Our Fine Friends: Paul Trillo, Director

February 05, 2014
- Our Fine Friends
Author - Amy Jacobowitz

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Paul Trillo is exceptional at creating moving images unlike anything you’ve ever seen.

Take this Peach Kings video he just released for example; pared down, wild, natural beauty. It could be a commercial, music video, maybe a short, Paul’s got a full docket of projects he’s mastering, and we couldn’t help but wonder how he gets it all done, and what exactly is going on behind that creative eye of his…

Who are you?

First of all, great question. Still sorting all that out but as of now I am a filmmaker operating out of Brooklyn, NY (not Brooklyn, Indiana).  I write, direct, edit commercials, shorts and music type things. I’m currently drinking an Arizona Rx Herbal Tonic Tea by mistake. It tastes like medicine and it’s gross.

Outline a day in your life.

I adjust myself to an arbitrarily set alarm and then compulsively check my email. I know it’s a bad habit and my girlfriend hates it but for some reason I continue to do that thing. Then get my coffee and start responding to said emails.

Once those are out of the way then I work. What I am working on at the moment always depends on what stage the production is in. I work on every aspect of the commercial and non commercial work I do, from the concept to finishing the post production. Sometimes that means I’m storyboarding, sometimes I’m on set and other times that means I’m running experiments through after effects.

Once I get through a little of whatever it is, I’ll get some thai food and binge watch music videos and talk shit in my head. Not to say that people aren’t making good music videos these days. It’s just that most of them suck.

I’ve found most of my time working as a freelance director ends up being about 80% writing treatment and 20% actually creating. It’s not as exciting as it seems but when I am actually making something it’s the best. I feel lucky to do the work that I’ve done so far.

Once I get all the tedious writing done, I’ll go back to working on one of my scripts. This also can be very tedious and is a mental chess game you play with yourself just to get something on the page.

“If I’m feeling stuck and depressed at any point in the day I’ll eat a snickers bar and take a nap.”

What is your inspiration?

This probably sounds generic or vague or whatever but I really pull inspiration from everything. I think it’s important to look outside of your own field for ideas. If you’re a graphic designer, for instance, and all you do is look at other people’s graphic design all day, your ideas will feel trapped in a bubble. I look outside of film / video to get ideas about composition, color, humor and all that crap.

There is a lot of emerging technology, in regards to filmmaking, that has allowed me to do things that were either too expensive or weren’t even possible 10 years ago. Sometimes it’s the technology or effect that can inform the concept. I try to look for ways of combining something that is more conceptual or artistic with some sort of technical aspect. It’s this sort combination or intersection that I find to be the most compelling.

I’m always looking to play with ideas and approaches I haven’t done before. Usually that means it will be more difficult at the beginning but more rewarding by the end.

What advice do you wish you’d gotten when you were just starting out? (or alternatively, what advice now would you give to someone just about to embark on creative endeavors?)

“Don’t think your ideas are precious” I would have told a younger me. They’re not. Ideas are just ideas. They are a intangible currency that doesn’t have much value unless you actually produce the idea, then it’s worth something. If you have a defined opinion, defined taste and quality you maintain, then you’ll always develop new ideas. So it’s ok to let some go.

Also “Don’t be afraid of changing things”. When I was younger I always thought that I needed to honor and execute my original idea because that was always the most pure. The more I write and direct, the more I see that is about the evolution of a project. It’s ok if other people have opinions and those opinions alter the idea. It’s all a part of the process.

Do you listen to music or news while working? How about during unwinding time?

Depends on how much room I need to give my brain to breath.

It usually goes that I listen to the news on my morning walk to the cafe. Get that out of way.

Then if I’m doing something mindless / non verbal, I have a few go to podcasts like WTF, RadioLab, Comedy Bang Bang, Studio 360, TED Radio Hour. All stimulating in different ways.

When I’m working on a script, occasionally I listen to music as it can create an underlying emotion. Or at least it feels that way when you’re writing to music. It’s probably completely in my mind but it creates something more concrete, a soundtrack, to your imaginary scene. There is a certain tone I can discover and hone in on through selecting the right music. That tone feels incepted into the DNA of the writing.

Some of the artists I listen to specifically when working on my script are Sparklehorse, Sleep Party People, Ty Segall, Willis Earl Beal, Michael Kiwanuka, Beach House to name a few. All pretty damn melancholic but they also have a sort of film soundtrack feeling to them.

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What’s your favorite hidden spot in the city (NYC/Brooklyn, or otherwise)?

When it’s nice out, I like biking down to Redhook and exploring all the abandon lots and docks down there. It has this certain mood to it. It’s deserted but still has the fingerprints of humans everywhere. Eventually I’ll find something to shoot in those abandon cement lots.

Anything exciting coming up that you want to plug?

Definitely. Excited to finally release the video for the Peach King’s “Be Around” I shot random little bits and pieces for months and it’s taken a couple months since completion to finally get out there. I’m proud of it.