Chris Rupert is a director whose work includes a short documentary about the life of photographer Albert Watson and the film Driving Force. Here is a link to his website:
Q: What made you interested in becoming a director?
A: I’ve always had a passion for image making and a love for learning. It was the desire to challenge myself and continue learning that led me to editing and it was their I fell in love with the laungage of film and story telling. Me being a photographer, I gravitated towards being a cinematographer but the more I learned about the process the more I realized I am a Director at heart.
Q: How does directing commercials differ from directing other kinds of films?
A: Besides the obvious of having to tell a story in 30 seconds, I find with commercials the creative process is almost all done before we get on set. So much money is riding on that 30 second finished piece, combined with layers of agency people and clients, every bit of creative has to be signed off on before we roll even a second of footage-Which does make for really smooth and predicable results. Where as in longer form pieces I work on, we go into them with a plan but they tend to lend themselves to more exploration on set and even in the post process. The other big difference, is on commercials a lot of the times your not as involved in the post process, the ad agency takes over after principle photography is wrapped. Where with other kinds of films, I find directors are able to maintain complete control of the film all the way through to the finished piece. I really enjoy both and I’m happy that I’ve been able to experience both mediums.
Q: What is Driving Force about?
A: Driving Force is about how a young guy’s only escape from his menial, miserable job is longing for the gorgeous shop mechanics who don’t even know he exists. Until the day that one of them fulfills his fantasy by taking control and shattering his reality as they hit the open road.
Q: What inspired you to make the film?
A It started when a fashion stylist friend (Mimi Le) and I sat down and started planning out ideas for a short film about a girl biker gang. Then about that same time I was asked by The Kim Dawson agency to create a short film for them. They had a few request for the film but for the most part the assignment was pretty open so we combined the projects and you have Driving Force.
Q: What are the most important personality characteristics for a director to have?
A: Vision, creativity, empathy, leadership skills, drive, and the ability to influence others. I once heard that a great director not only manages what happens in front of the camera but he/she also manages his/her crew behind the camera. I like to add to that and keep clients happy and excited as well. Part of the art of directing is being able to translate your vision to a cast and crew, and bring them together for the one goal of getting your project made.
Q: Who are some of your influences?
A: Oh man, I’m inspired by so much and so many. I think if you’re open to life, there are bits of inspiration all around us. On a directing level, I’ve always loved the work of Wes Anderson, Michael Gondry, and I’m recently been very inspired by Noam Murro, and another new director.
Q: Who do you think is the most overrated director in history?
A: Oh man – I have so much to learn and am so young in my career I don’t feel like I’m qualified to diss on any director. Everyone has something to learn from, even if it’s what not to do.
Q: What made you want to make a documentary about photographer Albert Watson?
A: That was an assignment that came along from Neiman Marcus. I jumped at the opportunity because the team on the project was great and Albert Watson is a legend. He had so many great stories, we could have cut a feature from all his interviews.
Q: What is your strangest work story?
A: Haha – so many. That’s why I love working in this industry so much. Everyday is a new story or experience. Just the other day on set, my line producer walked up to me and said – “agh, the tiger trainer didn’t bring enough cage so we are going to have to film the tiger with the gate open, and by the way the monkey is throwing a fit and may not drive the bumper car after all”. Only on a film set can someone say all that to you with a straight face. But I think the most bizarre story that illustrates how crazy you can be in this industry and it still be ok. Back when I was starting out and was working as a Digital Tech, I had this one job with a NY photographer who was just so off the wall. He walked in the studio and refused to do any work until his assistants hung a disco ball, and not as a prop or as part of the set, but just for him and his working environment. Oh there is so much more to that story but that’s a good taste.
Q: What is the main difference between art and crap?
A: Well they always say art is in the eye of the beholder, but I do believe when an artist has truly poured his life into a project then that time in preparation, research, and execution will pay off and show up on the canvas, in a sculpture, a film, or whatever the medium. And I believe that level of dedication and hard work can be repeated by all even if the final product is not your cup of tea.
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)