The College Board is a nonprofit group responsible for administering the SAT and Advanced Placement tests throughout American high schools. Their new $25 million scholarship program was created to reward students not for academic grades or scores, but simply for completing steps in their own college planning. In order to announce the program to high schoolers on a national level, we created a campaign consisting entirely of real student POVs. Shot over five days throughout Southern California and in three active high schools, we worked with real students to capture their real experiences from their perspective. The scholarship program is intended to nudge more students, particularly low-income youth who might fear that college is financially out of reach, to apply for college. Half of the scholarships will be set aside for students whose families earn less than $60,000 annually.
This back-to-school campaign was inspired by a scientific study that showed you’re 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down. To explore that idea, we collaborated with a group of student poets from educational non-profit Get Lit – Words Ignite to share their dreams for the future as short poems and then contribute them to a massive wall of over 15,000 unique Post-It notes (each with a goal written on it). For the 60 second television spot, actress/musician Hailee Steinfeld recited an original poem while our production designer, Tyler Jensen brought her words to life through the notes on the wall.
In 2016 I was given the opportunity to conceptualize and direct the summer tourism campaign for I Love NY. It was a far reaching campaign with production reaching every corner of the state and requiring multiple units. I directed the main unit, while Cameron Dutra and RJ Collins shot in other parts of the state simultaneously. For the narration, I interviewed over 20 real children about their favorite family vacation experiences, while composer Aman Showbiz constructed an entirely original score to underpin the emotional arc of the piece.
In 2014 I was given the opportunity to fully conceptualize, write, and direct the launch campaign for America’s firstever Immigrant Heritage Month. The campaign was initiated by Welcome.US, a nonprofit dedicated to celebrating a United States that is fueled by an immigrant tradition. As a second generation American myself, the project was very personal to me and it was my first opportunity to fully conceptualize, creatively lead, and direct a commercial campaign. I wanted to celebrate the diversity of America, a country whose population is the direct result of mass immigration. We avoided shooting any faces in order to highlight the fact that anybody you meet could very well be an immigrant themselves. With a three person crew and a generous hookup from Panavision, we traveled coast to coast, capturing the backs of a lot of people’s heads.
I was excited when I received an email from Andrew S Allen about creating a video for his company FiftyThree. He had discovered me via his other incredible company, Short of the Week, and was looking for a way to introduce a new iPhone app called Paper to the world. Once I got over the initial intimidation of working with a founder of two incredibly rad companies, I put pen to cough paper and got to work. The idea of the app is it’s the best ways to “get your ideas down” so I chose a splitscreen approach to showcase the relationship between real world inspiration and writtendown ideas in the app. As a side note, the app really is amazing, I use it for all my trips to IKEA [LINK].
This spot with Wieden + Kennedy was my first project to utilize multiple shooting units. With less than tend days of lead time and a 3 day shoot window, I chose to split the shoot into five separate Director/DP units and oversee all of them simultaneously: LA (Cameron Dutra), California Coast (Michael Barth), Alaska (Brandon Kapelow), NY (Julian Marshall), and a dedicated aerial drone unit (Nick Roney). To retain unity across all the units I created visual guidelines and specifications to guide the teams, checking in with each unit director every night to ensure everybody was on track. The award for best new profile pictures go to Brandon Kapelow and Spencer Creigh of the Alaska unit.
In 2015 I was given the opportunity to direct a video for the Future of Storytelling conference in NY. Unlike most conferences, there are no lectures or speeches at FoST; instead, each guest speaker is paired with a filmmaker to create a unique short film designed to inform and spark conversation. I was fortunate enough to be paired with Tatjana Dzambazova, paired up with fellow documentarian Drew Heskett and we were fortunate enough to be paired with the
I got a call from an old friend about a product he was prototyping called GLOW headphones. The futuristic buds utilize a state of the art fiberglass material to transmit and diffuse laser light. Their company had completed a highly successful round of Kickstarter funding and was hoping to create a kick ass launch video. I don’t know if I’ve ever had quite as much fun on a commercial project as I did with this one. It was an exciting opportunity to conceptualize and direct a video campaign for an entirely new class of product, but also a great excuse to have fun creating something rad with my friends. We shot the whole thing on a shoestring budget with a skeleton crew over a week, splitting our time between LA and the Bay Area. Props to HAIM for letting us use their incredibly badass music.
The state of New York launched a new campaign in 2015 called The State of Opportunity to highlight New York State’s growing economy and invite new and growing businesses to be a part of it. I was commissioned to direct the TV campaign, which showcases various projects statewide, spanning New York City, Buffalo, Rochester, Albany, Utica, Syracuse, Long Island, Troy, and the Hudson Valley. Because the shoot window was only five days and the production required filming all over the state, I chose early on to divide the project into five units, having done so successfully on the Verizon project. I directed the main unit (in Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse), RJ Collins lead the Albany/Utica team, Brandon Kapelow took the reigns with Manhattan/Long Island/The Hudson Valley, and Kauai Moliterno directed the statewide drone photography. To ensure a unified piece I built a comprehensive visual bible with my cinematographer Hunter Baker, which contained, precise shots, framing measurements, focal lengths, framerates, and color references. With 5 Drones, 4 Alexas, 3 Segways & Movis, 2 Hover-boards, and 1 pre-dawn helicopter ride we were able to capture just some of the epic scope of the Empire State.