What’s the most creative advertising idea you’ve seen recently? 

Spencer: WhatsApp's One. Over my time in the industry, the thing that keeps me excited is the possibility of always pushing the definition of what an ad is or should be. It’s always refreshing to see a piece of advertising that goes beyond a traditional 30- or 60-second commercial, even more so from one of the biggest brands in the world. 

I love how this film captures the lifespan of a relationship in just a few minutes in such a relatable way and is still able to be playful and fresh in the visual craft techniques. It’s always tough to have a short branded film and integrate the brand in a way that doesn’t feel forced. This one achieves that in a very elegant way and still leaves me emotional and feeling something; a true sign of a good ad in my opinion.

WhatsApp – ONE

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What website(s) do you use most regularly?

Mark: I am hopelessly addicted to the NYT Crossword, so I must visit that site every day. Now I’m a font of useless knowledge, in case you ever need to know the difference between an EPEE and a SNEE. I also used some pandemic downtime to start constructing crossword puzzles, which is incredibly difficult. But the website Crosshare makes it a little easier for the extreme amateur like me.

What’s the most recent piece of tech that you’ve bought?

Spencer: I recently got a Lecia Q2 camera, for scouting and on set photos. I’ve been a diehard 35mm film person for most of my career but all of my vintage cameras kept breaking and I finally splurged on the Leica digital camera that I had my eye on for years. The Leica lens and image processing of the Q2 is incredible, and the feeling of it in my hands still gives each image I capture a sense of importance. I’m sure I’ll fall back in love with film again but right now this is the camera for me.

What product could you not live without? 

Mark: Biggest game-changer for me, as a Brooklynite, was getting a car last year. I still have a deep affection for public transit, biking and especially walking. But now, with my mighty little Subaru, I can take the dog hiking upstate in the afternoon and be back to play ice hockey in Queens at night. It changed my relationship to the city in a really sweet and positive way. 

What’s the best film you’ve seen over the last year?

Mark: I’ll stick to films that came out in the last year, otherwise it would be too hard. One film that I think about a lot is Titane, Julia Ducournau’s neon chrome, body horror fever dream. It’s David Cronenberg meets Gaspar Noe with a sneakily affecting human story at the core.

What film do you think everyone should have seen?

Spencer: Close-Up, by Abbas Kiarostami. I was lucky enough to be selected to be in a master class workshop with Abbas Kiarostami when I was a student at Hunter College in 2007 and, at that time, Close-Up was already one of my favourite films. It blurs the lines between documentary and fiction in a way that really questions the nature of cinema and what it means to want to be a filmmaker. 

It’s easy these days to get caught up in what makes a 'good' film, with critics’ reviews, marketing budgets and audience ratings, but this film (along with Kiaorostami’s philosophy of filmmaking) reminds me that the only thing that matters should be the personal feeling you get when the credits come up. I’ll always remember these words he spoke to us through his translator on the first day of the workshop: “It’s only bad films that everyone leaves the cinema with the same feeling. When the critics and audience start disagreeing with each other, the writer breathes a sigh of relief.”

What’s your preferred social media platform?

Spencer: I have such a love/hate relationship with social media, it’s concerning. I’ve been an Instagram stan ever since it launched. I’m such a visual person and it's such a powerful tool for discovery, portfolio curation and networking. We’ve met almost all of the directors we represent at Curfew through Instagram and it’s been instrumental in cultivating and growing our community. 

On the other hand I believe social media’s affect on mental health, especially in the fleeting artificial feelings likes and followers create, can be seriously detrimental. I try to take breaks where I delete the app a few times a year and I highly encourage everyone to do this as a reminder to ground yourself in tangible reality. 

What’s your favourite TV show? 

Spencer: Halt and Catch Fire; a show about the early days of computers and the internet as much as it is about failure, this underrated show really struck a chord with me when I first discovered it. It flew under the radar when it was airing and lasted four seasons, a perfect length in my opinion, unlike a lot of shows that overstay their welcome and struggle as time goes on.

What’s your favourite podcast?

MarkWind of Change. Was the 1990 rock ballad Wind of Change, by Scorpions, written by the CIA to exert soft power over former Soviet states at the end of the Cold War? Seems likely! This incredibly fun podcast explores the possibility, while also digging into various other US military intelligence shenanigans from the 20th century. 

What show/exhibition has most inspired you recently?

Mark: I find myself returning again and again to the Dutch Masters collection at the Met. I stop by whenever I need inspiration or want to discover something new about the interplay of light, darkness, and colour. Every work there has something new to teach me. I could stare at Margareta Haverman’s A Vase of Flowers all day.

If you could only listen to one music artist from now on, who would it be?

Spencer: So hard! I’m just going to have to go with my gut reaction here, and it would have to be David Bowie. His discography is so diverse and eclectic that I could find a song for every mood. His crooning voice, expert melodies, and witty lyrics never fail. I don’t think I could ever get bored of Bowie. Highlights would be Heroes, Modern Love, and Oh! You Pretty Things.

If there was one thing you could change about the advertising industry, what would it be?

Mark: One thing that always irks me about the ad world, especially in the US, is the siloing of directors. My favourite filmmakers have excelled by dancing around different genres and experimenting with the form. Martin de Thurah, Mike Mills, Aoife McArdle. Obviously they are geniuses and put in immense work to get to the stage they’re at, but it’s disheartening to know a young director probably won’t be considered if they don’t have the exact thing the board calls for. “Sorry, I don’t see twin brunettes eating cake in the rain, I don’t think she can pull it off.”

Who or what has most influenced your career? 

Mark: The Director’s Series DVDs (Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry, Chris Cunningham) that came out when I was just starting college. I was not one of those kids who grew up making VHS tapes and always knew they wanted to work in film. I grew up playing sports in Upstate NY, and never really dreamed of a career doing anything artistic. These DVDs opened up my eyes to how special short-form film could be, and led me to sign up for an Experimental Video class that set me on the course to today.

Tell us one thing about yourself that most people won’t know.

Spencer: I’m moderate protan colourblind - a type of red/green colorblindness.

Mark: I cry watching Coco on airplanes.