We had the good fortune of connecting with Mikel Dever-O’Neil and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mikel, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
The most important factor behind my success is the willingness to reach out to others and help out, while also figuring out who is worth helping; in short, building connections through collaboration. There’s this mentality that you need to be some crazy auteur and there’s a lot of sociopaths out there, especially in entertainment. You should be looking for authentic people who you can give your all to — even if that means not being an “auteur” for this specific project. When I was in my teens, I helped out a friend of mine make a video game — and all I did for that friend was clean up her English since it was her second language. After graduating the University of Southern California, my friend had gone on to start her own company and I was able to be hired as a writer for said company because of that work I did back in the day and how hard I worked for her then.
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 knew I wanted to be a filmmaker as far back as when I was twelve years old. It was important to be driven by that goal as early as possible. Thinking long term about what you want to achieve will be that fire in your chest that really pushes you to keep going. If you want to be a director (or really anything on a film set,) it’s important to get good at anything and everything involved. They didn’t offer film courses at the community college in my local area when I was out of high school, so I took up fine art and learned about composition through drawing. That skill was incredibly beneficial later as a writer and a director. I could visualize scenes more easy. An important aspect of what set me apart, even applying to USC, was that I wasn’t *just* a filmmaker. I could also draw and loved doing so. I had hobbies and skills outside of filmmaking that I could apply to the craft and really shape other things I wanted to do in a unique way. Keep an open mind and expose yourself to as much as possible. It’ll pay off to be something like a filmmaker who can draw, or a writer who is a science nerd etc.
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?
In Los Angeles? I assume you mean Los Angeles.
I’m not really a local, I only moved to LA a few years ago and I’m still learning about the city. It’s a mishmash of various cultures and communities.
One of my favorite places to visit is Little Tokyo. I love buying groceries from overseas and soaking in the atmosphere. There’s an amazing bookstore called Kinokuniya, they sell storyboards from various shows and movies. I picked up a few from Studio Ghibli, which I continue to refrence. Anime Expo takes place near there too, which is really fun if you’re into that sort of thing and arrive at the right time.
I was also deeply affected by Santa Monica Pier. Going on the Ferris Wheel is just awe inspiring. Playing at the arcade, going to the edge of the pier… Definitely someplace to take a loved one.
Another place that’s really great in Los Angeles might be Monty’s Burger. I’m a vegan myself, and it’s a small joint that sells vegan Burgers, but they’re 10/10. I’ve taken a lot of non vegan friends there and it’s just a great place to get lunch at. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
VisuStella LLC is a group I’d like to give thanks to. They’re the company that hired me out of school. I’d also like to give a shout of to Joy Wang, a close friend who helped me throughout school. Without her, I wouldn’t have been able to make as many projects as I did.
These were all taken by Mikel and Delwyn Dever-O’Neil and feature various members from filmset we were a part of.