We had the good fortune of connecting with Adrian Ursu and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Adrian, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I grew up in Detroit for a good chunk of my younger years but I was born in Romania. My family immigrated to the states when I was about a year and a half old, and over time I had a bunch of cousins move onto the same block. We all lived in duplexes with my grandparents living below us, so we were always close to family. Our block was super diverse culturally, ethnically, and racially and everyone played, ate, and hung out together all day long. It was the best. We had more freedom back then and I used to love to run around and explore the alleys, and random buildings, some abandoned and empty. Then I would go home and explore the more introverted side of my personality by drawing for hours by myself. That led to finding photography at a very early age with my Kodak cube flash camera that I got from selling enough chocolate for our school candy sale. There was always an emotional connection to what I was doing. I always looked for that even though I wasn’t necessarily aware of it. I still have some of those photos and drawings tucked away in various boxes. That was the start of my thrust into life and then retreating into my own world, something I still do to this day. All of life goes into the work I do and the projects I’m writing and want to do over the coming years. I still look for that same feeling of wonder or emotion when I’m deciding what I want to work on or when I’m on set shooting or in an edit. I know it’s not done or not quite right if I don’t have that feeling or connection.
Please tell us more about your career. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I’m a writer and director and all-around filmmaker, but I feel like I really learned the craft of filmmaking by working as an editor for many years. It started when I read the Robert Rodriguez book, “Rebel Without A Crew,” and something clicked for me. The impossible became possible. It wasn’t about the budget anymore—which was nonexistent for me—or the crew—I didn’t know or have those people around me yet. It was about having something you want to make and making it. You were the crew. That lead me down the road of using my photography background to learn how to use the Panasonic DVX and be my own cinematographer. That was the camera to use if you wanted some affordable and cinematic looking footage at the time. And I had already dabbled with iMovie and hopped over to an early version of Final Cut Pro so I could edit. I had ideas and it was time to get them down in script form, but at the time, even a short film seemed like too much, so I started by writing and shooting scenes. That simple approach got my head into the right space. I knew all I needed to do next is string scenes together in a way that made sense for how movies should feel and flow. Maybe that’s too simplified, but it was better than overcomplicating it at the beginning. I love that I had to learn it all to make something. That hands-on approach proved so vital in finding my voice or at least the first whispers of my voice as a filmmaker. Crafting those scenes and the short films in the countless late-night hours was so vital in my journey. Even today, I still love getting hands-on with passion projects. In between the commercial jobs, I’ll go back to the “Rebel Without A Crew” mode to explore ideas for stories that will grow into something bigger. Those early pieces I wrote, directed, shot and edited were the path to people bringing me on board for paying work. I slowly got to build a body of work that allowed me to make a living while working on passion projects. I still bring all of that scrappiness to projects I do that are fully crewed by having a clear idea of what we need to do without much wasted time and effort. Having that cinematography experience and sitting in countless hours of editing, I can problem solve things before they become a problem.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I live on the Westside and love everything this part of Los Angeles has to offer. I would probably start with breakfast or lunch at Back on the Beach Cafe because you can’t beat having your feet in the sand at the beach while enjoying some good food and good company. If we were going straight for the coffee fix, the first stop would be Primo Passo in Santa Monica, whether it was morning or afternoon. Unless we’re in Venice, then it’s Blue Bottle Coffee followed by Blue Star Donuts. There are so many great places to hang out and eat that it comes down to the personality of the person visiting to nail it down, so here’s my list by activity. Outdoors: Hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains with amazing ocean views. Surfing at any one of the local spots or simply hanging out at classic spots like Surfrider in Malibu and taking it all in. Riding bikes along the paths at the beach. As a long time rock climber, if the guest climbs too then we have plenty of areas to pick from for a morning, afternoon or full day of climbing. Food: My wife and I had dinner at Art’s Table in Santa Monica on our first date. We still love to go there and the food is always great. If it’s seafood that the guest fancies, then Blue Plate Oysterette on Ocean Ave. The Butcher’s Daughter in Venice. Holy Guacamole on Main Street for tacos or burritos. Oh man, this list could be endless but those are a few of my go-to’s. I like to hang anywhere with a good view.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My mom is a huge part of my life pursuing the arts. Perhaps that sounds like an obligatory answer but she was the one always giving me the room and even pushing me at times to keep creating, even when it wasn’t the “sensible” thing to do. I went from drawing, photos, and painting, then studying architecture. And when I hit grad school and found my heart pulling me towards filmmaking, which, in all honesty, it had been doing the whole time. That’s when I pivoted towards filmmaking by taking every job a set had to offer so I could learn the ropes. My mom was really cool and supportive the whole way through. Fast forward to me meeting my wife and connecting on the fact that we both had some production background. She quickly became my biggest fan and supporter, not to mention my reader when I’m writing. Man, she can see the plot holes a mile away. The number of sets we’ve been on together and all those experiences is pretty awesome. Filmmaking is such a huge task and labor of love and knowing I have someone who understands that so completely and supports me so thoroughly, makes it easier to push forward to achieve all the things I set out to do. Always make sure you have your support system. And make sure to be supportive of others. We all need some good people in our lives.
Other: https://vimeo.com/adrianursu https://adrianursu.tumblr.com