How did you get into directing? Who inspires you?
CM: I didn’t come to this school for directing. I was originally an acting major. My inspiration however has always been my older brother. He inspires me to tell stories and follow my heart in everything I do. He’s always supported me and I do this for him and everyone else who’s ever had their dreams dissipated by a careless person.
Other inspirations are Steven Spielberg, Christopher Nolan, Martin Scorsese and Alfred Hitchcock, among others. I enjoy their unique styles, artistic choices and ways of drawing an audience in.
What kind of stories do you feel you are inspired/being called to tell?
CM: My goal is to let people know that they are not alone. Everyone struggles in this life and I think what makes the struggle so hard is the feeling that we are doing it alone when we don’t have to. I write and direct stories that don’t always make sense to everyone watching them, and that’s kind of the point. I do want to reach a lot of people, but at the same time I want to be the voice for the voiceless. I am not really a comedic or romantic person, meaning I don’t desire to write or direct those kinds of stories; I like watching them. I want to tell other people’s stories in an interesting way and film is great for that.
What projects have you’ve done do you feel like has encapsulated that best? Which ones are you most proud?
CM: I’ve written and directed a decent amount since being here, but my top three would have to be: Unworthy, Where the Heart Is, and Contrition. There are others I’ve written but I’m going to leave them a mystery.
So you’re graduating after next quarter. Any plans or goals?
CM: If everything works out I will be interning with Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, CA as a Production Manager in training. After that, my dream job is to work for Marvel, and Pixar would be a fantastic springboard for that.
Have your art and your artistic processes changed since you made the move to Escondido?
CM: My process has usually been the same. The only difference is finding other people to help make those dreams and goals a reality.
When do you feel the greatest need to create?
CM: As messed up as it sounds, I feel the greatest need to create when I’ve experienced some sort of intense emotion, airing usually on the dark side. I rarely create anything interesting when I’m happy. I also work well alone and at night, except this medium kind of forces you to work with others and that’s been good for me.
As you said, this medium is very collaborative. What are the best and worst parts of having to work with a large team on a project?
CM: Best: Getting to work with other passionate artists and bring something beautiful or meaningful to life. Worst: I am super independent, so being open-minded to other ideas can be difficult. Also, working with people you wouldn’t naturally gravitate towards can be stressful and put a huge strain on the entire outcome of a project. It affects the level of communication and general morale. Large teams make life either easier or more complicated depending on the work flow of the group
Being in a Catholic institution and also being in the acting world, how do you think a director with that Catholic identity can impact Hollywood culture in a meaningful way?
CM: By being honest. Hollywood doesn’t necessarily need Catholic artists/people. It needs good people who know who they are and where they stand and how to take a delicate subject and present it respectfully. Care less about the money and much more about story and people. Granted, this is all very idealized, but in my ideal world this would be how it works.
As you leave JPCatholic, what words of wisdom would you like to leave for those you are leaving behind?
CM: Don’t be arrogant. Just because you have some great skill, that does not make you suddenly better than everyone else around you, and chances are you’re going to be working with or for them in the future. So, treat people with respect. A school among peers is the best place to learn this and work out the kinks.
Also, do what you love with a passion no one can kill and you’ll never be bored or discontented. Enjoy failing because at least you tried and you’re that much closer to success. Remember that life is 10% what happens to you and 90% what you choose to do about it; If you choose to do nothing, don’t be surprised if you get nowhere.