Today we’d like to introduce you to Dri Sommer.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I was born and raised in Campinas, Brazil. Growing up, I always had a camera in hand and a theater production on my mind. When I wasn’t filming something with my Sony Camcorder or rollerblading with my best friends, I was directing and hosting monthly theater performances in our living room – inviting the whole neighborhood and charging R$1 admission in order to embellish the next month’s spectacle.
When I was 13 years old, I packed my bags and moved to the United States: Chapel Hill, North Carolina specifically. Though I was eager to live the “High School American Dream” with camera crews and house parties awaiting me at the red carpet, a sea of flashes never arrived and my dad’s one-year engineering job contract turned into…forever. I only spoke enough English to say “sorry, I don’t speak English” and my extroverted skin peeled off…But in hindsight, this is when and how my deep passion for expressing through images really emerged — not only through a desire to create but out of a necessity to communicate.
I did eventually integrate into American culture and majored in Directing & Cinematography at the University North Carolina School of the Arts. My time there was definitely a classic period of undaunted liberation where I felt anything was possible. A place that left me in love with potential, humbled, impressed and scared. I’m still very close with mentors and classmates from those years.
In the summers, I freelanced at a Virtual Reality company, Here Be Dragons, as a Director of Photography — which eventually turned into a full-time position. As a Dragon, I filmed 7 VR documentaries across the globe and fell in love with experience-oriented storytelling. Those years taught me that there are so many mediums of expression beyond cinema and gave me a profound appreciation for work at the intersection of art, technology and social justice.
In 2020, I am a director focusing mainly on music videos and commercials. In my spare time, I am brewing a few immersive experience ideas for post-COVID times as well as working with local organizations fighting for decarceration, social justice and police abolition.
Has it been a smooth road?
I can’t say it has always been a smooth road, but I’ve thankfully always had a wonderful support system of family, mentors and friends. On January 5th, 2017, I was laid off as part of a company downsizing that eventually shut down. I remember hopping on an overnight Greyhound that same Friday to attend an Immersive Design Conference in San Francisco and feeling totally untethered from reality. I was still fresh out of college, experiencing a break-up and serious family health issues, while petrified by massive credit card debt and a dried up bank account.
As cliche as it sounds, being laid-off from my first job out of college was the best thing that could’ve happened. I was humbled. That particular experience (on top of other set-backs and challenges) molded my resilient psyche, one that tackles obstacles by redirecting towards a life that is exhilarating and unusual. And when fear and insecurities arise about paths I am following in life, which they often do with a gnawing persistence, I always remind myself to pursue people, projects and collective movements that spark a deep curiosity within me. Tuning into excitement and curiosity, instead of constantly doom-scrolling and comparing myself to everyone else’s Instagram highlight reels, has proven to be the key to sanity for me in Los Angeles. If a project is fascinating and uplifts folks other than myself, then that is time definitely worth spending.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
My business partner, Nicol Biesek, is the other half of my newest adventure. Together we started a directing duo, SVN QNS, focusing on commercials, music videos and narrative pieces. We complement each other in every way, whether it’s fusing our expansive professional backgrounds or continuing to build our partnership. But most importantly, we are best friends (very often confused as sisters) and are so stoked to continue building a dope team of creatives to tackle upcoming projects. Our goals for the next few years, as two Latinx creators, is to uplift marginalized voices around us and tell stories that highlight our heritage to counter the dominant, homogeneous narratives of mass media.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Absolutely — people always say there’s always something happening in LA, and they’re not wrong. No matter what kind of work or medium you’re trying to express yourself in, there is a home and community for you in Los Angeles.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/drisommer/ & https://www.instagram.com/svnqns/
- Other: https://vimeo.com/380337234