Today we’d like to introduce you to Michel Kreisel Vaisberg.
Michel, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I grew up in Venezuela during a time of intense political turmoil. With a lot of tension on the streets, films provided me with an escape from the chaotic reality I was living. I fell in love with movies and soon started making my own. I was dreaming up imagined worlds much different from my reality, places where curfews didn’t exist and the only limits were within my imagination.
During my time as an undergraduate in the U.S., I immersed myself in a broad study of the craft of filmmaking and discovered my passion for directing. But I knew that I had to start somewhere, so I decided to concentrate on visual effects, which I also quite liked. Upon graduation, I was hired by Rhythm & Hues, a prestigious visual effects company that brought me to Los Angeles. Throughout my six-year career as a VFX artist, I was fortunate to work on some extraordinary projects such as Life of Pi, X-Men: First Class, and Harry Potter 7.
While I was working in VFX, I started making short films with my friends in my free time. It soon became clear that I wanted to focus on directing, so I applied and was accepted to USC’s School of Cinematic Arts MFA program. During my time at USC, I concentrated on honing my abilities as a writer/director. I directed several shorts, ultimately creating my thesis film A Cake for Lizzie, which has screened at several prestigious festivals.
Right now, I am working on lining up the financing for my first feature film, which I am hoping to direct this year.
Can you give our readers some background on your work?
I love the idea that when you sit to watch a film, you forget about your problems. You get to worry about someone else’s. Temporarily, their reality becomes yours. This escapism was what first attracted me to movies and filmmaking and it continues to shape the stories I tell. I don’t confine myself to a specific genre but find that the films I direct often fall under thriller or science fiction. Through my films, I want to take people on a journey beyond everyday reality and into the fantastical or absurd. I want to show them different worlds and heighten situations that they might not otherwise experience.
While the audience is inhabiting someone else’s reality, you have an excellent opportunity to start a conversation that goes beyond just the story of the film. I always concentrate on making sure I am saying something with my movies that is relevant to what we as a society are going through.
Any advice for aspiring or new artists?
Filmmaking is a collaborative endeavor, and to succeed you need to be a team player. This would seem like an obvious thing, but throughout my career, I have seen a lot of people put their egos above the rest and it never ends well. People perform their best when they feel valued.
Personal picture by Manuel Trotta
BTS still by Matthew Hersh