We had the good fortune of connecting with Carla Dauden and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Carla, what do you think makes you most happy? Why?
I’m happy when I have a healthy balance between my professional and personal life – and when the work I’m doing means something to me and the people involved. I can’t help but mention Hitchcock’s definition of happiness: a clear horizon. I share that vision, and I think I’m truly happy when the path ahead is clear and I can devote my time and energy to the things and people that matter to me. As to why – I think the older I get, the more I value my time here and the quality of my everyday life.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m a director and currently work in the commercial and film industry. Starting a career in filmmaking is never easy – but I was very lucky to have access to an education and a safety net that allowed me to take risks and build a portfolio. The most challenging part of being a director is that you don’t usually get opportunities to just be one, you must create your own opportunities – and most of the time, that involves investing in your own work and simply going out and shooting, which can be quite lonely. In the very beginning of my career, I understood that if I wanted to get something made with little to no money, I would have to learn many aspects of the craft – so I wrote, produced, edited, worked on special effects, and shot a lot of my own projects. The final product wasn’t always great of course, but I got to practice and evolve by doing it. I see many people wanting to direct, but very few people actually doing it. Like in any other profession, you get better through practice – and nowadays, with all the tools we have, shooting and distributing content is easier than ever. I’m still learning a lot – but one of my biggest lessons so far has been to not underestimate the time you need to do your job well. Good work takes time, and as a director, it’s your job to protect the project and make sure you can execute it the best way possible. Of course you must adapt to budget and many (many!) other circumstances – but whenever possible, be strong and push for what you need. Along with that goes another lesson I learned: when you do not have the time or money, keep it simple. Great stories can be told from a small living room – don’t overcomplicate things if you won’t be able to execute them. I can’t say how many times I’ve put myself in that position, and it’s not fun. Lastly, I learned that you are only as good as your team; you can have the best vision and idea, but if the people around you can’t help you execute it, you will have a very hard time bringing it to life. You want people who are on board with you and share the same passion and vision. Once you find those people, keep them close. I’m very passionate about the filmmaking process and love to be challenged and come up with creative solutions. I’m especially happy when the product of my directing can have a social impact, create empathy towards something or someone, or simply move the viewer.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would probably start with the beach – I love Manhattan and would take them around for a bike ride, and then a bite at Surf Food Stand (north of the pier) – good food and GREAT vibe. I would then take them for coffee around the Abbot Kinney area – Gjelina, Rose Cafe, Gjusta – and then for dinner downtown at Perch. I would also take them to Point Dume for a hike, and then stop for lunch at Malibu Farm (on the pier) or Paradise Cove. Then I would go to the Getty (villa and museum if possible), and have dinner on the Eastside at Melody on Virgil. With some luck, I would try to catch a concert around that area. I would make a day out of Huntington Library, including a stop at the Garden Tea Room for brunch, inside the park. For a downtown day, I would take them to brunch at the central market, then walk to the Broad Museum, to MOMA, The Last Bookstore, and finally, I would stop for a late lunch or early dinner at Chicas Tacos. I would also make sure we stopped for ice cream at Salt and Straw, and would end the day at the Griffith Observatory. I would take them hiking around the Culver City steps – and then take them for lunch at Roberta’s or Loki at the Platform. Last but not least, I would take them to eat some Korean BBQ at Quarters, and if possible would also devote a night to The Magic Castle. If they felt like dancing, I would take them out for a drink at Sassafras Saloon, The Edison, or The Victorian.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My shoutout goes to my family – who supports me everyday – to the mentors I’ve had along the way, to the brilliant filmmakers that have directly or indirectly influenced my work, and to NALIP – a wonderful organization that has shown me the immense value of community in our industry.