Vlasic “Bad Pickle/Good Pickle” :30
1) How did you get into directing?
Mike: You can trace it all the way back to when we were little kids. Home movies were a huge part of our growing up. Our Dad always had an 8mm camera in his hand. Eventually, we grabbed the camera and started shooting short films, casting ourselves and friends from the neighborhood. So being around a camera and telling stories was very natural for us. I was way into computers. I would actually program games for me and my friends. I really loved the blend of technology and creativity. So, when I got to film school, I was naturally drawn to editing and VFX, which led to a 20 year career telling stories as an editor.
Gary: I was drawn to performance and became a working actor for 15 years. After a few years directing theatre, I got into commercial casting, and worked alongside directors, agencies and production companies. Through it all, it felt like my true aim was directing. Years later, Mike & I always found ourselves talking about the latest, greatest TV spots. We both felt that the 30 second nugget of a perfectly crafted TV commercial is such an immediately satisfying thing, like a great hamburger, or that perfect guitar riff.
Mike: So, one day we looked at each other and said, “We need to be making those.”
2) What is your most recent project?
While focused on getting signed, we are developing a few direct-to-client ad campaigns. Plus, a digital short documentary about an underground simian crime ring.
3) What is the best part of being a director?
Mike: Choreographing all the talent in front of and behind the camera, and watching it all come together in the perfect take, the perfect piece of the story. Getting the laugh, or the weight of the moment, or the incredible camera move, or whatever we are going for. That feeling of “Yesss! That’s it!” Plus, figuring out how to execute a particularly tricky visual stunt or gag that requires some outside the box thinking to accomplish it.
Gary: Having access to such a diverse set of tools and talents to bring a creative vision to life is a cool position to be in. It’s really about that one moment when you’re sitting in the edit session and you realize ‘we’ve done it’. That’s the pay off for me. Playing with big expensive toys doesn’t hurt much either.
4) What is the worst part of being a director?
Anything that stops the creative momentum.
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.?
Commercials, branded content and television. Our brand is definitely offbeat comedy.
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?
Being from the “TV Generation,” you could say that all the TV and film that we have absorbed along the way has been a mentor. It’s definitely had a huge influence on us. The big takeaway for us is to always be inventive and push the limits of creativity. On the personal side, our Dad has always been a great example of honesty and integrity, which serves us well when dealing with partners and clients.
7) Who is your favorite director and why?
We love Tom Kuntz for his “out there” ness. He intelligently hits the absurdist bullseye. Michel Gondry for his visual inventiveness and the “I wish I thought of that” factor. And Gaspar Noé. When you dive into Noé’s world, you are definitely not in Kansas anymore. He creates such a fully immersive experience that the theatre utterly disappears from around you.
8) What is your favorite movie? Your favorite commercial or branded content?
Film: The Machinist, Enter the Void, Birdman
Commercial: Skittles’ “Piñata,” Shave Club’s “Free Gift,” VW’s “Darth Vader,” VisitLasVegas.com’s “Hit The Lights,” anything ESPN does
Branded Content: Epuron’s “Mr. W”
9) Tell us about your background (i.e. where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
We’re Jersey kids. Hanging out in tube socks and hovering over our bowls of Count Chocula, we consumed massive amounts of Loony-Toons, ‘80s sitcoms, and even witnessed the birth of MTV. There was always a fight over the remote. That is, until Atari arrived. From drawing superheroes to building model aircraft carriers, someone was always making something. We always seemed to be in creation mode.