We had the good fortune of connecting with Laurence Jacobs and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Laurence, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
I think this is a constant struggle for anyone who works in the arts. For me, having a work/life balance is everything. Without taking breaks my eyes kind of feel like mush. Of course, we all suffer from screen fatigue, but it really takes a toll on anyone creating images for a living…when you’re scanning through hundreds of visuals per day. And then there’s another side of the balancing act. This one I find much harder: when you go from project to project and then suddenly you get a break. For me, it’s sometimes hard to turn off that part of my brain. Like I get addicted to creating and feeling purpose…that when I have free time I think: What I do now? I’m just going to sit on a bench and look at the sky? A weird guilt starts to creep in. Like something is wrong because I am not physically making something that’s contributing to the world. But then I assure myself: This is okay. Down time is healthy. I can recharge like a normal human being and turn off for a second.
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 think the best art is the one that shocks you and slightly alters your ideology. To be transformed by a single experience is so powerful and I try to invoke the same kind of attitude with my work. But the truth is that it’s taken me a long time to form this perspective. It’s easy to manufacture taste. As an artist, you know what inspires you–it could be movies or songs or photographs. But what do you do with that taste? How do you set yourself apart from others so that you appear original and not derivative? I’ve really battled this my whole career.
What was wonderful about turning 30 is that you could kind of let it all go. I was really lucky in my twenties to have lots of jobs in totally different industries. From working in Hollywood as a director’s assistant, to making documentaries for a non-profit, to directing music videos for a record company…I’m so grateful for these experiences. And that’s exactly what you need as an artist—you need to draw upon as many moments as you can so your stories can feel authentic…like you’ve lived a little. Like your perspective is worth a damn. Only now can I really see the value in this perspective. And I can appreciate having those years behind me.
My work has always been a mix between the surreal and the naturalistic. In 2013, I co-directed a short film called “Life in Text” which follows a guy as he relives old text messages between he and his ex. He literally walks through this virtual world….it was highly ambitious (laughs). Although the iPhone OS is much more advanced now (and so is indie VFX), this film really gave me the confidence to make art instead of being an assistant (and serving someone else’s dreams). In 2018, I had a moonshot idea to pitch a music video for CCR’s legendary song “Have You Ever Seen The Rain”. It’s pretty much this timeless tune and somehow the label trusted me enough to not fuck it up. So we went to Montana and I directed this nostalgic, slice-of-life narrative. It was one of the hardest, most special experiences of my career and the video already passed 100 million views.
Throughout my career, I was really itching to make art that was different. A little more against the grain and unconventional which brings me to my latest project Connie & Sly. Right before the pandemic, I directed an original short that’s unlike anything I’ve ever made. It’s an experimental dance film about two amateur thieves (sisters Connie & Sly) who set off a car alarm & perform a wild, hypnotic dance around the vehicle. Totally wacky…totally absurd. What I loved with this project is that I got to make something that felt a little more like my personality–something a little goofy. Not so self-serious which freed me up creatively. I got to partner with a stellar choreography company, LA-based Whyteberg, as well as composer Bobak Lotfipour who created this beautifully bizarre song from scratch. We’re releasing the film this summer and I couldn’t be more proud.
What I’ve learned throughout my career is that being original actually isn’t hard. It appears hard if you keep scrolling through Instagram stories…comparing yourself to others. Those metrics have always been wack. Just be yourself and realize that you are enough. You don’t ever need more to prove to others you are more. To have that confidence to own your feelings and embrace your personality and roots…for all their strengths and weaknesses…that’s what being original is all about.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Here’s a day in LA if my friend visited me. First, let’s start on the east side and grab a coffee at Dinosaur in Silver Lake (support your local business!). Then, we’re going to hop in the car and cruise through East Hollywood onto Franklin (showing you the legendary UCB), then making our way to Griffith Park. Now that we’re jacked up on caffeine, we’ll hike the Boy Scout trail to the top of the hill. Finally reaching the Observatory we’ll bask in its architectural, planetary brilliance. I’ll point to the area where “Rebel Without a Cause” was filmed, then to that scene in “Bowfinger”. Let’s hope for clear skies, please? After the hike, we’re going to be hungry AF, so we’ll go to Republique and have a breakfast sandwich on their brioche bun. Next stop, a long cruise to the westside. Definitely cranking Fleet Foxes’ SHORE followed by Neil Young’s On The Beach. Gotta get this LA mixtape vibe right. I’ll take you through BH & Westwood (where I grew up) and then we’ll get to Santa Monica where it’ll be riddled with tourists. I’ll pop a hard left onto Main Street and pass by The Victorian where I’ll tell you “that’s where I use to hangout when I was 22!”). Finally, we’ll reach our next destination: my favorite modern delicatessen—Gjusta. Typically, I’m ordering a smoked salmon sandwich w/ everything bagel, but since we already hit breakfast let’s get pizza with an escarole salad and charcuterie plate. To-go bag in hand, we’ll walk to the beach and eat near the water. Chill for a couple hours, maybe catch the sunset? For dinner, we’re going to make it real easy and go to Hopdoddy. Summer night in LA, burger and beer in hand. Then let’s top it off with some mint chip ice cream at Jeni’s or Van Leeuwen.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
This is a shoutout to my parents, Debbie Jacobs and Louis Jacobs, who never dissuaded me to pursue a life in the arts. In this industry, you really need those ‘yes’ people…the cheerleaders and allies who just want you to win. All my life, my parents gave me a clear lane to go after my dream and take huge swings. My dad taught me how to capture the moment and my mom always believed in me…and she inspired me to believe in myself. That was the greatest gift of all. Through infinite moments of doubt, failure, and fear they stuck by me. They never encouraged me to change careers, or “try something else”….they thought I could do this for a living and that was enough. If you’re truly passionate about something, the right people are going to notice. Thank you Mom and Dad for teaching me that.