We had the good fortune of connecting with Gabrielle Paciorek and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Gabrielle, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I’m a director and photographer in commercial production, and there’s a kind of process or protocol for that. Companies hire ad agencies to come up with creative ideas and agencies hire vendors, like production companies, to execute that creative. I’d spent a lot of time trying to get on the radar at production companies, which is no small feat when you have connections. It’s definitely harder when you don’t. When I finally got meetings at production companies, I could see people not getting what I had to offer. I had been Director/DP for almost 10 years, with professional experience in VFX and graphic design. I have four Emmys. I used to be a professional storyboard artist. I could write and design my own decks and treatments for pitching. And as much as I hate to admit that I’m good with people because I’m an introvert and socializing can be exhausting, I’m good with people. I can clearly communicate my thoughts, which is the one thing a director has to be able to do well. You can always hire people to do the rest. But I kept getting asked, “Do you have any agency contacts”? That’s all that seemed to matter. Not my work. Not my personality. Not my potential. And I’d think to myself, “If I had agency contacts, I wouldn’t be asking you for a job. I’d have my own production company and I’d be pitching against you.” Things have changed a lot in the industry in the past 20 years I think, at least for everyone on smaller to mid-budget jobs. The advice I was getting from industry veterans just wasn’t lining up with what I was experiencing personally. I have relationships with other production companies and we help each other out. If a production is too big for me, or it’s a shoot based outside of LA, I can hand it off to another production company, but still be the director. That might sound weird to people who’ve been around for awhile. Things are definitely more choose your own adventure right now. I’m both a director with a production company and a gun for hire for other production companies. Finally, I realized I just need a few people who like my work to champion me. I think once it sank in that no, I don’t need everyone to love my work and hire me to make a living, a clear path formed for me.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I used to have a romanticized view of advertising. That view has definitely shifted over the years, but I like to think of it as just another iteration of commercial art. Just because a piece is commissioned or paid for doesn’t mean it’s not art. I’m pretty sure Michelangelo Buonarroti didn’t paint the Sistine Chapel for free, although he had trouble getting paid by clients, which you know, same. Historically a lot of artwork was commissioned by the church or rich families to increase their standing with the public. That’s a pretty basic definition of advertising, marketing, and PR. Sure most advertising is trash and only good for a bathroom break. But the potential for something more is tantalizing and I think that’s why creatives are attracted to the industry. If more companies saw it as a chance to create art, the public wouldn’t see advertising as such an intrusive eyesore. Ironically, when I started creating art purely for myself is when I started getting calls. I was just playing around – doing what made me happy, what I was curious about, experimenting with different techniques and technology – and sharing it. But people saw the value in that.
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.
It feels like it’s been years since I went out, but here goes. Since I live in San Pedro, we’d start with some local fare. We’d pour one out for Pappy’s Seafood which I used to visit regularly to get a beer and fish and chips, but I think closed due to the pandemic. We’d visit the Korean Friendship Bell and drive around to see if we could spot some peacocks and peahens that like to roam the neighborhood. If it’s the fourth of July, another drive around the neighborhood to see everyone’s fireworks is a must. It’s wild. We’d definitely hit all the museums from LACMA to the Gettys. Go up to Silverlake for a meal at Mh Zh and over to West Hollywood for some Gracias Madre grub. Any food truck will also be up for grabs. A bonfire at Dockweiler State Beach is a must, and would probably include a day and night at the beach at the RV park right there. If it’s the summer, then we’re definitely braving the crowds at the Hollywood Bowl to see a movie with a live orchestra, and another movie night at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Hiking around the Paramount Ranch for sure. Another hike in Malibu, specifically the trail next Malibu Seafood (on the PCH) is gonna happen. I think they share a parking lot. It’s not too well known, but at the end you get to eat some seafood. Also the Malibu RV Park is right there too so you can say you stayed in Malibu. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to thank the CDDP (Commercial Directors Diversity Program). It’s a great program for up and coming commercial directors from diverse backgrounds. I was pretty surprised that I got into the program when I applied. I had been directing a few things quietly and it gave me the confidence boost I needed to declare myself a director openly. Sometimes you just need some validation after years of shouting into the darkness.
Instagram: @paciorek, @pacioreksketchbook
Youtube: (For tutorials) https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrOa2LMX6kGIANS2z3Q2BvA
Gabrielle Paciorek, Nardeep Khurmi