Max Gutiérrez is a Director/DP with a knack for capturing those unrepeatable moments that bring truth to narrative. A San Francisco native, Max graduated from UC Berkeley and enjoyed a stint at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners before earning his MFA from the School of Cinematic Arts at USC. With a background in music videos, indie films and film school, he's a scrappy filmmaker at heart and knows how to get it done with less.
His work has been recognized by some of the biggest names in the business, including AdWeek, the AICP, the One Club, The Addy’s and the Young Director Awards at Cannes. His music video work was featured in Billboard Magazine and nominated for Best Music Video of the Year honors by the Latin Grammys, MTV Europe, the Premios Juventud Awards and the Orgullosamente Latino. 1. What’s your first memory with a camera?
Not to date myself, but my first memory was of playing with a Polaroid camera. I don’t remember much, only that I was amazed when the photo came spitting out. I must have been around 4-years old, but it was like magic to me. Aside from that, I remember trying to get out of book reports in school, so I’d make little films instead with our family VHS camera. The most infamous was project titled “Dumbfellas.” It was based on Shaekespeare’s Othello
and was basically an opportunity for stoned high schoolers to mock the movie Goodfellas. 2. How are you dealing with the quarantine? What’s your advice for other directors in the same situation?
Well, I’ve got kids at home, so I’m navigating the misadventures of homeschooling. That said, directing involves a lot of traveling, so I am recharging my soul and spending as much time with my kids as possible. And I’m developing some feature-length projects in the background, which is something I rarely have time for. Initially, I was scrambling to take photos of my home and kids so I could be ready to shoot here at my house, but I felt like I was spinning my wheels. When the industry is ready to come back, it will. It’s going to look different, but we’ll adapt to the new norm. So, my advice would be to recharge your battery, work on yourself, enjoy the people you love and catch up on Netflix. There’s no point to running in place. 3. Is there a book, painting or album meaningful for your career?
It’s hard to call out a particular work of art. Something clicked when I saw the work of Salvador Dalí for the first time, specifically The Persistence of Memory
. Then there was the first time I saw Pink Floyd's The Wall
. As I dove deeper into the lyrics, the political framing and the psychedelic sounds, it was like something in my mind had been awoken. And all around the same time I was reading Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World
. There was something about these altered and dystopian realities that just struck a chord. Yes, mushrooms and LCD were in my adolescent future! Nowadays though, I find the most pleasure in watching Rick and Morty
with my boys. 4. How does your work in videoclips relate to the advertising?
I hate using the word “authentic” because it’s so over used, but there is a reason people are looking for it in advertising. People want truth in content and narrative and that’s what I try to bring to my work, no matter the genre. I’m not a “shoot the sheet metal” or “bite and smile” kind of director. I always try and ground my scenes in personal experience and offer my on-screen talent context and backstory so they’re grounded in their performances. For me, it’s like shooting a scene from a film. Hopefully, it all comes off cinematic, relatable and subtly humorous, as I generally like to have a laugh. 5. What are you working on?
I’m bidding a couple of projects right now, but my main focus is developing a couple of feature-length projects. One, a biopic, the other a road trip movie, which hopefully answers question #6 as well. Aside from my professional endeavors, I can’t wait until the world opens back up. You don’t realize how much wanderlust you have inside you until you’re forced to stay home. Our family loves spending time in Costa Rica and Mexico, so those places top our post-pandemic travel-list. I’ve been dying to explore South East Asia as well.
Production company: Cortez Brothers
Contact: Martin Feuerstein