Director’s Corner: michele atkins
Q. Why did you decide to take the leap from producing to directing?
michele: I was fortunate to produce Super Bowl spots and Emmy award-winning work with some of the best directors in the industry, including Joe Pytka and Zack Synder. From a young age, I wrote and shot personal projects so I knew I would eventually direct professionally. As a producer, you get to weigh in on aspects of creative decision-making but I wanted to be immersed in it. Some opportunities fell into place and I took the leap.
Q. How does your previous producer role influence your directing?
michele: As a result of having produced for many years, I do extensive research for each project to ensure I am on the same page as the agency or client. I want to make sure that we share the same vision, so the shoot goes as close to flawlessly as possible. I enjoy writing treatments and will often do an edit with still images to give a sense of flow and execution. It’s an understatement to say I like to come prepared.
Q. You have been called a triple threat because you direct, shoot and edit. Is that how you prefer to work?
michele: I’ve always worked that way, so it is very much in my comfort zone. My goal is always to do what is best for the job – so if that means taking on all of those roles, I welcome it. Being a Director/DP allows me to really provide complete visual storytelling – I think visually and that encompasses both roles. Doing both is advantageous aesthetically and is increasingly my norm, especially on content projects and digital campaigns.
Q. What subject or genre do you like to direct?
michele: Love, tragedy, happiness, failure. I am in my element when showcasing humanity and emotion. In the case of Prezi, I deeply understood the anticipatory feeling that came with competing in sports. The moment just before launching off a diving board or going into a boardroom, carry that high stakes, knuckle biting feeling. That connection was instrumental in the spot where we were capturing the moment before the big moment.
Q. What are your hidden talents?
michele: I don’t know if it is a hidden talent, but I occasionally surprise people with my enthusiasm for technology. I enjoy the process of discovery and I like to know how things operate. I’m always trying new things and experimenting. I rented housing for an underwater shoot that I was directing and DPing. The rental house casually handed me a 100-page manual, which I read voraciously and then tested the gear as suggested before taking the plunge (they certainly didn’t expect that!). Also, I love music and it’s impact on visual perception. I spend a lot of time with a music supervisor (wink, wink), which gives me access to a wide variety of composers and small label music catalogues. I often come to set with music in hand so that we establish the tone of the project from the shoot onward. I think about each facet and see projects through completion (even if I’m not editing). It is how my mind works.