Brown Director Michael Maxxis discusses his creative influences, film-making style and recent big win of Director of the Year at the MuchMusic Video Awards

Brown director Michael Maxxis’ original, raw style of filmmaking that employs in-camera visual effects has penetrated the music video scene and created an identity that stands on its own. Recent works have garnered him three MuchMusic Award nominations and five Alberta Film Awards. In 2010 Michael was named the MuchMusic Video Awards Director of the Year.

Interviewed here, Michael speaks about his first break into the advertising business, his creative and aesthetic approach to directing, and working with the late David Carradine on his most recent film ‘8 For Infinity.’

How would you characterize your approach as a director?

I would just say that I take every production very seriously all the way up until the shooting day… then during the shoot, I’m very relaxed and loose.  Once we hit post, I’m back to being very serious again.

What aesthetic movements influence your filmmaking?

Well, to be honest, my favorite movies growing up all starred Van Damme, Seagal, Stallone, and Arnie. I was never into art as a kid… most of my influences come from real life and my own hands on experimentation with cameras and film.

What was your first break in the advertising business?  How about

My first break in advertising came last year in nyc, when I was shooting a music video there for Jimmy Gnecco. It happened to be the same week as a Boards conference. I snuck into a party and that’s where I met the folks from Brown.

I can’t say I had any breaks that launched my film career in general though.  I’ve had to fight tooth and nail for every bit of ground I’ve gained.

Do you have a ritual or particular approach when it comes to fueling a creative brainstorming session?

Yes, but it’s top secret.
What was the coolest thing about winning the MuchMusic Director Of The Year Award in 2010?

It’s always a great feeling when your creative work is acknowledged and appreciated. 3 years ago I went to my first MMVA’s and I remember thinking how amazing it would be if I could be nominated in the next 10 years. Well, the next year I was nominated and the year after that I won. It was pretty surreal.

In your filmmaking, we see a consistent use of heavy guitar sounds, is there a hidden basement guitarist inside MM?

I actually couldn’t be any LESS skilled when it comes to playing music. I do however place great emphasis on its importance on setting the tone in projects I direct.

What's your favorite industry website?

What is your favorite place to unwind and what do you wear?

Unwind? What does that mean? That’s a foreign word in this business.

Last year you worked on David Carradine's last short film. Any stories you might want to share as it relates to '8 For Infinity'?

It was an experience I appreciate very much. It was such an honor and a pleasure to work with him. We shot the film 3 hours outside of Edmonton, and after the shoot, david and I drove back to Edmonton together. It was a drive I will never forget.

After the Sweet Thing "Change Of Seasons" music video, who got to keep the inflatable instruments?

We shot that video in a very poor part of downtown LA, so after the shoot, we actually gave away all the crazy props to street kids.

What post-production techniques were used on your Muchmusic Rock Video Of The Year for Billy Talent's "Saint Veronica"? Any other cool things to note about the production?

The only post effect in that video was the creation of fuzz under the doll’s wool skin. Everything else was done in camera. I’m a fan of achieving everything I possibly can in camera. I’m not a post guy.

Whose idea was it to create and/or use the fabric covered girl in the your MuchMusic Rock Video Of The Year for Billy Talent's "Saint Veronica"?

It was my idea. The concept however is based loosely on the meaning of the song. The band didn’t want something too literal. The song is based on a novel about a woman who attempts to kill herself.

In your film "Steak and Milk", we see multiple individuals flirting with Naughty things. Do you see your life in a voyeuristic way since you are behind a lens so often?

A lot of my work is based on real life experiences and dreams, and a lot of the time I’m casting friends of mine. As a filmmaker, it has always been my goal to base my style on my own perspective of the world. My work is actually a pretty solid view into my real life.

Your film "Steak and Milk" is inspired by a true story, can you elaborate on that?

It’s primarily based on my cousin, Morgan, who is the lead in the film. He is a very unique guy and we were very close growing up as kids. He’s one of the most interesting people I have ever met. The cowboy in the film is played by my best friend ever since eighth grade. That character is based our an awfulsense of humor we share.

What is your advice for up and coming filmmakers?

Be patient.

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