SHOOTonline and Robert Goldrich recently had a chat with one of our newest directors, Amanda Marsalis. You can read the full article here.
SHOOT: Share with us your experience as part of the inaugural class of Fox Studio’s Global Director Initiative. Of what value was the program to you, what lessons were learned from the experience?
Marsalis: It may sound a bit melodramatic, but that program changed my life. The group ended up being 20 impressive and amazing directors, all of whom I am proud to call my friends now. Having all of these other directors, who have all kinds of experiences to call upon and ask advice from, created this support that has been invaluable. My continuing relationship with Fox and all the Fox directors, writers, showrunners, is something I quickly came to depend on and has made me a better director.
SHOOT: You started out as a still photographer and have made the transition to feature filmmaking and commercials/branded content. Take us through your career path. How did you successfully diversify into filmmaking, bringing the feature Echo Park to reality. And prior to that, how did the Clare Vivier film come to pass? (As a sidelight, both projects starred Mamie Gummer; how did you connect with her.)
Marsalis: Echo Park came to me as I sat in a friend’s apartment in New York. An email arrived out of the blue asking if I would like to direct a movie. The script was about my neighborhood: Echo Park. Where I live. I could not believe it. It was so serendipitous. It was a gift. It was a story of my neighborhood with a woman my age making a change in her life. The story was not my own, but I set out to make it so. I wanted to look into a moment in someone’s life. Transition. Intimacy. Hope. This spoke to me when I read the script. I was lucky to find Jason McCormick my DP, and then Mamie Gummer who became my muse. It was extraordinary all the help and support that followed. I am used to the much more solitary act of taking a photo. I was surprised at what a pleasure it was to collaborate. My crew and colleagues were so excited to make this film even through all the challenges. I learned so much.
I put myself into the film. My furniture, my photos, my friends, my neighborhood. I used everything I had. I gave it everything. I’m very excited to share this film with everyone.
The Clare Vivier film happened after we wrapped Echo Park. Clare is a friend of mine and had not yet done a video for her brand. We began talking about making one to announce her first store in New York. I pitched my idea and suggested we use Mamie. Clare and Mamie were fans of each other. They have continued to collaborate on other projects as well.
SHOOT: What attracts you to commercials and branded content?
Marsalis: I love to work. And this kind of work is fun. Telling stories is a great way to spend the day.
SHOOT: And what drew you to Backyard as your roost for getting more deeply involved in commercials and branded content.
Marsalis: The team at Backyard is enthusiastic, supportive, hard working, easy to be around, and just great people. I am beyond lucky they took a chance on me.