Creatives Offscript: Brig, Tool of North America


By Assemble

July 6, 2022

Brig is a commercial director and photographer for Tool of North America, a TEDx speaker, and winner of 11 Cannes Lions including the Top Young Director in 2015. In this interview, hear about how he risked his life savings to break into the world of directing and how he crafted his unique style from his background in art and design.

Find this episode on Apple, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts. Also available at Creatives Offscript.

Nate Watkin: As an accomplished creative director, Brig launched in the world of behind the camera directing after winning the Top Young Director award at the Cannes Creativity Festival in 2015. Since then, he's been directing spots for the likes of Apple, Adidas, GoPro, and Google, while shooting photography that has been featured in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Fast Company, and many others. In addition to his host of awards, including 11 Cannes alliance, Brig has also been featured as a TEDx speaker and is currently repped by Tool as a director for commercial work. Welcome to our podcast, Brig.

Brig: Thank you.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. So I like to always start at the beginning and just go back to where everything began. So you start at Brigham Young University, then I see that you went to Miami Ad School for your master's in art direction. Did you always know that you wanted to become a director or what were your ambitions at that age?

Brig: No, when I was younger, I knew I was really into movies and film, but I grew up in this tiny, small town in Utah and we had one stoplight and I grew up on a ranch and I didn't know that was something that I could aspire to. I never met anyone that was in film. I didn't understand any of that. So I went to college and the first thing I was like, I like stories. So I studied English with no idea of what that would turn into, but I really liked reading and I liked writing and then I realized I have to do something. I graduated and I had a baby and I was married and I realized I got to do something. And my mom knew someone who worked in an advertising agency in New York.

And she was like, maybe go talk to him. And he was like, yeah you should go to school and maybe you could do graphic design and I've always been really into art. So I said, okay. And so I went to school, I went to Miami Ad School and I did art direction and really loved that. And I was right at the transition between digital and print. And so when I was going to school we were still just all about Archive, I don't know if you know that publication, but we were all about just print ads and type and strictly design stuff. And then I got my first at Crispin and all of a sudden it was just about scripts and it had nothing to do with print or type at all. And so all the stuff I learned, I was like, where is that? And they're like, yeah print is boring. No one cares about that anymore.

And so then I started working and I sold my first Volkswagen campaign, pretty early on like two months in. And I still had no idea what I was doing. And we went out to LA and I was like, okay and they sent me to LA and there's this director on set, he walked in and I was so confused. I was so naive and so confused. I was like, who is this guy? Because I thought we wrote it or whatever, and pitched it a million times, I thought we would be making it. And he's like, all right, I got it from here. And he's a really nice guy, Tim Rabbitt, I think it was. Anyway, I right there, I realized that I'd gotten to the wrong field and it's all because I just hadn't had exposure.

It's why exposure is so important for young people. And we talk about inequities of people growing up and stuff. And I think the biggest way to solve a lot of these inequities between minorities and women and these big barriers to entry is more exposure at a young age because if I would've known somebody that was in the film early on, I would've skipped a lot of years becoming a director. So it took me six, seven more years before I finally got behind a camera after I realized that's what I wanted. That was a long answer to answer how I got into it. But to me, it felt like a rocky road that could have been faster with a little more exposure.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. And speaking of exposure, I actually interned at Crispin Porter, I think at the exact same time you were at the Boulder office. I don't know if we ever inadvertently ran into each other there, but I'm sure we know some of the same people. But speaking of which, so the Crispin connection obviously launched originally out of Miami, is that where you got connected with Crispin in Miami and how soon did you move to Boulder?

Brig: It was, yeah. So I was going to Miami Ad School and Miami Ad School does this great thing where they have guest speakers every week. And there was this husband, wife, they were a creative team, art director and copywriter, Carl and Onya, they were ACDs, I think at the time at Crispin and they came and they gave such a great presentation. I was just completely blown away by them. And I said, "Can I take you guys to lunch?" They were like, yeah whatever. But for me it was a very scary and intimidating thing back then. And I showed them my work and I talked to them and they're like, I mean, and that was back when Crispin was at the tippity-top and so they were hiring left and right.

They weren't paying anything, but they were hiring like crazy. And he is like, "Well, you should just come work at Crispin." And I had about, I think six months left at Miami Ad School at the time. My heart stopped and I was like, I would literally do anything because that was my dream job. And he said, "Well we will help you with your book. Just kind of put some final touches on it and then you can come interview." And they did exactly that and I just did whatever they said, trusted them implicitly. And then I had an interview and so before I finished Miami Ad School, I had a job at the Boulder office. By then though Miami office was really winding down. And so I think Carl and Onya were there at the Miami office just for a day for meetings or something, but Alex had already moved to Boulder and it was already kind of off and running.

Nate Watkin: Right. That was a crazy office. They probably still have it, but the big warehouse, what was it? Gun? What was that? What was that?

Brig: Gunbarrel, yeah.

Nate Watkin: Gunbarrel. Yeah, Gunbarrel.

Brig: I was there probably about a year ago and it's all the same. And it's very interesting feeling in that building for sure. You can feel all the late nights and blood and sweat and tears in that place.

Nate Watkin: Yep. And so how do you think being an art director first impacted your career as a director?

Brig: I hope you see it in my work, definitely am a very visual director and we talk a lot about every frame is its own poster. And so when I'm building compositions and transitions and all of that, I'm thinking of it in color blocking and I'm looking at it from a design standpoint. The first thing that I got really excited about design wise was in Poland, they're very famous for making these incredible posters and they're for anything, they're for propaganda, they have a rich history in that. So I found this book that was just all this Polish poster design, and I was enamored with it. And this is way before anybody was doing anything digital. So everything was painted or cut out or whatever.

And they were for operas or gigs or whatever it is. And I just became obsessed with kind of late eighties Polish graphic design. And I think that's what trained me to think in a design hierarchy because in a great graphic design is so important that when you see something that your eye goes to something first and if everything's special on the page, which sometimes clients want, then nothing's special. It's like Clinton's speech writer once said, "You say three things, you said nothing." And that's how I look at composing film is I want the eye to irrevocably go to one spot first and have that be the very most important part. And then you can start saying, okay, if this is the most important part, let's build off that, that becomes the second most and the third most and from there. And I think storytelling and in writing, I think that's crucial too, is that there is a single message that's the most important.

Nate Watkin: And so on your first set, you sell a job, you learn what a director is on set for this job, how long after that, until you got your first crack behind the camera?

Brig: It was a long time, I would say maybe I think nine or ten years, eight or nine years of trying to figure it all out. So I'd work with directors after that as a agency person. And I'd always asked directors the same question, I would say, "How do I become a director?" And it was always the same answer, which was direct something, which is the least helpful advice anyone could ever give someone because we were here spending $300,000 a day of someone else's money and I didn't have $300,000 to spend. And so I was like but how, how do I direct something? And they just kind of shrug their shoulders. And then I'd also ask them the second question, this follow up question, because I was in the grind of the agency world and every agency creative knows what I'm talking about, where you're in the trenches and it's hard.

And there is elements of it that I just hated, just all the meetings and the swirl and the fact that you never get to, you'd write a hundred scripts and maybe make one and be the worst of the hundred. So I'd always ask directors also, I'd say, "What's the worst part about directing?" And they would never give me an answer that deterred me from wanting to be a director. The answers were never very compelling, because being director is pretty sure the greatest job on earth. I think maybe being a musician, a successful musician might be a better job

Nate Watkin: I was going to say that. I was going to say one of those two.

Brig: But even successful actors all become directors at some point.

Nate Watkin: Right.

Brig: And I really do think directing is the funnest thing because you have this thing in your head and you just get to think it up and then you have a hundred of the most talented people you've ever met just coming over to you and saying, "All right, what's in your head? How can we help it happen?" So that's it just such a great feeling. So anyway, so I was like, okay, I need to direct something, don't know how to direct something. And so I would go down all the usual routes. I would try to shoot something on my camera. And then I realized that my technical knowhow wasn't good enough on my little 5D or whatever. And so then I would try to understand that better, but then you need good actors.

And it was just barrier after barrier. And I would get really frustrated and sometimes I would stop. And I went and started a startup. I got some venture capital money and started a startup. Got a couple million dollars that me and my credit partner subsequently lost and we felt really bad about. And then I went and got more jobs in advertising. And then I was at The Martin Agency and my partner, Danny Robinson, who's now the chief creative officer at The Martin Agency and is one of my very favorite people in the world. We were on set for an Oreo shoot and we were riding the next spot that they needed. And it was for mini Oreos and he and I, honestly, we wrote it in half an hour. I mean, we were at a lunch break and we had this idea and we started writing.

And we were just so excited about it and they wanted a 15 second spot and we wrote a three minute spot, little story. And he'd been around a long time, Danny had, and he knew that there was probably no chance. The media was already bought and everything. And I looked at Danny and said, "I'm just going to make this one." And I saw it how I could personally make it. And I think that was late. It was October, November or something, probably November. And then my partner, Bobby, who we've been together since we were 18, we have two kids together and I went to her and I said, we were at Christmas break and the kids were home and I had work off and I said, "Okay, we can either have a relaxing Christmas together in our nice, lovely home in Richmond, Virginia, or you and I can go to Home Depot and build a set and have probably the most stressful, worst Christmas ever, but make this spot."

And she said, "Let's do it." And I said, "Okay." I don't know if I should get into numbers here, but I will. We had $20,000 savings total in our life. That's all we put away. And we had these kids and we had two kids and mortgage and everything. We had this $20,000 and I spent $10,000 of it at B&H Photo in camera gear, buying a Blackmagic camera, which actually was a terrible camera. But it was all rage for a second there.

Nate Watkin: I'm trying to think which one that was, there's been so many.

Brig: It was the first one.

Nate Watkin: Okay.

Brig: It was awful.

Nate Watkin: Was it the handheld one? The small one?

Brig: That was the cinema one. It was bigger.

Nate Watkin: Okay.

Brig: The body was about this big.

Nate Watkin: Okay. I think I remember.

Brig: And I bought a Canon. I have a 50 millimeter Canon cine lens and then I bought sliders and tripods. And I had no idea what I was buying either. The B&H Photo person was just trying to, we were chatting online and I just was like, because my thought was, I'll just spend the money. And it was like when the Spanish conquistador went to the new world, Pizarro and Cortés, as soon as they landed, they would burn their ships and the men would all be there watching them burn their ships and they did it because they said there's no way home. You got to make this work because there is no way home. And so it changed the resolve.

And so I said at the one hand my logical side was saying, "Hey don't spend your life savings. You've got a family." And as anyone knows in advertising, it's precarious employment at best. I mean, there's layoffs all the time as clients and this is our moment, me and Bobby, where we said together, "All right, let's burn the ships. Let's just spend all the savings." So we spend about 10 grand on camera gear and the other 10 grand on props. And especially, we're building a little minimart. And so we went to Home Depot and spent all this money buying materials. And then we threw in a little bit of money for food, for our crew, which is three people and stuff like that. And we went out with my good friend, Evan who knew about directing. And then [Evan's 00:16:41] producer friend, Andrew. And we went out and we put my kids in it and we got the planner, I sat by at work in it and his wife.

Nate Watkin: I was going to ask you where the actors came from. That's awesome.

Brig: Yeah. They're all just friends. And we borrowed somebody's van again and then we just went out and we took my truck and we put this minimart in the back of it. And we just drove out to the fields in Virginia and plopped it down the side of the road and just hoped nobody had come. And a cop did come by actually. And we just said, "We were filming a little film," and he is like, "All right." He didn't care. In LA that wouldn't work at all, but Virginia, nobody-

Nate Watkin: Yeah.

Brig: Didn't happen very often. And so then we had this thing and we never told the client about it, because the client was looking for a 15 second spot. And we wrote a bunch of 15 second spots. So we showed her all the 15 second spots and then we had a TV in the conference room and basically all my hopes and prayers and life savings was dependent on this working and the client saying, "Yes, I'll run this," because I thought there's a big chance the client could just say, "Oh, this is nice. Thank you. Not what we're looking for right now." And so I pushed play and it played. One of the most tensest moments of my life and I looked back and the client had tears run down her face and she says, "We're going to run this. We're going to change it to theater media by, we're going to run this to theaters across the country." It opened for transformers.

Nate Watkin: Wow.

Brig: And so it was kind of a big chance, but it really paid off.

Nate Watkin: Wow.

Brig: And it wasn't just me, obviously. I think becoming a director because there's so many barriers to directing your first thing, it has to be a village effort. You have to lean on so many people and ask so many favors and just plead with people to help you make the vision happen. And I owe it all to Evan and Andrew and Bobby and Danny obviously and the client who said yes. And then after that, it became so much easier. Once you've directed something worth watching, it becomes so much easier.

And that's what I'm working on now, which is, I think equally hard. I'm trying to get in into narrative and features and it doesn't matter what your commercial reel looks like, I bring it in around town here and they say, "Yeah it's really great work. Have you done a feature?" And I said, "No." And they say, "Well we're not going to trust you with this one then, we're not going to back you with this one." So the key right now, I'm trying to do that same thing I did before, which is make that jump and just shoot a feature. And I've been really trying that for about five years and the roadblocks just seem even bigger.

Nate Watkin: Yeah.

Brig: But we just locked edit on two short films, I directed with my partner, Bobby. And we're excited about him and we hope that it's just the beginning of more. And so now we're doing color and mix for him and submit to festivals and see what happens.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. That's an incredible story. And I had no idea the risk and the bet that went behind that Oreo spot and really amazing to hear that. I do have to ask you though, did you get paid back for those production costs?

Brig: No, I didn't. I didn't.

Nate Watkin: Really?

Brig: So when Oreo bought it, they said, well, "Hey, let's re-shoot some of the scenes and increase the production value." Because I mean, it was still pretty rough. It was adorable and you can see, I think both original and the one we shot subsequently, they're very similar. And we actually used a lot of the shots from the first one in the second one, but I don't know. Maybe they would've, if I would've asked them, but I was so excited. I didn't care.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. Yeah. And so this spot goes to Cannes, you end up winning best young director, how did that open doors for you from there?

Brig: Well, from there, I just got a bunch of calls from LA, from Caviar and from Tool and Smuggler and a few different brush companies. And I interviewed with them and then we were off it was from there and they all said, "It'll be a couple years before you probably make any money directing, because it takes a long time to build a reel so do you have a way to earn money for the next few years while we do this?" And I said, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, sure." And I didn't have any way to earn money. So I just had to win. Whenever I got put in the bid pool, I had to win. And I think that need that you have when you got a family and everything, it is a great motivator.

Nate Watkin: And so going back to the original story you were telling me, when you used to ask all these directors, how do I become a director, I think there's always this stigma in the agency world from the director's perspective of like, oh, the creative director wants to be a director but he or she doesn't really know what they're doing. Seeing that and you've now gone on to become wildly successful as a director. I'm going to flip the question on you, what advice would you give to a creative director or just a young creative that wants to get behind the camera and become a director?

Brig: Well, I've thought about this. Ironically, that bad advice that I got to direct something is the advice. It's the only way to do it. I really think that, and that's why I'm trying to take that advice now for my features it's like, well make a feature. And I started following the careers of a lot of feature directors and their first ones, I mean, you have to be either so connected through your family or whatever. That's one way to become a feature director. The other way is to be so persistent that you just make it happen. By hell or high water, you make it happen.

And I think that would be the advice and the cool thing now, obviously what we're seeing is that it's hard to find someone who's not a director at this point with the advent of TikTok and the filmmaking process is being democratized, mostly through technology, but also through just a general creative site geist, that's happening in our society. Everybody is creating and you have a term for it. People are creators and people are influencers. And so I think now people are achieving with their phones way cooler stuff than we were achieving when we were in school trying to make cool stuff. So I would say the secret is to double down on that and to create and to have something worth watching. And it can be literally anything, but I think it's really hard to get the gatekeepers who are allowing and giving people opportunities to direct.

None of them want to take a bet. They don't want to believe that you can do it. They want to see it already happened. And so the more that you can take that in your own hands and make it happen the better. I really think that the path to becoming a director is now way more merit based than it used to be. I think that almost everyone who's directing now is doing it the way I did it, which is to create first and not ask permission and not say, "Hey, will you let me direct?" It's more, "Hey, here's the thing I did already and here's my voice," and see what the response is.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. And I think there's just so many different paths these days, but I think it all does come down to that at the end of the day. We had Ryan Connolly on this podcast with Film Riot. I'm not sure if you're familiar with him, but I mean-

Brig: Yeah, yeah.

Nate Watkin: He just launched that YouTube channel and every week he put out a video for years on that YouTube channel and that eventually rolled into shorts. And then now he's getting management and potentially trying to crack it in the future world as well. But I agree it's just all about creating now, especially with, like you say, the democratization that's happening. And so with everything shifting towards this Gen Z and TikTok and new formats and everybody becoming a creator, I mean, where do you think the future of filmmaking goes especially high end production, high end filmmaking, what do you think that looks like?

Brig: Let me put it this way. I think we've seen it happen in music. So in music, I think that film will follow the way that music's happened. And I'm not sure on any of this, especially because I'm in my own echo chamber, but to me growing up, it seems like we all knew the same 10 bands. We knew the same 10 bands that were awesome. And I prided myself, especially in high school and middle school that I could name every song, I could name every singer. I knew it backwards and forward. And now music, we're lucky if you and I, for instance, I mean, I'm sure that our psychographics are similar, we even know some of the same people, but I'd be surprised if our music even overlaps 25% that because there's so much more music out there and there's so much more curated to these splintered groups. And it's become so much more interesting.

So instead of the 10 bands that are out there being successful, there are now a hundred thousand bands and they're not as successful, right? They don't have as big of a following, but their followers are more niche. And it's more interesting to us individually. And I think that same thing has happened with, YouTube's a great example. With YouTube, there are some big YouTubers that are creating content, but almost all of them are probably only creating content for a million people out of the 4 billion people on earth, the successful are just talking to a million people. And so instead of a big Spielberg movie coming out, there's all of these indie movies and we're not all watching the same 10 movies in the summer.

I think that concept of summer blockbusters, I mean, it's still kind of there, right? You still have the big franchises or whatever, but I think it's going away and there's going to be newer and interesting, more niche films going on that talk to different people. And I think that the budgets therefore will go down in films that we're going to have to figure out how to make films for less than $50 million or whatever the crazy thing is right now. And that there's going to be more of them. And they're going to talk more to individual groups. And in this scenario, whether I'm right or wrong, it will give more opportunity to more directors, but they won't all be Spielbergs anymore, it'll be smaller but-

Nate Watkin: Yeah,

Brig: But I think the technology going into making movies is also creating a way for those films to be done in a lot better price margins or budgets as well.

Nate Watkin: But it's funny when I turn on my Spotify, I feel like it's harder than ever for me to discover new music, even though there's-

Brig: So maybe that's the hole in my problem. Yeah. I don't know. I don't know. That might be a hole in my theory.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. I don't know what it is now I just find myself listening to the same music over and over. So we'll see how that... I agree with you. I agree with your theory is that it's going to become more democratized. It's going to be more about building your own audience and having those niche filmmakers. But yeah, I wonder as the market gets more saturated how do we discover these new people? That's what's going to be interesting.

Brig: Yeah.

Nate Watkin: So you go on to sign with Tool and then of course begin your directorial career. However, you're very collaborative. I see that some pieces you write, others you direct, some you write and direct, how do you determine the role that you're going to take in any given spot?

Brig: Well, Tool has an interesting approach where they work a lot with their reps and they cater a lot to traditional advertising agencies, but then in this new world, they also go directly to brands a lot. And that can be some of the most rewarding work for me because the brands will sometimes say, "Hey, we want something. Can you write it as well?" And that's always a really fun opportunity. And so it's usually those kind of direct to brand stuff that I get to write more, which obviously is really fun to go back to that side of things. I think some directors can get a little burned out because you're always achieving someone else's vision. And so it's fun to have that collaborative process.

And then a great example of that, there was a creative team from Amazon when they were launching the Amazon Alexa and they had this crazy goal that they wanted to shoot 110 second films, because they wanted to showcase all the myriad of ways that you could use Alexa in your life. And so they came to me and we did the whole shooting process and everything. And they said, "Okay, we have 50 scripts," or maybe they had 75, but they were getting cut all the time for various reasons creatively, but mostly because okay, well Alexa can't do that yet or whatever it was. And so they said, we need another 50 of these. And so they invited me to write some and then, so I wrote a bunch and a bunch of those got accepted and then we started shooting and we shot 10 of these a day, 10 scripts a day was the thing. And they're all one set up, 10 seconds. And so they didn't feel too fast but there weren't a lot of cuts, they were just one setup, which was awesome.

But then by the fourth day or whatever, we were kind of chewing through the ones that were already approved and we needed new ones. So at lunch we'd get together and write more together. And it was just like Disneyland. It was such a playground. And because we were shooting these, there's production realities too so we would just look around the house we were currently shooting at and find this location. We're like, well, this thing has a cool greenhouse in the yard, could we do something with the greenhouse? And then we'd concept off of that and we'd have a satellite fall or whatever. And so we were just kind of coming up with them all the time and it was such a fun way to do it. And not even all the ones we shot made it into circulation. And so it felt kind of the Wild West. There was an energy to it that was really fun. So I always appreciate opportunities to write as well as direct.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. It sounds like film school and hyperdrive. You talk about learning how to become a director. I mean, you get Amazon to give you a budget and go shoot whatever you want.

Brig: Yeah. There was definitely a lot of oversight for sure but it was really fun though.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. It sounds amazing. And one of your spots Donate Life, you got to make a campaign about the world's biggest asshole, which was a hilarious spot. I'm curious, what's the most crazy thing you've ever gotten a client to say yes to?

Brig: That was definitely up there. So that one I didn't direct, Speck Gordon directed that and did a wonderful job. It was right when I was leaving Martin, Speck Gordon came to Wade Alger and I, and I was leaving Martin to direct and they said, "Hey, we'd really like to shoot something that's pro bono and mean something." And so Wade said, "Well, we have this client, we have this Donate Life client and they say they want to do something great." And every client says they want to do something great. And then they don't approve very great stuff. And I was kind on my way out and Wade and I, we went and got a beer after work and we kind of came up with this thing and I wrote it, honestly as a joke to make Wade laugh.

I was on my way out and Wade's one of my really, really good friends. And I typed it in email, wasn't even script form. I just typed him as a joke because no client's going to buy a script that has asshole 35 times in the script. We were like, okay, should we actually write something? And Wade was like, "Nah, let's just send this. This is great. Let's just send this." And I'm like, "We're only going to send one thing?" He's like, "Yeah." And so then we sent that in and I kind of dismissed it because it circulated for two years in all these meetings and the president David at Donate Life, he had some donors come to him and said, "Hey, we hear you're going to run this thing, that's something about an asshole."

And he said, "Yes." And they're like, "If you do, we're going to withdraw our funding." And he was like, "You do what you got to do." Because he was trying to speak to millennial people, millennial men especially just were not checking the box and donating their organs. So he was the bravest client I've ever seen. I still can't believe that happened. I would've bet my children on the fact that was not going to get made. And there's just no reason to make a script. We've all had so many great scripts that didn't even say asshole 35 times that should have been made and didn't get made for one reason or another. And I was so used to that. And I was this will never get made, but he was brave and he made it and you know how all the statistics or whatever, but millennial men over the next three months, their organ donation check marks of DMV went up by 400% or something nuts.

Nate Watkin: Wow.

Brig: And people's actual lives were saved.

Nate Watkin: Yeah.

Brig: And I think especially advertising, I mean, I really believe in art as the ability to change things, but advertising I think it's hard to make an argument that we're out there doing some good and changing lives, selling more pizza and cars like we do. It's a fun job, but it's not really fulfilling. And I kind of point to that as the one thing that I ever did that I feel really, really proud of. And obviously it wasn't me, it was Speck Gordon and Wade and everybody and especially the client David that made it happen. But I'm like there, we did some good.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. It's incredible. It's great. So shifting topics a little bit here, what's the most influential book you've read or film that you've seen?

Brig: My influential book that I always go to is called Dandelion Wine, it's by Ray Bradberry. And I read it when I was very young and I read again recently, it's kind of a cheesy book, but it's about this boy growing up in the Midwest and all the splendor that he experiences around him over the summer and he gets freaked out and he gets scared because there's this just kind of typical neighborhood stuff. He thinks there's a serial killer wandering around and then he goes camping with his dad.

And I've wondered why it affected me so much. It really kind of shaped a lot of the way I look at storytelling and look at life and it's because nothing happens in the whole book and it's so ordinary but he's able to find the magnificence in his ordinary living. And to me, great stories do a lot about very little and it's not always just some big dramatic thing. The more interesting things are the small things that have a huge effect on us and because that's what life has really made of, it's just all these little tiny things. So I think the way that's written was just incredible. I really loved it.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. Having read it, but the way you describe it kind of brings to mind a little bit Catcher in the Rye.

Brig: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.

Nate Watkin: And that's how I felt when I read that book, was that nothing really happened, but it was still really impactful to me. But yeah, I'll have to check that out. What was it called again?

Brig: Dandelion Wine.

Nate Watkin: Dandelion Wine. Got it.

Brig: Ray Bradbury, he wrote a lot of short stories that are phenomenal. His most famous one is probably Fahrenheit 451, everybody knows that one.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. Yeah.

Brig: He is a really, really great author. Great voice.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. And what are you reading or what films are you watching these days?

Brig: Right now I'm trying to get through this book called Sapiens.

Nate Watkin: Amazing, amazing book.

Brig: I've been reading it for way too long. It's so dense. And I end up talking about it at dinner all the time. I talk about it like I'm reading it constantly. I'm actually just trying to get through it because it's impossible to read. Have you read it?

Nate Watkin: I have. Yeah. But I agree, it's very tough to get through and the follow up, what is it? Homo Deus I think is supposed to be amazing as well, but I haven't read it.

Brig: It's so fascinating. I love that because it kind of does the opposite. It takes a lot of the mystery and the pomp and circumstance away from why we act the way we do, because all of a sudden you have this big overview look of why humans do all this shit and you realize that we're just monkeys that got a little bigger brain accidentally and are just fumbling around and nothing we do is that important and so I think-

Nate Watkin: Monkeys with ideas.

Brig: Yeah. Which I don't know if that's turning out real well if you look at how things are going, but-

Nate Watkin: Yeah. And so what would you say that you're really passionate about obviously film, but what else comes to mind?

Brig: Lately I've been really passionate about trying to figure out what we're doing here and what I should be doing. It's a problem that is a first world problem. It's a lucky problem to have. When you're just trying to survive, which I was doing at first because I got kids really, really young and all of a sudden I just trying to pay the bills back in the Christmas days. I didn't have these existential questions about what we should be doing, why I'm doing the stuff I'm doing. I'm like, I just got to make rent. And then you get past that and you get to point your career, okay, I'm not as worried about rent so I have time to take a step back and wonder why we're doing what we're doing. And that question for me has become a very passionate part of my life. I grew up Mormon grew up very religious and left that a while ago, 15 years ago or something. And so ever since then, there's been a little bit of a question.

So now I have this place out in the desert that I go to a lot in, Joshua Tree and I spend a lot of time with friends out there and I paint and I read and I write and I try to, I think, answer that question of like, Hey, am I producing enough? Capitalism wants us to just constantly be reaching, making more and buying more cars and doing whatever and it's like, what are we actually doing? And I think the pandemic probably has had a big factor. And I think a lot of people are reanalyzing things and being do we really need to buy the latest car and do the latest thing? Is this actually making me happier? So I think that pursuit of meaning is something that I'm very passionate about right now. And I can't tell you that I'm finding anything yet, I don't think. I think it's still on the quest.

Nate Watkin: Yeah. Well, when you do let me know.

Brig: Yeah, yeah.

Nate Watkin: I think we're all searching for that meaning, but that's important. And so before we go here, we'd love to just hear what's next for you? I know you're talking a lot or you spoke about short films you're directing, getting into features would love to hear just what the next chapter looks like for you?

Brig: Yeah. So I brought her up a bunch because she's such a big part of my life but my partner, Bobby and I, we have recently started directing together. Our kids are a little older and suddenly she's finding herself with more time and she's by far the smartest person I've ever met just sheer intelligence just will blow your mind. And I've always wanted to work with her more and tap into some of that. And so we have been doing short films together and recently doing some commercial campaigns together as well. We just did one, big campaign for Walmart and for Lowe's and we're excited to keep directing together.

So I think that's probably the next step is we're going to keep doing commercial work, but also start submitting short films to festivals. And eventually we'd like to be able to tell our story more and tell the stories that we really care about in some kind of form. I'm not even convinced its features to be honest. I do know that we're here to tell stories, but I'm open to other forms for sure that aren't just a traditional feature form, but that seems like that whole world is exploding. So I'm excited to see where that goes. But I think the future holds me and Bobby telling stories together for sure.

Nate Watkin: Amazing. And last question, I got to throw your question right back at you. What would you say is the worst part about being a director?

Brig: I would say the worst part is the times between finishing a project and starting the next one and wondering, okay, is this a project I should take on? Is this going to be trajectory this way? All that self-doubt that happens when you're not doing, when you're not actively working, whether it's only two days or it's two months in between projects. I find and it's probably just cause I'm not a very settled human, but those times are agonizing for me. And when I'm actively writing or actively on set or location scouting or casting or whatever it is, those I'm like, ah, I have a purpose, I know exactly what I'm doing here and I know exactly what to do.

And it's those in betweens when people are throwing projects at you or people are not throwing projects at you that you have to decide. And that for me is the low times always and then the making is the high times. Also, rough cuts are terrible, but that's not just as a director, that's anybody. You've seen a rough cut for the first time, you've seen it a million times in your head and then rough cuts are awful plummet down to earth. And then the cuts always get better after that. But that first rough cut, terrible.

Nate Watkin: So the worst part about being a director is not directing? Sounds like the best job in the world to me.

Brig: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Nate Watkin: Cool. Well, thanks so much for your time. Really great conversation with you and I appreciate you joining.

Brig: Okay. Well, thanks a lot.

Are you ready?

Try our project management platform for video production

Try Free