Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico to a Peruvian father and Spanish mother, Miguel Arteta grew up all over Latin America due to his father's job as a Chrysler auto parts salesman. He attended Harvard University's documentary program where he learned filmmaking and eventually left for Wesleyan University where he met future collaborators Matthew Greenfield and Mike White.
Arteta's first film, Star Maps, debuted at the Sundance Film Festival. It was a critical hit, receiving five Independent Spirit Award nominations. He then turned to directing television shows, helming episodes of Homicide: Life on the Street, Freaks and Geeks, and Six Feet Under. He has also since directed episodes of The Office, Ugly Betty, and American Horror Story. Most recently he reunited with White and directed four episodes of White's HBO series Enlightened.
Q: What is your first memory with a camera?
MA: My father’s super 8 camera, love at first sight! It was one of the things that he took care more dearly, but that sometimes he allowed me to use. I think for many, the love for these cameras comes from not only through how the world looks through the viewfinder, but also due to how it sound. Today we miss that sound of the film passing through the camera.
Q: Is there a painting, book or record that has accompanied you through your career?
MA: Velvet Underground's music has been essential to me. It taught me a lot about art. The ability to be avant-garde, to be faithful to your vision, to experience and be provocative, these are elements that I always admire and implement in my work.
Q: In which projects are you currently working in?
MA: I'm finishing editing a movie called YES DAY for Netflix with Jennifer Garner, which is based on the book written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. It's a fun movie for all the family! I still can't say too much, but we had a great time on set and managed to finish production on time before the lockdown due to the covid-19 that has affected us all. Fortunately, post-production can be done without going against the social distancing, so we haven’t had any delays. I dare say that in the future much more will be achieved at a distance.
Q: Why did you join Altered LA team?
MA: I love working with Marcos Cline, founder and executive producer of Altered! He has a great passion for his work and his energy is contagious. It is important to be surrounded by people who are continually creating and Marcos has managed to establish that environment within Altered.LA. It is a space for support, creative experimentation, and above all, the search for projects that have a positive impact.
Q: In these times of quarantine, what advice you will give to a director?
MA: Write a journal every day and listen to your inner voice. You have the answer; you just have to turn down the volume on the distractions to hear it. It is also important because things for a director who does not write, at least in Hollywood, can get complicated. The good thing is that to achieve that you only have to force yourself to write to create the habit. This is why a journal is so important.
Q: Where is Miguel Arteta heading to?
MA: I’ve concluded to commercial movies, which gives me great satisfaction, but it’s time to return to my roots. I’ve already ping pointed a pair of more personal and independent projects. That, of course, and all the advertising we can get!
Contact: Marcos Cline-Márquez
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