I met Brad a couple years ago at an Oscar party through a mutual friend of ours. We weren’t able to speak too much at that time but what I could tell instantly was Brad’s passion for film and his love of the industry. Since then Brad has become a good friend and I have seen him take that passion and apply to a successful directing career. HIs attention detail, hard work and general love of what he does makes it easy to see why he is so successful. I know Brad is just in the beginning part of his career and you will see much more work by him over many years to come. Enjoy.
As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to start an article by quoting a movie. Now that we’ve sorted that, let’s talk about what I do and how it happened. I’m a director and I work mostly in commercials in Toronto. My wife is a teacher, so I sometimes tell people that she shapes young minds while I try to sell them stuff they don’t need. I figure between the two of us, we break even. Net zero gain. My path to directing was through post-production, something I’d recommend to anyone.
First of all, I did graduate from film school and it introduced me to some great and talented people that I continue to work with today. But I’ve never been in a position where anyone has asked about my degree. What film school did offer was a chance to make bad films in a consequence-free environment. You can put that terrible student film in a box and no one in the industry ever has to know it existed. These were mistakes I needed to make to get to where I am today, but I didn’t have to worry about it sullying my reputation. More important than any education is your reel. Get your reel together and keep it updated. And don’t ever lie and include work you haven’t done. The industry is small and most of us, when we’re not making ads, are watching them online (It’s fun to put Youtube on a timesheet).
After film school I worked as a freelancer on a few shows. (Including one that aired in Pizza Pizza restaurants exclusively #humblebrag) until I landed my first full time gig at an advertising agency, as an in-house editor. This is a great job for any director because suddenly you can watch all the raw footage of the top commercial directors in North America. You see what they did right and more importantly, what they did wrong. You learn which directors shoot for the edit and which ones just roll off the entire card with 30 minute takes and then find the concept in post.
While working at my second agency editing job, I started to get requests to shoot extra content for the agency when they didn’t have the budget to hire someone externally. I jumped at the chance and ended up producing a lot of content for national brands. My big break was a spot for Boston Pizza. It was intended to be a web spot only but did so well, it ended up airing in broadcast as a 60 second spot during the US Open (the golf one). This rounded out my demo reel nicely and led me to where I am now. Last year I signed with a commercial production company called Frank Content. They represent me for commercial work across Canada. I’m in my first year of full-time commercial directing, but because of my past experiences I didn’t have to start from scratch to cultivate new creative relationships.I already know a lot of people in the industry through my time working in-house.
The best thing about working full time as a director is that my time can be very flexible. Sometimes I’m in the edit suite every night or in pre-pro meetings all day long. Then sometimes I have time to myself to work on personal development, my own short film projects, or just binge watch House of Cards. The trick is careful financial planning to make sure you’re still good during those times when work is slow. It’s a balancing act, especially in that first year, but so far I’ve been making it work.
There’s a lot of advice given to young filmmakers and a lot of it is contradictory. There isn’t one piece of advice I can offer that will be the sure path. The best thing I can say is this. Don’t be precious. If you are waiting until your reel is absolutely perfect before putting yourself out there, you never will. There is never a time that there isn’t a risk in going after your dreams. Just send your work out and see what the universe sends back.