We had the good fortune of connecting with Corey Ulrich and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Corey, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Throughout my career I’ve encountered pivotal moments where I’ve had to decide whether to take a risk or go the safe route. In those moments, I’ve always taken the risk, because to me, I have no choice but to follow the more difficult or scary path. If I don’t, then I’ll never step forward in my career.
Examples of this have been whether to say yes to a directing or cinematography job that seems daunting or bigger than I’ve ever done, agreeing to animate 3D sequences in a program that I just started learning, or probably the biggest one, which was deciding to move across the country from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in a matter of three days, just so I could film a music video with a big artist for the first time.
During each of those critical decisions, there has been a moment where my body and mind are overcome with a rush of panic and anxiety at the thought of, “can I really do this?” Then I think through what lies ahead and what needs to be done, step-by-step, and then tell myself, “you will do it, you can handle this, you have to get it done.” Then the feeling of panic washes away and I have the confidence to take that risk, because backing out is never an option.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m a visual storyteller at heart. An idea for a project may come from a single image in my head, say a rim-lit door at the end of a dark hallway. That image can have an inherent tension and tone, which I can then build the rest of the story from. I love to conceptualize a project in its totality, starting from one initial source of inspiration, so that all of the elements are united around that central idea.
I was always the kid in school who made a video for a project as opposed to a poster-board presentation. That excited me because there was so much potential to present an idea in a way that wasn’t straightforward or conventional. After going to Tisch at NYU for film and TV, I worked with a big music video and commercial director as her assistant, developing ideas for projects and being involved in every aspect of the production. I worked with a lot of amazing cinematographers, production designers, and editors. It really expanded my skillset and showed me how to realize the ideas that were in my head. From there I’ve worked in various roles as a showrunner, director, editor, and DP, which have all enriched the visual language that I continually draw from.
A couple of crucial things that I’ve learned are to always get things in writing, whether it’s a contract for a job and agreed-upon pay, or a schedule of deliverables and deadlines. Verbal agreements alone have resulted in being taken advantage of, especially in the early stages of my career. Something else I’ve learned is to always value myself highly and make clients and employers see that through continually delivering great work.
The biggest challenge in my career growth has been convincing others that I’m ready for that next step or that next big opportunity. I think it’s something that everyone with great ambition struggles with, is to break out of the “box” or level that you’re in. It’s understandably a risk on both sides, and the way I’ve been able to break through is to treat any project big or small with great importance, and always highlight the best parts of my work for others to see.
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.
-Go to a show at the Hollywood Bowl. I’ve had some of the most amazing concert experiences there, because usually a show starts around sunset and continues into the night, which really creates a special vibe unlike any other venue. -Eat by the beach at Playa Provisions or Blue Plate Oysterette. Beach breezes and delicious food, can’t really beat that.
-Head up to Malibu and drive down PCH at sunset.
-Get ice cream at Salt & Straw. Their flavor combinations are always amazing. My other favorite dessert spot is Sidecar Doughnuts.
-Get drinks on the rooftop of the Ace Hotel downtown. The views are awesome and the vibe is always great.
-Visit the Getty Museum. The architecture and setting are incredible, the light on the cream colored stone buildings and walkways is beautiful, and the art collection there is always changing.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to dedicate my shoutout to my parents. They’ve always pushed me to achieve the best that was possible in everything I did, whether it was academically, athletically, or artistically in my life and career. They did this because they knew that I had the brains and talent to achieve great things, and to just be mediocre or take the easy route would be a waste of those talents. Whether it was through tough love or words of pride and encouragement, they instilled in me the zeal to take every risk and reach for the highest achievement possible, because they knew I could do it, which in turn made me believe I could too.