Musicbed Podcast #003 with Director Jared Malik Royal

In episode #003 of the Musicbed Podcast, Director Jared Malik Royal shares the value of staying present in an age of distractions.


Director Jared Malik Royal has worked for brands like Hypebeast, Mercedes-Benz, and Levi’s. He’s directed videos and teasers for artists Samm Henshaw, Daniel Caesar, Bryan Senti, and more.

In episode #003 of the Musicbed Podcast, Jared shares the value of staying present in an age of distractions. Topics include the real-life hope found in sci-fi world-building, the meaningful differences between art and content, and why creatives might be thinking the wrong way about AI.

Show Notes

Jared Malik Royal —

Alien —

The Fifth Element —

Blade —

Heal —

DALL·E 2 —

Musicbed Podcast —

Jared’s Musicbed Playlist

Looking for musical inspiration to write your next treatment? Need a song that brings emotion to your edit? Take a few minutes to listen to this playlist, personally curated by Jared himself.

Get Jared’s full playlist on Musicbed

Episode #003 Transcript

Jared: We’re off schedule by, like, 30 minutes, and—it’s all gonna fall apart. And then you just can look at them after you’ve been, like, “I just ran up a mountain carrying a log on my back being chased by wolves.”

Christian: Where’d you grow up? 

Jared: That’s an interesting question because I don’t know if I have. 

Christian: How old are you? 

Jared: I’m 28.

Christian: Okay, you’re getting there?

Jared: Yeah, it dawned on me this year, I have to do everything I’ve ever said I was going to do or else I’m going to evaporate into dust at 30.

Christian: Do you feel 30? Kind of like an impending doom or something?

Jared: It’s something like that. It’s motivation. If anything, I think what that marks for me is a 10 year mark, of being invested in making things as a career, as a passion, as my life path. So, that’s what I’m excited about. How can I mark that as a moment that shows me I’ve really done the work.

Christian: Right. Do you feel like you’ve surpassed anything? Or feel like you’re still sort of about to hit those goals or anything?

Jared: So the reason it stresses me is because I feel like I haven’t done anything.

Christian: Yeah. Where did you think you’re gonna be? 

Jared: Exactly where I’m at. 

Christian: Exactly, so what are you worried about?

Jared: You know, I just want to make sure I use the most of my momentum, the most of what I’ve been given. I don’t want to squander any kind of opportunity. Or seeds of things that are there, you know? You ever talk to your friends, and you’re like, “I’m going to do this thing. I’m going to do this thing,” and they’re like, “Okay. All right.” And then when you actually do it you’re like, “See? I told y’all.” Hold myself accountable.

Christian: Did you know you always wanted to do this?

Jared: You know, looking back in hindsight, it’s, like, obviously, yeah. It’s like when you’re six years old, and you’re watching Alien on VHS on repeat, you’re watching Aliens, you’re watching Alien 3, you’re like, Interesting. I love these color palettes that are consistent. Let me draw pictures of what I would see this world looking like. 

And you know, wanting to create sounds and music and playing on a little keyboard and creating all these stories with action figures. It’s like, alright, maybe this is something that combines all those things. But what I really love about filmmaking is it’s this holistic practice of everything that makes up who you are is now able to find a moment. Like, how you feel about how life. Moving, pacing. How you feel about emotional connection, how you feel about language.

Christian: I feel like the music analogy is such a good analogy to use for filmmaking, because I’ve played drums for most of my life, and I love the idea that two drummers can play the same beat and it’s two different things. You have to kind of find your voice in the same way that you had to find your voice for filmmaking. You know what I mean? Do you feel like you’ve tapped into your voice? Do you think you see it clearly now? Or are you still sort of evolving in some way?

Jared: Yeah, I think it’s constantly evolving. If we’re living right, if we’re allowing ourselves to be childlike, if we’re allowing ourselves to not grow up, and we’re constantly learning. So that’s what I feel like I’m doing right now, I’m trying to learn as much as possible. So that voice becomes clearer. 

Christian: What does that look like, though? Like, practically? How do you find yourself learning?

Jared: Now we’re getting deep!  Now we’re getting into some ‘philosophy of life’ type stuff. Yeah, I think some things that really stand out to me in how I see my own life story, and how I see the world,  is finding light within darkness. I think we’re surrounded by a lot of negative things that are constantly vying for our attention, which take us away from, you know—what we were brought here to do? 

So that’s what I try to find within these visual motifs in my work, like a duality between. Something might feel eerie, it might feel dark, it might not feel like an actual real thing. It might feel like we’re in another world, but then it brings you to something that’s more aligned with your heart. It’s something that’s bright. So, I don’t know how to go deeper into that. But that’s how I try to think about my work as art and not just my work as a commodity.

Christian: I know, I totally feel what you’re saying, where you feel like a lot of your technique and what you’re interested in should come from your personal sort of journey and stuff. But do you study in any other way? Do you read? Do you watch certain things to get you inspired or anything?

Jared: Yeah. When it comes to filmmaking in particular, I think what I’m most inspired by right now is my friends. Which I think sometimes we’re afraid to say, because people are, like, “Oh, no, you don’t want to be like everybody else. You don’t want to fall into this thing where you’re just you’re morphing.” But they’re my friends for a reason, it’s because we have these similar beliefs and views of the world. 

And I think seeing the stuff that they’re doing is like being a part of a moment. It’s about being a part of a movement. It’s like being a part of a time. Because I look up to people that are much bigger filmmakers, and throughout the whole history of filmmaking, it’s like these few groups of guys that all had these crazy ideas and were, like, “Oh, you’re doing that? Well, I’m going to do this.” And that’s what pushed our culture forward. So, I don’t know if we’re on here naming names, but Leo Aguirre, for example, one of my best friends—

Christian: We’re talking to Leo tomorrow. So funny. 

Jared: Peace, Leo. I think you’re great. Yeah, I don’t know, I don’t want to just lift off names, but that’s somebody that I started making stuff with. You know, we came together—

Christian: In Texas, right?

Jared: Yeah. As young kids. Like I mentioned, it’s almost 10 years into this, that’s someone I knew from the jump.

Christian: Yeah. I remember I met Leo in Austin, and I met you and Austin as well. How long ago was that? It was on two separate occasions, but I think it was maybe five years ago. We were just doing a vodka commercial or something, and you were, like, “Yeah, I’m gonna come.” And you just hung out, dude. It was so cool. Do you do that a lot? Like, do you try to get on sets? Are you kind of jaded by it at all at this point?

Jared: No, ’cause it’s fun. I don’t want to lose the fun of it. And it’s all kind of ridiculous sometimes. Like, this can’t be real, you know, we just show up and we’re, like, “Let’s do that. Move this thing here.” So I try to keep the play aspect of it. I don’t always want to have a stiff, sadder environment. So I like to invite my friends as well.

Christian: That’s cool. My dad always used to tell me you are who your friends are?

Jared: Yeah. 

Christian: Do you think that’s true?

Jared: What is a friend? What does that mean?

Christian: Or maybe you are who you surround yourself with perhaps? 

Jared: Yeah, yeah. I think that extends beyond just people. I think you definitely are what you surround yourself with.

Christian: I like that you said it’s beyond people. Yeah. Like, it’s like everything. You know, what do you consume on a day-to-day basis? Is it like six hours of TikTok or something? You know? Or is it six hours of something meaningful, whether it’s conversations or a podcast, giving you some kind of information or something?

Jared: Right now I like to consume discomfort. I’m trying to find the beauty in the ugly. So, can’t find the beauty in the ugly if you’re not really getting into it. And something that I believe allows me to be the best version of myself is being physically active. So I like to train with a boxing coach. And I’m starting the day off immediately with, like, okay, I gotta be on high alert and ready for anything that comes my way.”

Christian: You kind of piss me off sometimes, too, because I see you doing some modeling stuff every once in a while. 

Jared: Yeah. 

Christian: And I’m like, that’s pretty unfair, bro. You know what I’m saying? I’m just saying, people who are, like, stacked in life—and I hope that you don’t take this the wrong way—but, like, a super-talented filmmaker, who can jump in front of the camera and just look sick as well. You know? But I know that you work hard at that too. I’m also not trying to be ogling your body, but you work hard at what you look like as well and keep fit and whatever. And you can do both. And that kind of pisses me off. 

Jared: Well, uh…

Christian: I hope that doesn’t come off as aggressive.

Jared: Yeah, I think that’s where it’s coming from with me as well. It’s like, I don’t want to look at my life and think that I’m not living up to what I’m capable of. So that’s what keeps me going, I don’t ever want to slack off. I don’t want to let go of anything.

Christian: Well, it’s also, like, I mean, probably just the last month or so, I started getting into lifting some weights, like putting my body—I’ve always run pretty frequently, but there’s such a difference from just putting your body under some pretty good stress. 

Jared: You know why? 

Christian: Psychologically, you mean? 

Jared: Yeah, because when you’re on set, and somebody comes to you, they’re, like, “Oh my God, such and such doesn’t have the right color shirt, and the whole thing is off schedule by 30 minutes, and it’s all gonna fall apart. And then you just can look at them and say, “I just ran up a mountain carrying a log on my back being chased by wolves. It’s going to be okay.” 

Christian: We’re gonna make it, yeah.

Jared: You know, so you’ve got to put yourself through, I think, real challenges, so you’re able to be more present when you’re on set. 

Christian: So true, dude. What’s the boxing been like? Did you grow up watching boxing? Were you fascinated with combat sports or anything?

Jared: A little bit. It was something that, you know, I think seems scary. 

Christian: Are you sparring and stuff?

Jared: I’m getting there. It’s close. It’s a conflict of interest because, like, I talked about, I’m trying to use my face. But yeah, sparring, that’s been fun, and running from things that are holding me with fear. When I was younger, it was harder to believe that I could create things and make that my life. You know, I was lucky to have some people who really encouraged me and pushed me and were like, hey, man, you can really do this.

And I’m, like, I don’t see examples of that. So I don’t really believe you. And now we’re in a world where like, pick this up. There’s an example of it, you know. You can find a community a lot easier. 

That’s what I really have loved about FilmSupply and Musicbed. I think what they’ve been able to do is connect artists together. I talk about friends being the building blocks of inspiration and growth. Yeah, they’ve done that from the jump. So, I love that.

Christian: Can you look 10 years down the road? You sort of look in blocks of time, like, when you’re 30, have you already sort of set 30 to 40? Do you see some of those goals at this point? 

Jared: You know, if you don’t have a plan, you plan to fail. Yeah, absolutely. I have my ideas. But you know, there’s my plan, and there’s God’s plan. So who knows? What I would really love to do is reach a point in commercials, for example, to where I know I’ve made enough of a difference that there are people that are younger than me that can look at my work and not only know my voice, but be inspired by it. Just like I’ve been inspired to get involved in this as well.

I don’t think I’ve been able to really leave that kind of mark yet. And why I say that about commercials is just because that’s everywhere. That’s something that is gonna constantly be consumed. And it’s these subliminal things that get in your head. You know, I think that’s the best avenue for me to get ideas out there and really immerse myself in the industry of creativity.

Jared: What’s your treatment process right now? Do you have a routine? I know it’s always different based on the brief and whatever, but have you found yourself having some routines that you have around treatments?

Jared: Yeah, right now I’m trying to think of treatments as a way for me to get better at telling stories. So when I eventually move beyond the commercial world and more into a longer-form kind of world, I already have a system and a way of thinking. So, I work with some of the same writers. I work with some of the same designers, and I work with some of the same image pullers now, whereas, when I first started, it was, like, pulling from all these different people every single time. Like, who’s available? 

And now I’m, like, I’m not doing this unless I’m doing it a specific way. And, yeah, I started off making treatments for other directors. So that gave me a lot of insight into like, alright, what wins? What feels good? Design aesthetics?

Christian: Can you dive into that a little bit without giving away too much of the sauce? You know, what are some things that a younger filmmaker who is starting out writing treatments, or having to write treatments for something regional, or even something national? What are some of the things that they should pay attention to? 

Jared: It depends what it’s for. You know, I would think about your audience first. You know, who’s consuming this? And what’s the most important thing that I need to convey to them? But I would always think back to the fundamentals. You know, I talk about how older filmmakers of past generations were pushing each other as friends. There are these things that are consistent over time, and the one thing that’s consistent about filmmaking over time is you have to write. 

And I would always start there, with understanding what you are trying to say. Because before you even look at a picture, before you look at a feeling or—there’s this thing now, I call it vibe politics. It’s like, things are more about a mood than they are substance. So start with the writing, know what you’re going to say, and then from there you’re able to have a clear map of what the images are that we want to bring into this.

And what did those images say about how this story arcs? Are we starting bright? Are we starting dark and ending light? You know, so having this cohesion of colors, having a cohesion of textures. I think sometimes I see treatments that are a bit too vague. And, you know, I think what I appreciate about a filmmaker is making a decision to say a certain thing or be a certain way. So with the treatments, just stand on who you are. It’s like, no, this whole thing is going to be black and white, high contrast. I’m not going to throw you like, alright, it could be this, could be this, could be this. Like, no, that’s it, you know?

Christian: Because there’s always a point when you’re writing a treatment that you’re like—is this too much? And I feel like that’s the moment when you should probably double down on something. Like you said, black and white, high contrast. Either they’re gonna love it, or they’re gonna hate it. And if they love it, then I get to do something that I want to do. But if you go in there and you’re just compromising, you could probably get into a place where you’re, like, do I even want to make this anymore? This is vanilla. Sometimes I feel like I win a treatment, and I have this moment when I win it, that I’m, like, I don’t want to do this. Because it’s so much work to win that thing. Do you ever feel like that?

Jared: I feel like from that point forward it’s my job to make sure that everybody else around me is wanting to give their best.

Christian: What are some of those things that you feel like get in the way sometimes?

Jared: We talked about fear earlier. For example, if a client is afraid of a certain kind of shot that you’re going to do, because you didn’t explain to them well enough, the technicalities of it, and how it might actually be something that’s so simple, or you’re not able to break it down into a language that they can understand, then that’s on you, you know? So I’ve tried to distinguish between  what’s on me—that I can control to help—and what’s beyond that? Because sometimes there are just things that also can change a project that you don’t have control over.

Christian: So, getting to film treatments, how deep do you get on things like—we’re gonna use Steadicam versus something else? Do you go that deep?

Jared: I do on certain things that require that kind of technicality. Sometimes people are wanting to understand more about a story. So it goes back to the audience. So if I have a first call with somebody, and we’re already talking about camera techniques, I’m, like, alright, maybe you get this. Versus someone asking me a question that might be less informed about the process of actually creating it in production.

Christian: Sometimes, especially on a treatment call or something, it’s always one person that throws out something that I didn’t think about. Do you have those moments where you gotta be on your feet a little bit? How do you react to those moments?

Jared: I’m just honest. I think that’s the best thing. Yeah, I’m like, I have not thought about that. Because I think people can feel it when you’re not being true. 

Christian: Where you’re just BSing.

Jared: Yeah, yeah. And that is going to create an environment of distrust. And that’s what leads to the fear and the whole house of cards falling down.

Christian: Yeah. Do you know what kind of movies you want to make? Have you thought that far?

Jared: I have. Yeah. It’s interesting, because, you know, I talked earlier about the things that inspired me as a kid, and how that now has shaped this path of becoming filmmaker, creator, and artist. Because it hasn’t changed. It hasn’t gone anywhere, hasn’t gone away. And some of the things that inspired me most are what still inspire me today that I see being made. So I’d love to make sci-fi epics. Like, big worlds.

Christian: What was the movie that turned you on to that when you were coming up. Alien, obviously.

Jared: Fifth Element

Christian: I love that this is your genre. I would not have suspected that at all. 

Jared: Really? Yeah, I would start there. Doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s still super-beautiful. Still super-considered with all the decisions. Yeah, I used to watch that. Maybe Blade? That’s a fun one, too. But both of those are worlds that are, like,  everyone wears leather for some reason, I don’t know why. It’s just, it is that way. 

But yeah, what also really inspires me is these things that are in these bigger worlds, but center back to these very human kind of connections. That’s what I love about those kinds of films. It’s considering this as an art form and not as content. I think why it’s important that we make things that are considered art first is because that’s what moves the hearts of people. That’s what creates change.

And I think we can all agree that we want the world to be the best version of itself, right? I keep saying that over and over again. To do that we have to make sure that we’re creating, that we’re inspiring people to want to do that. Because if we make things and we’re complacent, and we’re cutting corners, I’m like, alright, well, we’ll spoon feed people that everything’s gonna be okay without them stepping up to the plate. Without us showing a mirror of, like, hey, here’s society, and here’s the world right now. And it might not feel great, but here’s something that you can do to change that. Or, here’s where we’ve come from and where we’re going.

That’s why I like science fiction. Because it allows you to create this world that you feel safe in because that’s not real. And then you put in, you know, some commentary of the moment of your heart that is true, that’s happening right now or needs to happen and it infiltrates.

Christian: You feel like consistency is important? Even in commercial stuff, too. Do you have—and you don’t have to answer specifically if you don’t want to—but do you have a ratio of things that you show versus things that you don’t show? Be honest.

Jared: I do more than just commercials. I do more than just filmmaking. So I think there’s a ratio of a lot of things that I do that aren’t seen. But when it comes to work in particular, I couldn’t tell you, but the things that I do show I know immediately when I start the project that I’m like—

Christian: This isn’t a banger.

Jared: Yeah. There’s always a moment where I’m, like, oh, yeah, I don’t actually even care about making money from this. Because I think sometimes that can lead people astray. It’s, like, this just needs to happen.

Christian: Is there a common denominator between those kinds of projects that you’ve found?

Jared: They’re usually with groups of people that want to make something no matter what. When I’m working on things where it’s, okay, we just have to do this for whatever entity is throwing us into the fire right now, it’s not so great. But what I really do love about these passion projects—they’re not always passion projects, it’s passionate people involved in projects—is that carries through the whole process. 

We’re going to do pre-production right. We’re going to figure out what we want to make. We’re gonna get to know each other and understand how each other works so we can do this effectively. And, oh, we shot it now. We did it. Let’s keep that same energy through this whole thing, down to the last frame. And that’s how you make something that’s truly worth it.

Christian: Are director’s cuts a big thing for you? Do you edit yourself?

Jared: I can, I do. I try not to even have a computer around me too often. Because like I said, I’m trying to be more present and live life, and I think my task as a director is to make sure I’m able to delegate and work with people. And people are here, people aren’t there. So that’s one thing. But I do love edits, and I have a very particular idea with editing. So I like to sit in with editors.

Christian: Can you analyze your work and identify some turning points in your career? After you’ve made certain work? What are some of those pieces to you that you feel like things started to change after you made those things?

Jared: I try my best to just keep one foot in front of me. To keep going forward and not get too caught up in any of these outside opinions. But, yeah, there was one project in particular that was just this moment in time where enough people were paying attention to that subject matter. And, you know, the kind of thing that it was trying to say, it was like a magnifying glass on my work. It’s not really everything I want to say or who I am, and it was also something that I came together with somebody else to create and help execute for them. 

So I think sometimes it’s interesting that we’ll make things for ourselves that we’re like, this is it. This is the one. And the world is like, y’all hear something? But then there’s other things where we’re, like, okay, l don’t know, we’ll see. Let’s just roll the dice here. And now suddenly that’s the thing people are looking at you as. It just became a piece where people were asking me to recreate that all the time. And I was like, that’s not my voice. That’s not all of me. That’s like a part of me.

Christian: Was it people commercially trying to get you to recreate that?

Jared: Yeah. Yeah. Especially that.

Christian: And you’re sitting there, like, I kind of want to get away from that, because I want to do these other things. That can be frustrating.

Jared: Yeah, I think it’s our job to direct our life, direct our presentation. You know. So I’ve tried my best to be very specific with what I share out of the work that I do. So it’s not always like I’m doing all this work and it’s not good, and I don’t want to share it because of that.

Christian: Yeah I totally feel you. Because I was doing so much doc work early on. And inevitably just started doing doc commercial work, and more, like, real people. And I’m sitting there going, I want to do narrative. I want to write stuff, I want to create scenes, you know what I mean? It was very frustrating. And I got to a point where I was, like, I’m gonna stop taking doc work completely. If it’s doc oriented, I’m just not going to do it. But sometimes you gotta do that, man, and create passion projects that represent where you want to be, you know? Are you doing passion projects a lot? Do you try to have things that you’re mustering up at all times?

Jared: All the time. Yeah, I think it’s really necessary, and it makes me sad to see that sometimes we can lose that. By getting so caught up in this next carrot that’s in front of us, you know? So yeah, that’s what really sustains me and allows me to keep going in doing this. Because getting burned out on being spread so thin isn’t going to help that work. That’s the work that you’re gonna look back on at the end of your life and be like, okay, I left something here that mattered. And that’s how I’m trying to think about all of this. So, yeah, there are some things right now that I’m working on that I’m really excited about. I don’t know how much I can talk about here.

Christian: Is there a passion project that you have done already that’s out that you would want to talk about?

Jared: Sure. Yeah. I just put out something on my Instagram. Actually, I wasn’t actually supposed to share it on Instagram. It was part of the thing that only shows—

Christian: You signed some NDA?

Jared: Maybe they’ll see this. I’m sorry. But yeah, so it was this piece where it’s a perfect storm. It’s, like, hey, we want you to choose something you’re kind of interested in already, do it however you want. Here’s just enough money to make something cool. If you want.

Christian: Perfect storm, for sure. 

Jared: Yeah. I was like, okay, cool. Like, work with whoever you want to work with. So at that moment, something that had really been inspiring me was, like, understanding different levels of consciousness and understanding. Like, what is reality? What is all of this stuff that we’re here interacting with? And I wanted to explore that deeper. 

There’s this form of therapy for people’s skin, where they introduce different wavelengths of light that can heal certain ailments, or, you know, change different composition and that sort of thing. So okay, how do we show this? Because this is connecting one part of this big esoteric idea and something that’s practical that you can actually go do. 

So, yeah, I was able to create all these wild, different textures of what light feels like moving through the body. We shot most of this practically on film, and I worked with CGI artists to project these certain movements around a person and shoot that in real time, so it looks like it’s actually happening. Just getting back to the roots of what filmmaking used to be, because I’m like, if I can do that, now I can understand the concepts. I can apply that if I’m working on this bigger thing with all these different computers and stuff. Because, like I said, you gotta be hands on. So yeah, that piece was very fun for me. It’s called Heal.

Christian: Do you have a certain subject matter that you’re, like, I want to make this? Like, I would love to make a boxing movie or a baseball movie or an epic love story? Are there certain subject matters within the sci-fi genre that you’re interested in?

Jared: Yeah, I think right now I’m really interested in nature versus technology. I think we’re moving into this time where some people are like, oh, we have to go back to nature. And other people are, like, oh, no, that’s never happening. We’re going to become robots. I think that’s something that really interests me. Because, as a kid, I spent a lot of time in Beaverton, Oregon. Portland. I was out hiking, touching grass, breathing in the air, and seeing the trees. 

And I’m like, oh my god, this is nature? This is amazing. And then I moved to Texas as a young kid where some kids are not as exposed to the majesty of what the world offers us. And yeah, through different experiences, relationships, and these things that have played out in my life, I’ve seen how technology’s leading us in this way that’s very far from our true selves. That’s what’s kind of drawing me in right now.

Christian: Not to deviate too much, but did you get into the AI stuff recently? With Midjourney and Dalle and all those things? What are your thoughts on those? Too scary?

Jared: It’s just a tool. I was talking about the divergence of nature and technology. I think we are overestimating our ability to innovate and create things with technology and underestimating what is already there—that we contain. So I think if you’re afraid of a tool like Dalle, then you’re not digging deep enough and understanding that your potential as a human is – it’s gotten a lot on this. How long has Apple existed? How many years?

Christian: Probably close to 20. No, it was like 1990, I think they came out in ‘91 or ‘92? So, 20-something years?

Jared: 20-something years.

Christian: Which is nothing. 

Jared: Yeah, that’s about my age. So, that’s like comparing my age to—how long have human beings been around, debatably?

Christian: Possibly 100,000 years.

Jared: At the least. So we’re comparing 100,000 years to 20 years? 100 years, even, if you want to go back to computers, period.

Christian: It’s the exponentiality of technology that’s very scary.

Jared: I think humans have exponentiality.

Christian: You think we’re still evolving? That’s kind of the question. Is there going to be a place where we won’t be able to do basic things in a couple of years, without sort of integrating with AI in some way? You know what I mean? But we already are. Do you go anywhere without your phone?

Jared: Those are good times. Yeah, I’m lucky enough to have just the faintest memory of the world before technology. You know, like, my formative years were just regular living. And by the time these things came around, I had enough of a brain to know what’s real and what’s not.

Christian: I think we’re both in that. Because I was born in ’91.

Jared: Yeah, that sounded like a diss towards young people. 

Christian: No, I think it’s a very special time that we grew up in. It’s a transition moment between pre-internet—not even pre-internet, but pre-accessibility, you know what I’m saying?

Jared: That’s why I’m fascinated by that kind of duality. 

Christian: Yeah. I mean, me and my brother used to literally go and play in a ditch somewhere, and it was the best. I remember that. It’s, like, my kids don’t play in ditches. You know what I mean?

Jared: Yeah, they’re building Minecraft worlds.

Christian: Yeah. Well, what’s the difference? Is there a difference? We’re getting out there right now. But I love it. 

Jared: Is there a difference?

Christian: Building worlds in a computer simulation versus throwing some sticks and lighting some fireworks and blowing up some army guys. You’re still using your imagination, right? But what is the sort of long-term or short-term?

Jared: There’s nothing like the real thing. I think the more we indulge in praising the capabilities of technology and avoiding understanding what we’ve been capable of in the past as humans, where we’re at now, like our physical—like I said, I tried to make Heal using techniques that were practical. 

I like to spend my time hitting things. I like to feel and I like work that evokes that out of me, and I think that’s what changes things the most. So that’s why I always come back to what’s real versus this technology. It is a tool, for sure, but it’s a tool that we can’t solely rely on.

I think that’s the biggest point that I’m trying to make—if we get too caught up in, like, oh, this AI thing can now just create the whole storyboard—We’re missing the magic from it. We’re taking our own power away from the thing. So, if instead maybe we think, oh, here’s this thing that can help me make my ideas even bigger or better, or execute a certain thing more efficiently, then sure. But um, yeah, we just have to control it. We can’t let it control us.

Christian: Scary stuff, dude.

Jared: I can’t even imagine coming up right now. All the distractions and things that are gonna get in your way that I feel like are—

Christian: That’s an interesting point, because we came up with the innovation of the 5D, that was our big thing. I can have access to the thing that shoots fairly high quality with shallow depth of field. Everything’s available. I can’t even imagine being 14 or 15 years old and wanting to be a filmmaker. Or is it the idea that there’s too much choice, so you just don’t even choose anything? You know what I’m saying?

Jared: Yeah, I think there’s still choices. I think people have more choices now of the kind of filmmaker that they want to be. There’s these different outlets. And it’s not just the kind of filmmaker they want to be, but what kind of person do I want to be, and what’s my voice here in the world? So, I like that. Because that allows people to express themselves more wholly. And if they feel like they’re able to be maybe more true to themselves, they can be happier. And if people are happier, they’re able to move with love. That’s the point of this whole thing here.

Christian: I love that. I appreciate it. No seriously, I’m not joshing.

Jared: I think it’s ironic, because you look at my work and you’re like—

Christian: It’s a little dark, dude. This has been great. Thank you for sitting with us. 

Jared: It was a great time. I hope you guys get to take something interesting away from here.

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Jim Cummings: The Thunder Road feature, it was supposed to it’s a suicide letter. It was supposed to be this thing that was going to kill me, and I wanted to have it out in the world before I died. And now I don’t know what I’m still doing here.