What projects are you currently working on?
Right now most of my work is in television, film or photography and I’ve been actively working hard to stay in that world. Two projects I’m proud of is the commercial and short film I did this year for Appleton Estate Run down in Jamaica, and the short running film, For the Love. For the love will be in the Mill Valley film festival as a finalist in Sharp’s Art of the Amazing.
What are some of your favorite projects from the past?
For right now I’m focused on making films. One of my favorites was an interview with Sarah Churman; she was a woman who couldn’t hear her entire life and, at 29, she got an implant and started to hear for the first time. I saw the short clip on YouTube, called her and said, “”Hey, I’m from Texas, you’re from Texas, can I come visit and do a short film on you?” She said, “Yeah!” I love that film because it’s pure, I did it for myself and I like everything about it.
Other than that, I’ve been having a lot of fun working with Mission Bikes. With Levolights, we told this story of this woman going to a party. It was fun night and the cool thing about film is it takes you on adventures and that’s what I like.
What are your initial thoughts on the importance of creative spaces?
They are huge. To say it simply, having the right space nurtures creativity. I’ve been in larger spaces and have floundered I found coming to a smaller space works really well for me. There’s a great White Stripes song, and I don’t remember all the lyrics, but it goes “When you’re in a little room, you are working on something good, you might be in a bigger room. But when you’re in a bigger room, you might not know what to do and you might wish you were back in your little room.“ I’ve always kept those lyrics close to my heart because every time I expanded out or partnered with an agency, I lost that magic of just being small. When we built this space, it was made to be small and I built my entire company around this; the idea is that everyone is working in their own little rooms.
You mentioned you designed the office space differently than the rest of the house. Will you talk a bit more about that?
When we remodeled the house we intentionally made the bottom floor the office. My wife and I to go back a bit and we both worked at an ad agency. That agency owned my company and I ran the design department out of it. When we had our first daughter, Sadie, we realized we were working all of the time, bringing our daughter to daycare and weren’t around so we thought, “Hey, we can do this differently.” We both quit our jobs, she started a kids’ coloring company, I bought my company back and then moved into here. For me, not only has it helped my creativity, but it has really helped my family. Not only am I around to pick up my kids from school, but I can be a good dad. Since we work a lot, we wanted to create a space that felt separate from the house. We put in concrete floors, track lighting and other elements that feel more office-like. When we leave our work day, we close the door that leads up to the rest of the house. We go upstairs and we don’t come down here. There have been many nights I haven’t closed that door until 2:30 or 4:30 in the morning. If I’m working on something, it’s still better than having to close the door, leaving the house and getting into the car to drive somewhere. I like that aspect a lot. I like that it’s always changing. Kristen is now an interior designer, so as our house changes in style so does the office. If you were here five years ago, it would’ve been completely different. Her style is starting to become a bit more bohemian and collage-style. That’s fun too since it’s always changing.
What are the most important items in your creative space?
Guitar. It’s a nice way to take a break when I’m working. All of the art is hugely important for me. I look at the piece above my desk. The bookshelf is key. Even though I do a lot of internet searching for visuals, I still reference a lot of my books; at this point I have most of them memorized so I’ll think of an image and know which book it is in. Music. I listen to music from 8:30 to 5:30; it’s pretty nice.
How have you navigated your career to where you are today?
That’s funny because I’ve been so many things during different times of my life. I started as an art director, which led to design – since I like that you can hold things and be tactile and interactive. I like that you can start telling stories online with flash and that leads into video. There are a lot of video moments happening online and telling stories in a deeper style. So all of that led to TV which has now brought me to film. I did a documentary a couple of years back and that jumpstarted just doing tv, film work and being a director. This space has helped me do that because people will come to the space and I can really focus and concentrate. I’ve spent a lot of hours just doing one thing; I don’t go to meetings or feel like I need to go to lunch to get out of the office. It’s a really nice space to concentrate and grow quickly. It’s the space I’m in that’s allowed that. When you’re working with a bunch of other people, it’s hard since you’re constantly pulled in thousands of directions and people need your opinions all of the time. I rather just do it through email or phone that are quicker. That’s what’s nice about it. Since this space is constrained, it customizes my business to stay small and stay unlike any other companies.
I have this confederacy of others that all work out of their own spaces. We come together for these projects, make amazing things on this really high level. So I really don’t believe you need the trappings of a huge space.
How do you view the power of photography versus video? Which medium do you prefer to use?
Video always has a leg up. It’s moving footage and there’s sound; you can tell a longer story. Playing with emotions and making that connection with the viewer is easier. Photography is a lot harder. You have one still image. You can’t speak or say anything so the pressure on photography is greater. It’s also fun because of the challenge. I’ve been riding the edge of both for the projects I’ve been working on; photography and film. It’s something I like to do, and the cameras I use are specific for doing that. I really like both. The things I photograph are a little bit different than what I film. When I take a photo I think, “How can I make this the most beautiful image possible?” I literally say that mantra over and over again; is this the most beautiful life, composition, placement, emotion that it can possibly be since I know you only get that one shot. They are both beautiful.
I saw that you are really into running. What kind of affect do you think the exercise has on your work?
Running has changed my life dramatically. I have a lot of energy; super high energy. I use to put it all into my work and I worked too much. Work had an importance to my life that was too important. When I found running, especially trail and mountain running, I found a way to put the excess energy into something that was really important. The way it’s changed my life is dramatic. It’s made me a better husband, father and man. I’m calmer and more balanced in every way possible than I was previously. I am also challenging myself in a way not associated with my family or work; it’s personal. It’s good and key for me. Everyone should try it or find that thing. I started to do it to be closer to my brother. He is a huge runner in Houston. That’s how it started. Now I’m way closer to him, I talk to him often and it’s improved all of these other wonderful things in my life.
On a creative aspect, holy cow, you have hours in your head. I’m out there for hours. It helps with ideas, projects and it mostly helps my edits. I do a lot of writing in my head. I’m in my head up to 4 to 10 hours sometimes and that’s huge. You come out of it and you’re on this amazing high, all of these things solved and ideas to try. It’s been phenomenal. I ran today. Haha.
It’s nuts. You get in that groove and it becomes this beautiful community of really cool people that love the outdoors and are compassionate, kind and crazy strong.
I’m the same way. I get my best ideas from running and being in nature.
Exactly, what’s more beautiful than nature? It’s like when you’re out on a field or along a crest, visually there’s this openness that’s so huge. This visual openness some people only get to experience once a year on vacation. If you do that on a weekly basis, your mind is constantly open and you’re into receiving things. The outdoors is everything.
Is there another specific type of space in which you feel the most inspired?
Just the outdoors. Running, snowboarding, being with my kids, seeing how proud of them I am, doing cool things in the mountains and woods. That’s why I live in San Francisco. I tried living in New York City but I only lasted five months. I left all of my belongings on the side of the road because there was no outdoors, mountains or grandeur. I’m a nature guy.
Any words or wisdom for people just getting started in video?
I know a lot of people say this but, pursue what you love. You’re going to be doing it all the time anyway. If you love what you do and do it all the time, then you’re happy in life. You’ll also get really good at it quickly because you love doing it and you get all of these rewards. If you love making film, then do it and don’t worry about if you’re going to make a living or not. Just go for it. Same with photography – just take pictures. Especially with every creative endeavor in 2014, you don’t need a lot of money or backing. You can be an incredible photography with Instagram. It’s about practicing, pushing yourself and taking risks constantly and screwing up all of the time. It’s being okay with that. I screw up all of the time; it’s expected and every time I do, I learn and don’t screw up again. I always try to push because when you get complacent you’re not moving forward.
I got into film because of a documentary. I had no intention previous to that moment to ever become a photographer or film maker. I bought the camera three days before I jumped on a plane. That experience was life changing; it taught me a great lesson which is to give. We have this creative abilities that can really help people. We can take photos, films, websites, logos and there are a lot of other people that can help. I do a project at least once a year pro bono. The difference you can make by giving a couple weeks of your time is huge. The amount of money they can raise because of that is enormous. We were shooting to do a two minute film on Haiti and ended up making an entire documentary. We raised enough money to build a school down there. When I go back to Haiti I have many friends and I feel proud. I did something. It goes without saying that if you give, you get. It might not be physical, but you’re getting it in your heart. It’s a huge part of my life.