Filmmaker of the Month • August 2019 • Andrew Laurich
Filmmaker of the Month - August 2019
Over the last several years, Laurich has directed several award-winning commercial campaigns for various brands. Most recently, his PSA for Zero Cancer was a winner at the 2019 AICP Awards and was shortlisted at Cannes. He was ranked amongst the top comedy directors in the world by Source Magazine in 2018. Last June, his branded short for Fox Studios and Mars Candy, “Live Bait”, won bronze at the Cannes Lion fest, and his campaign for Fat Tire was ranked amongst the top five ads in the country by Fast Company magazine. Previously, his film, “A Reasonable Request”, was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. The film also played SXSW, Raindance, among other fests, in addition to being named one of VICE’s Best Short Films of 2015 and Vimeo’s Top Videos of 2015. Earlier in 2015, his music video for musician Rob Cantor, "Old Bike," was nominated for Best Music Video of 2014 at the One Screen Festival. Previously, Laurich was selected for Shoot magazine's 2011 New Director's Showcase. He’s currently in development on a feature with Fox and a TV show with Vice. He lives in quickly gentrifying downtown Los Angeles.
Filmmaker Interview with Andrew Laurich
Tell us your backstory. How and why did you get into the filmmaking?
Welp, it’s been a circuitous path (to use the biggest word I could think of). Started in early high school attempting to make wedding videos look like Kubrick films on my Dad’s VHS camcorder. Figured out how to jury-rig two VCR’s to edit these masterpieces. Then I graduated to film school at the University of Michigan, where I concentrated in screenwriting. After some ridiculous short films and a few really bad scripts, I decided to take my talents to LA, where I started interning at Anonymous Content. I was quickly seduced by the world of commercial directing, and have chased that pursuit simultaneous to my narrative ambitions. But WHY I got into filmmaking? I think I became obsessed with trying to impress people, ultimately. The thing that hooked me was showing my first film to an audience and seeing them react so positively. So… ego.
What are the specific qualities that, in your opinion, make a film great?
A great story is an obvious answer, but what does that mean? To get more specific, I’d offer that a great film is a cocktail of the following ingredients:
1) accessible characters — somehow, they’re real enough that we relate to them. Ideally, there’s either a transformation or revelation they undergo through the process of the film.
2) Some amount of suspense and tension. Often there’s a dramatic question that keeps you glued to the story. But these are ingredients that keep you engaged.
3) A consistent tone. This is important so that you don’t lose the audience. The movie knows what it wants to be.
What films have been the most inspiring or influential to you and why?
I think my influences are all over the place and vary project to project. Much of my all-time top ten — like many of us — are tethered to nostalgia. For me, almost anything that came out of Amblin in the '80s and ’90s: E.T., Back to the Future, etc… But in high school, I found myself — like many of us — getting a little more “artsy”. I fell in love with Almodovar and Wong Kar Wai… But currently, I think I get a lot out of Spike Jonze and Haneke… oddly.
What’s harder? Getting started or being able to keep going? And what drives you to continue making films?
For sure being able to keep going. Getting started’s the easiest part. It’s dealing with the wake of half-baked projects I’ve abandoned that’s tough.
How do you know when your story’s finished, when to walk away?
I think there’s a fairly concrete answer to this. USUALLY, it’s the moment when the character has completely changed that you end the film. OR, the reveal that they haven’t. Think about a Clockwork Orange… the film ending on Alex as his mind drifts to pornographic thoughts and violent imagery, dramatically revealing that he has not changed.
What are the next project or projects you are beginning work on?
I’m currently in development with Fox on a feature version of a short film I made. I’m also pitching a TV show about an underground Mexican basketball league with Viceland TV. I’m ALSO working on being a better steward of my indoor plants — that’s a big project.
If there is one or more thing you think would make the film industry better, what would it be?
This is a great question. Incidentally, I think he industry writ large has become more accessible with the proliferation of affordable equipment and editing software. It seems like there are also more avenues for distribution — with the rise of streaming platforms — than ever before. So, I think making the industry better comes down to two things: director’s having final cut, and decision-makers knowing film. Since studio execs started to be dominated more by MBA’s than filmmakers, we’ve seen more safe gambles and less original content. So… we need to go back to a system that prizes the splashy spec script over the sequel. Somehow.