A piece I love:
One of the reasons I love movies in the first place is that they're like candy-coated medicine. A movie can be entertaining, but a good movie will wrap that entertainment around a a moral, a message, a lesson, a point of view, or something culturally important. I love this piece because it pulls back the curtain on who these filmmakers are and what personal stories and experiences they wanted to explore in a movie about a giant red panda. I think pieces like this are an important reminder of why we tell stories – a discussion worth having is made easier by an effective story.
This is the type of shoulder content that engages me most as both a consumer and a creative. I have been lucky to work on projects like this at Disney, and want to continue to be a part of illuminating the stories of creators and their unique voices and cultural challenges. Disney does this better than anyone.
A piece that has potential:
This piece was made for a government client and was designed as a financial literacy training tool for young military recruits. I chose this piece because I think it illustrates something I needed to learn before being successful on the marketing side here at Disney: being deeply considerate of the audience.
This content clearly could have used a bigger budget and has plenty of other issues, but from a self-assessment point of view, I think that as a director I wasn't assertive enough during the edit to pace this up, and wasn't focused enough during the scripting process to streamline the message.
Given the nature of the project, I had deep insight into exactly who this audience would be, and yet I seem to have been perhaps a little too excited about my long creative leash to fully appreciate that a 17-year-old Army recruit wasn't going to sit with me while I develop some convoluted sci-fi rules and take my sweet time getting to the actual learning content. This piece still got its intended result, and actually was one of our more successful programs at that company because it was at least a different approach to most boring training programs. But I think this could have been even more successful if I'd had a tighter grip on the wheel.
During the interview, I brought up a LinkedIn post I had seen from Dalia Ganz (a former marketing executive at Disney/Freeform) highlighting some advice she'd gotten from executives during her time at Disney. One was, "Don't try to put 20 pounds of sh*t in a five-pound bag." I think this piece perfectly embodies how a lack of simplicity can crowd a message, and it's a lesson I want to keep top of mind in all my future work.
A piece I'm proud of:
I directed this, my first feature, in 2018. It was released by Gravitas Ventures in 2021. Is it perfect? Not even close. But it's the biggest project I've ever set out to achieve, it required 100% of my focus and ability, and by Jove we did it. One of the ways a project like this challenges an independent director/producer is that there is seemingly a daily stream of reasons to give up – actors drop out, locations disappear – things are constantly falling apart and it's your job to figure out how to hold it together. To me, this movie proved what I already believed: there is no obstacle that doesn't have a solution. Letting go of my ego and taking every road block as an opportunity to problem-solve on the fly were the only ways to make it through a project that couldn't afford to throw money at problems to make them go away.
I had to be mentally nimble and quick-on-my-feet as a problem solver and troubleshooter to bring this project to life. I want to carry those traits into the work I do for Disney. I'm passionate about bringing talented people together and being collaborative and adaptable as we all work toward a common outcome.