Sharp, witty, colourful, youthful, upbeat…. I could go on describing your work but how would you sum up your film style?
Well I can say I’m inspired by work that’s clever and “considered”. By that I mean work that is thoughtful and expresses a unique voice, while being creative with every possible aspect of the filmmaking spectrum – so I like to see work that gets playful with editing, composition, character, styling, production design etc. I’m very aesthetically-minded, but I don’t want to commit to any single “style” per-se.
Film School or learning on the job?
A bit of both. I studied acting performance at the theatre school at Chapman University, but it was a joint program with the film school; so I also took classes in directing, editing, cinematography etc. That program opened up opportunities for me to work on set on student film projects and that hands-on experience with production taught me more than I learned in the classroom.
How long have you been directing?
I started in 2012.
Were you brought up in a particularly creative background?
Neither of my parents, or anyone in my family, works in a creative field – so I guess I’m the first artist in the family. But my parents were always supportive. I think my creative upbringing has more to do with my friends and the area I grew up in. We were always playing in bands and making videos to post on MySpace for fun. So since an early age I’ve surrounded myself with people and an environment that fostered my creativity.
Where was home then and where is home now?
I was raised in Moorpark, CA which is a suburb about an hour north of LA. Now I live in Los Feliz in LA.
Your work, particularly Vogue China and Margaux, are fashion films ostensibly. Is this a genre you would like to become more involved in? Or is it that you’re simply good at capturing cool young people?
Branching into the world of fashion film was definitely an intention. I had been doing music videos for so long and I wanted to express myself in another medium. I was interested in doing something equally as creative but with a more commercial landscape. Fashion film felt like the sweet spot because, when it comes to branded content, I see a lot of interesting work being valued there.
What’s your worse production nightmare / lesson?
I’ve actually been pretty lucky – I can’t really think of any “nightmare” experiences. I’ve definitely had my fair share of experiences with artists showing up late to music video productions, clients not paying enough attention to creative, etc – but that just comes with the territory. I’m proud to say that I’ve surrounded myself with teams of good people.
Do you write your own visual narratives?
Please describe your creative process – generally. Do ideas come readily when you see a brief or is it a more laboured process?
Honestly, it varies. There have been moments when I’m instantly inspired with an idea and it’s like lighting in a bottle. Other times its more of a labored process where I sort of have to manufacture that inspiration. But regardless, my process always involves a lot of personal brainstorming and pre-vis work, while I pace around my apartment like a mad man.
Do you sketch out storyboards?
Yes. I’m quite premeditated and always blue-print my composition precisely. But I’m not an illustrator, so I hire storyboard artists to work with me on pre-vis.
Do you like to collaborate with a usual crew?
Typically, yes. I’m always open to and looking for new DPs, PDs, and Producers. Each project is unique. But that being said, there are key people that I love to work with and work with often. Team is crucially important to me.
What part of the filmmaking process do you enjoy the most?
Tough question. I love pre/principal production because that’s when you’re down in the trenches, working to make your vision a reality. It’s fun and expressive. But post is great too (I edit my own work) because that’s where I can be more personal and literally put the pieces together and watch it come alive, which is very rewarding. I suppose I love it all.
What’s coming up next?
Short term – I can’t reveal much but I’m currently collaborating with PAPER magazine on a branded short. Long term – I’m currently scripting my debut feature. It’s a surreal, stylized, and true story about the life of my father, which is a stranger-than-fiction journey that involves my dad traveling from Chicago in the 60s to Studio City in the 70s, discovering three different dead bodies along the way. Working title is “Red Velvet & the Monte Carlo”. I’m excited about it.
See Daniel Iglesias’s instagram stories showing a more in-depth look behind the projects: