We had the good fortune of connecting with Shaun Collings and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shaun, how do you think about risk?
Risk has been a huge part of my career and continues to be. It’s played a pivotal role in many stages of my life and I’m one that tends to embrace the unknown and use it as energy for the next chapter. I originally set out on a very safe path when I started college, but something inside me knew I would never be happy unless I set after a more artful career path. Once I jumped into design and animation I was still unsure where it would take me or even if I could have a long career. Coming from a small town in Texas, my first big risk was to move to Los Angeles, a place I have no knowledge of, connections, or friends. It was incredibly intimidating to say the least. During my first year in LA, I worked endlessly to prove myself and hold up next to all the other talented artists. Despite the discomfort, lack of resources, and insecurities, I worked myself into overdrive mode to learn everything I could know about the industry in order to break through. Now that I’m entering a new chapter being a commercial director and also a new dad the risks have gone up much higher than before, however that has only made me more passionate about my goals. For better or worse I think I’m one of those troubled individuals who enjoys these stressful jumps in life.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I currently focus on live-action commercials that often incorporate design/vfx. I think coming up from design and animation really helps set me apart from other directors. I tend to do a ton of prep work even pre-vising in 3d the full shoot to make sure the timings and edit will all work how I see it. It’s a joy to be able to bring my past work into my current process. I’m very proud of many of my past graphics projects earning a number of awards, but lately I’m just exctied to explore any new projects that have an ingredient to them that I’ve never tackled. The joy of the unknown.
There was definitely a long road to get here. I first started in engineering before jumping to design and animation. Once I graduated I first started at a small motion shop. It was a very new industry and I had to learn a ton to compete with all the amazing artists in LA. Once I really started freelancing I started hitting my stride. However, the challenge really came when I wanted to pursue live action. I quickly learned there are a ton of individuals wanting to do the same thing. I shadow directors and got a few small hits, but it was right when I was about to give up the studio I was at had a few key members join the team and slowly started getting put up for more pitches. The early days were tough with very difficult budgets and schedules, but you have to just fight for every detail and try to put all of the budget in the shot. The biggest lesson I learned is you can’t wait for others to hand it to you. You have to just push to make work. You have to fight on every pitch, Find ways to stand out, always push yourself to do a little more than the others.
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?
Well this is a great question now that we’re finally opening up and being able to enjoy LA again. So many great spots to visit. I always love sneaking out to the Malibu pier and having a brunch at Malibu Farms. Then a trip to LA wouldn’t be complete without tacos, maybe a tad fancy at Guerrilla Tacos downtown. And I always like to sneak over to K-Town for a few treats at Dan Sung Sa. For events I’m a big fan of the Dodgers and the LAFC. Never a bad seat at LAFC. Then a few concerts at the Hollywood Bowl and The Greek. So many places to visit. This would be a fun week to plan out. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Oh boy. There are so many people that helped get me here today. I first have to credit my wife, Anne, for being my true supporter. She’s seen the good and the bad and has kept me pushing forward. My first big mentor in college was Rick Griffith who was a huge help in gaining confidence and seeing how to creatively breakthrough. When I moved over to live action Geno Imbriale was a true champion on pushing to make the best creative I could. I could go on and on, but those are the few key people that played a pivotal role in my path forward.
Vincent Peone, Mark Glaser, Curtis Doss