With the near completion of our second narrative short film, SUP3RV15ED, I've rolling out the updated site of my various directing work - theauroralab.com
At this point it's not an official production company but more like a label I attach to all my passion projects. Much as Quintin Tarantino's production company, A Band Apart is derived from the iconic imagery of Reservoir Dogs, AURORA-LAB is derived from the first short film we started, but what will be the second to be released, AURORAS.
I don't really think it's valid for someone to title themselves a director unless they've gotten paid to do so and learned years ago that for the most part, no one is ever going to hire and pay you to direct anything unless you've already made something that proves you can direct well. I've always enjoyed developing projects on the side, but in the last few years have kicked that into high gear spending the vast majority of my free time creating various commercial/music video/short film projects independently with the intention of building up a body of work that tells stories while developing my style.
Moving away from exclusively visual effects work, in addition to the occasional freelance cinematography role (both live action smaller budget projects & CG previs projects), I'm long overdue for transiting into what I've always wanted to be, a filmmaker. So many people don't purse their true passions and end up working hollow jobs their whole lives. A crucial ingredient to life happiness is finding a way to do what you love for work because then it's not really work. I've had a very fortunate and amazing career in visual effects but very rarely during that time have I been achieving my full potential. In order to get to that next step, one has to be able to spend a great deal of personal time getting good at their passion and be willing and not scared to almost start from the bottom again.
One double edge sword people fall into when trying to become directors is doing productions that are too much for independent financing. This is a common problem in film schools where students go down a wrought of getting a full crew together and then end up spending way more their time steering the ship that is the production rather then focusing on the film making. This is one of the primary reasons its so helpful to have a good Producer to remove that part of the process from the director. I find the vast majority of film school or post film school independent projects suffer from a inspiring writer/director getting too bogged down in so many things other then telling a story and as a result the final product they're trying to create ends up being not strong and goes no where. Even in cases where a lot of money is spent.
If one is seasoned enough to have done a variety of different roles both on set and in post, you can build up a unique skill set where you can eventually create projects with a very small team of just a few other people OR pretty much be the entire pipeline from beginning to end yourself if needed. Film making is an extremely collaborative process and while I am always for keeping crews as small as possible on larger productions, I wouldn't necessarily want to only make lower budget projects this way my whole career. During a transition period where you're just starting out, getting your first bad films out of the way, figuring out what kind of storyteller you are, are not yet established or most importantly paid, then it's absolutely crucial to tell stories that allow you to keep it small. Because if you keep it small, it's the most likely way it's going to GET DONE as the majority of people who take on projects independently in film school or post film school don't give them the full love they need or even worst, never finish them.
Since it's basically the key creative position, so many people in all areas of the film industry want to be directors and visual effects artists are certainly no exception. The word is out in Hollywood that VFX Supervisors generally don't make good directors because the two most crucial ingredients to film making are the script and the actors. Two things VFX personnel are almost never directly involved with. The problem with VFX personnel in particular is even though you may have years of experience working on movies, you're generally sitting in front of a computer all day which has virtually nothing to do with physical shooting and most importantly, working with actors. So unless you've happen to spend quite a bit of time on set or on motion capture stages in your VFX career, you've been completely removed from where the movie is made. Getting on set is crucial if you want to eventually go down a film making path, because then when you shoot on your own time, (and there's no excuse to not do so now with how cheap and easily accessible the tools are), you know what to do and what not to do. I have a lot of respect to those with visual effects backgrounds who finish projects with high production value independently and infinite respect for those who finish projects which are GOOD pieces of film making. A great example of this is friend and fellow collaborator Grzegorz Jonkajtys who's short film's Ark and 3rd Letter have done this successfully and most importantly, allowed people to see him as a filmmaker first, and a visual effects artist second.