Director Reel (2014)

Have finally cut an infamous director's reel. 

All of this work was done with either a very small team or entirely by myself with no representation and little to no money. Just my time and passion. So imagine what I could do with a little bit of money, let alone a decent amount of money.

Personally, I think the idea of cutting a director reel is a bit non-sensical. It does make sense that a DP or visual effects professional would show off their purely visual craft in the presentation of a montage, but what does showcasing a collection of random shots have to do with showing off your ability to tell a story, stage a scene, or get great performances out of actors? It can't. But what a director reel does do is show off your style in a quick delivery method. 

There are critics, there are shooters, there are directors, and there are filmmakers. 

A critic is someone who never makes anything of their own. They just sit around commenting on what others create. It's astonishing that there are people that have made this a profession. Joel Schumacher had a great quote saying, "I don't think anyone ever aspires to be a critic." So true since critics are essentially someone who either failed at or even worse never tried to be one of those other positions mentioned. 

A shooter is someone who does go out and shoot stuff, but it's a random collection of whatever, and doesn't have a script or story associated. This is what I'd say 90% of people on Vimeo are. Even certain people who's work get significantly more notice then my own. Being a shooter is an important initial step of the learning process in today's day and age of the technology being so readily available for anyone to use and thus so democratized. The problem though is far too many people get stuck in this stage and don't go any further. The classic typical case is the tech wonk - someone who only talks about the tech and latest hardware all day. Another example are "tone poem" pieces. Which are a series of shots cut together with a voice over. Some of them are gorgeously shot and I made a similar piece myself for the Project Greenlight submission. But why not go further and tell a story? I see a lot of shooters mislabeling themselves as directors or filmmakers. 

A director goes further than a shooter by "directing" people called actors after a casting process has been done. The best directors support a script to tell a story and the least directors shoot stuff that is unscripted. Like music videos, which are the easiest things in the world to make. Your zit-faced cousin who's a sophomore in high school can shoot a typical music video these days. However, all it entails is shooting a bunch of random coverage and then cutting it together. Making a memorable, stylized, music video which has a narrative that adds to and supports the song is another story though. Every once in a while I see a music video like that which really has the director's style and craftsmanship on it and those are your above average music videos which add to the art form. There are a zillion people who want to be directors because it's essentially the key creative role in the filmmaking process and us as artistic human beings are inherently creative and filmmaking is a culmination of many art forms. So the competition is fierce and the LA directing world is very cut throat. I do wish someone wouldn't call themselves a director until they've been paid to direct (which would cut out 98% of people online who you see randomly calling themselves one just cause that's what they'd ultimately like to do) but I also understand being too modest can hurt you. In my career I've had a lot of direct exposure to professional paid directors. Some world famous and some just starting out and I can honestly tell you the way they initially become a director was by luck and who they know first and their skill set last. Some of them we're so phenomenal at their craft I would just want to spend as much time listening to them as possible to sponge off them and learn from them as a step along my journey to improve my directing skill set. Other directors however, we're so mind numbingly bad it would just make my head spin. It was discouraging working technically under them knowing I was at very least equally as talented as they were. So in 2010, when I was working at a production company with a roster of directors but not being one of them, I decided to do something about that a just started directing my own projects. Public service announcements (commercial), music videos, documentaries, and narrative films. Most of them have been spec, meaning not done for a client but just made to build up a portfolio and show off my capabilities as well as develop my own style. Which every artist needs to take the years to do. The negative of spec is that you're not being paid to do it and have to donate your valuable time, but the advantage is full creativity. There are many paid directors out their who's body of work is quite gastly and just done for the money with very little creativity involved. They've mostly just served as a puppet supporting a clients wants and needs so in those cases I'd rather cater most of my time to making my own spec work with no compensation. Since 2010, I've come leaps and bounds and this 3 minutes illustrates that. I shot all of it as well so this also serves as a Director of Photography reel. Directing something while also shooting it isn't the best idea because it takes focus away from your primary goal, performance, to make sure the lighting and tech of the camera are all perfect. So you don't want to be the DP first and the director second when deviding your time between those two tasks. So going forward I'll only continue to shoot projects I direct if that's my only option. 

To go beyond just a director, a filmmaker is someone who directs actors to tell a scripted story and also writes the script. This is truly a rare occurrence. There are brilliant directors out there who I would not call a filmmaker. Michael Bay for example. Then there are others, like Christopher Nolan, Paul Thomas Anderson, Quentin Tarantino, and James Cameron who are filmmakers because they write their own material, and have thus been involved with the development of the story from its inception. Writing is a very difficult process. It takes time and patience and sitting down to write a good feature screenplay is likely going to be an over year long process. Most people in today's technology quick fix age aren't capable of powering through those initial days or weeks sitting in front of a keyboard not getting good results so they drop out there. 

This reel reflects me being a bit shooter but mostly director. A filmmaker as well because two of the projects included have been narrative scripted shorts which I wrote. I think it's safe to say I have the tech side of things down on both the CG and live-action front, and as I continue on it's all about writing stories and creating characters and then telling those stories in the most novel and compelling ways possible. And being paid to do so would be ideal, so I'm playing the game a bit by making a "hire me" director reel.