We had the good fortune of connecting with Todd Sandler and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Todd, how do you think about risk?
I think about risk as an essential part of growing. Without it, you can’t expect anything more than just “status quo”. As someone who gets bored of routine quite easily, I’m always assessing what risk needs to be taken in order to keep my own journey fruitful. I can’t think of a single job where I didn’t feel like it was an all or nothing, zero sum game. Do I take it on or do I shy away from it? I wouldn’t have been afforded nearly any of the opportunities I’ve been so grateful to experience without trusting my instinct and taking the leap of faith that it would all turn out for the better in the end.
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.
There’s no question we are living in challenging times. It’s been incredibly difficult to find creative inspiration amongst the uncertainty of everything going on right now. I’m very proud of a project I created last year at the start of the lockdown called The Mars Two Comedic Collective. In short, I called upon creatives from all artistic backgrounds to submit a 2-min audition video stating why they would be the perfect candidate for the first colony on Mars. These submissions were then curated and released on an Instagram page. It was a great opportunity for artists (from all over the world, mind you) to collectively flex their creative muscles, all while constrained under the same parameters. It was challenging and incredibly exhausting to create, but it was so worth the effort. Whatever challenges each person was facing, this project allowed 2min of respite a day for some much needed laughter. After the death of George Floyd, however, I put the project on hold to keep the digital space open for more urgent voices, dialogues and stories to be shared by others. Figuring out what my work means in the context of my surroundings is quite important to me. I don’t have all the answers and I’m still exploring, but I do know this. To me, without meaning, without context, it all seems pointless. Telling stories that help inform our own experiences, to help us become better people is at the core of what I want to be doing.
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.
I love exploring new pockets of the city under the guise of finding great coffee shops (a plus if they roast themselves). From Good People Coffee in West LA to Primo Passo in Santa Monica to Rocketship Coffee in West Hollywood to Kumquat in Highland Park. The atmosphere is always inviting and relaxed which is totally my speed. Some of my favorite spots didn’t survive the lockdown but I am confident they will land on their feet at some other point. 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 would like to shout out the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville, NY. Its a non-profit film/education center that I was involved with for 10 years after college. It was there that the Executive Director, Stephen Apkon, took me under his wing. He encouraged, supported and mentored all of my endeavors. Big shout out to him. It was also through the JBFC that I reconnected with filmmaker Robert Celestino, who took a giant risk and hired me to be his editor on my first feature film. He taught me so much about story and to always trust my instinct, what was in my gut, over anything else. Thank you, Bob. Lastly, I owe a shoutout to Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy. Fun story which I’d be happy to share another time. My experience working for them at the beginning of my career opened the doors to so many wonderful opportunities. I thank them for taking the risk and hiring me to work on their film, War Horse.