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Walter Thompson-Hernández | SHOOT New Directors Showcase Event
Walter Thompson-Hernández

LA28’s “Surf x LA Olympics 2028” (commercial)

Walter Thompson-Hernández



What was your first professionally directed work and when was it?
My first professional directed work was a commercial I directed for the LA 2028 Olympics Committee. It aired during the Summer Olympic games and was about a group of black surfers in Los Angeles. 

How did you get into directing? 
I’ve been directing things. I just never directed films until recently. I was a multimedia journalist at the New York Times for several years where, in addition to writing, I also directed and produced documentaries. 

What is your most recent project? 
I am in the process of completing my first narrative feature. It is titled, The Sky Is Blue, and is set in the Santo Amaro neighborhood in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. We have one more shoot in mid-November. 

What is the best part of being a director? 
I think it’s really cool to dream and imagine worlds and to see them come to life. It’s also great to work with extremely talented people who see and appreciate the vison I have. Collaborating with teams and executing together to bring something to life on screen is a very rewarding process.

What is the worst part of being a director? 
The hardest part is having to deal with shooting permits. It’s limiting and I’m always trying to find ways around them. That said, I think that helps me and the teams I work with get even more creative and resourceful.

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.? 
Television, film, commercials and branded content is my current and long-term career focus. Meaningful and/or entertaining stories is what motivates me. I’d say my style or genre currently lives in a docu-narrative world. 

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? 
My cousin, Michael “Cambio” Fernandez, an incredible cinematographer, has a been incredibly supportive of my career as a filmmaker. He’s a bit older than I am, and has been in this world for a bit longer. He offers a lot of helpful advice regarding the industry and is always eager to work on things with me. I appreciate him more than he will ever know. 

Who is your favorite director and why? 
This is a tough question. But I would have to say Terrance Malick. I think his films aren’t just films. They are philosophical inquiries into larger universal human truths. I hope to do similar things in my own way. 

What is your favorite movie? Your favorite television/online program? Your favorite commercial or branded content? 
Battle of Algiers always feels special to me. I’ve never been more engaged and interested in the story and characters than I have been with that film. I can watch that every day for the rest of my life and find something new that draws me in. I’m watching the newest season of Atlanta right now. I’m finding lots of great things in there. 

Tell us about your background (i.e., where did you grow up? Past jobs?) 
I grew up in Huntington Park, located in Southeast L.A. I also grew up in Venice.  I feel incredibly drawn to both. I’ve done lots of things so far.  I was a professional basketball player. I was a counselor at a mental health lock down facility before graduate school. I was in a PhD program at UCLA. I was a New York Times journalist. I like to switch it up often and incorporate things I’ve learned from my past. 

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?
I really turned inward during the pandemic. I became more in tune with who I am energetically. I’ve always been an introvert but had to perform extrovertedness often. I’ve let go of the need to perform and have leaned more into who I am. 


Rich Pring, rich@reveriecontent.com; Cathleen O’Conor Stern, cathleen@reveriecontent.comwww.reveriecontent.com