed a video promo and it was my first time putting something together for a product and getting paid for it. It was a fun storytelling app so it was great to think of the script (which involved a lot of stunts) and bring the team together. Unfortunately, the app no longer exists but it was a lot of fun to make (and actually get paid for it!).

2) How did you get into directing? 

I started making music videos with my family friends in middle school and high school. I just thought it was something fun to do--I liked thinking up the stories with the songs and getting people I love together to create these stories and images in my mind. I then did a music video in college which won the best student short at a campus-wide festival. That award encouraged me to keep creating. As I kept creating more music videos and short documentaries, I felt more and more that this was the industry I wanted to be a part of. My senior year of college I had the opportunity to be a presenter at the Academy Awards through their Team Oscar program. Being at the ceremony and being amongst other storytellers and filmmakers I admired sealed the deal for me.

3) What is your most recent project? 

I just finished another short film called Magnolia Bloom and it’s a period short film inspired by Josephine Baker and her brave act of activism when she refuses to perform for a segregated audience in the 1950s. It was my first time doing a period piece and it was definitely a fun and exciting challenge. I had a great team who worked on renovating a college campus as a 1950s club and worked with very talented actors (including Lex Scott Davis as our lead). I am grateful that we got to shoot the film before the lockdown and were able to complete the film remotely.

4) What is the best part of being a director? 

The best part is utilizing every part of your brain and being into your work. There are so many elements to crafting a good story: performances, music, the script/ dialogue, wardrobe, set design...the list goes on. You can never get bored. I’m also very much an extrovert and love being around people so being on set and collaborating with my actors and department heads give me so much joy. There’s of course parts of being a director where you’re by yourself or only a handful of people but that experience of creating something with a vision you set in your mind is so wonderful.

5) What is the worst part of being a director? 

There are always challenging moments during the whole process but the feeling when you’re either in production or post-production and the image and set-up is not living up to the image that you conjured in your head. It’s important to experiment and try things so that the quality of the image and the story resonates with you so that it connect with audiences. It helps to keep making short films or other projects that don’t turn out super well so that you can continue to refine your craft.

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.? 

I’m currently focusing on developing my first feature film. As the development process continues, I’m also interested in working more in commercials and branded content especially as I have some advertising experience. As for television, I would love to guest direct episodes of TV in the future should the tone of the show align with my directorial style. Genre-wise, I love drama and action. I have also done some comedies but drama is where my heart lies.

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? 

One of my mentors I met while at USC is also a director. His name is Peter Sollett and he has worked across features and TV. His experience of navigating independent film as well as the studio system as a director is so valuable to me. He’s also helped me improve and grow as a director through giving feedback and tips of how to communicate with actors, set up the camera, and more. What’s been the most helpful is just to share my journey so far and get his thoughts. Knowing someone who has been in the industry and has found success is very instrumental for my personal journey to believe that I have what it takes also.

8) Who is your favorite director and why? 

My favorite director is Alfonso Cuarón because I admire the way he moves between genres while also showcasing his signature directorial style. He gives homage to his heritage and background while also navigating the Hollywood industry. I know that, every time I watch one of this films, I will be transformed in some way. Also the way he approaches the craft of directing as an artist is very inspiring. He is multi-talented in writing, editing, and cinematography as well that all inform his process as a director.

9) What is your favorite movie? Your favorite television/online program? Your favorite commercial or branded content? 

My favorite movie is Mustang by Deniz Erguven. When I saw it, I was so overcome with emotion as the young women in the story reminded me of the bond with my own sisters. For TV, I really enjoy shows that give insight into different communities different from mine with a combination of comedy and drama such as Vida and Ramy. As for favorite commercial, I love the P&G "Thank You Mom" campaign for the Olympics. Seeing young people thank their moms who sacrificed so much for their Olympics journey is so emotional and the filmmakers did a fantastic job of capturing that.

10) Tell us about your background (i.e., where did you grow up? Past jobs?) 

I’m originally from the Bay Area (Palo Alto/ Mountain View) in California. I moved down to LA four years ago to pursue my MFA in production/ directing at USC. I’ve worked as a production coordinator for a production house, a producer for an ads agency, and an assistant to an executive at a production company as I continue to do freelance work as a director/ producer.

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 a silver-lining in a number of ways. Though it’s been challenging to stay motivated with the public health crisis as well as other crises happening concurrently. But I’ve leaned into doing more self-care routines such as meditating and writing. I think this time has allowed me to stay more present and thoughtful in my day to day. I also have had time to write more and engage in film works that I haven’t had time to watch while also checking in on fellow collaborators and peers in the industry.

Contact

Contact, Film Agent, Darian Lanzetta, via email  
Personal website