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The Bullhorn | Meet Director Joel Kapity

Meet Bottle Rocket Media Director Joel Kapity

There is no shortage of creative talent at Bottle Rocket Media these days – emphasized by the onboarding of longtime Chicago-based director, Joel Kapity, who has been telling stories through the lens since childhood. A love for the human experience guides his creative sensibilities, while his fearless outlook helps him accomplish what others deem “impossible.” 

Here’s what Joel had to say about his rise as a successful storyteller:

What got you into directing? 

As a kid, I was always the guy with a camera. While others were hanging out, doing what kids do, I would be shooting little shorts with whomever I could wrangle on any given night.  

What about the craft moves you?

I think I’m terrible at a lot of things—directing is not one of them. There is no other job that comes more naturally or brings me more joy. One of my favorite aspects is working with professional actors to bring a story to life. As a director, I have a very specific task of pulling emotions out of others, and I love playing with framing, lighting and camera moves to help draw the audience further into the worlds of the characters.

How did you hook up with Bottle Rocket Media? What drew you to the company?

At my last studio, I was given the opportunity to direct a commercial with Bottle Rocket Media staff as my crew. It was a great experience. During the shoot, I had some solid conversations with Dan and Brett, and felt very in tune with their passion to produce great video content. It was a genuine connection. Bottle Rocket Media and I shared the same creative thoughts and direction—very refreshing. My gut feeling was that I could produce some truly incredible content with this studio.

What unique elements do you bring to the portfolio?

My most unique slash powerful element as a director is my love for people, and how that translates to my commercial work – whether it’s a tv spot, a feature film or social media content. The material I am most proud of almost always involves storylines driven by human relationships.

Also, big ideas with small budgets don’t scare me. I honestly believe I can accomplish what others deem “impossible.” 

How does your style lend itself to brand videos?

Shock and awe. I am obsessed with creating cinematic visuals to support brand awareness in new and exciting ways. For every project, I try to think about that one extra visual effect, shot or action that creates a video people will remember—one that stands out in a flooded market.

What can we look forward to from you in 2019?

So far, 2019 has been jam-packed with creating content for different brands every week and there are no signs of slowing down. I’m currently finishing my third film, I AM YOUR KEEPER, while working on several big client videos for Bottle Rocket Media.  

What industry techniques/technology/methods are you most excited about right now?

I am really excited about all the cameras and lighting tools we didn’t have 20 years ago – when I was still cutting my teeth as a director. A couple of months ago, I directed a Phantom high-speed camera commercial shoot with two of the best hockey players in the world—I was blown away by what we were able to capture. High-speed cameras can bring such an incredible value to a project that no other piece of equipment can. I’m also obsessed with the use of robotic arms in production, which is becoming extremely popular for capturing food and sports commercial imagery.   

What is one of your proudest accomplishments? Why? What obstacles did you have to overcome?

Directing and producing my second film, Dreams. It consumed my life for three years, three to six days a week, and roughly 15-20 hours a day. The movie involved a huge cast, with thousands of extras, and a limited budget. It’s a film I’d wanted to make for about 10 years and it ultimately involved flying in actors from all over the country. Considering the huge job at hand every day on set, it was definitely the most complex thing I have directed to date. 

Any words of wisdom?

Don’t listen to others who tell you what to be or what to do.

The best decisions I have made in my life were the ones that didn’t make sense to others. When you feel like being a part of something, just do it. Don’t think about the money or what you think you deserve. When you are a part of a project you love, you will perfect your craft. And that always leads to something bigger and better. Don’t wait to have what you think you need. If you are truly meant to do something, take a leap of faith and people will follow you.

Favorite movie and why:

One of my favorite movies is Crash. As far as films that tell multiple stories go, this was one of the best.  

Word with the Expert Dan Wulfing: Why Graphic Designers Should Seek Inspiration In-Real-Life (After Reading this Blog, of Course)

If you are reading this on some type of brightly lit screen that you rarely abandon, then you could probably benefit from the following interview with Bottle Rocket Media’s own creative director, Dan Wulfing – who has been immersed in motion graphic design since before Mac computers switched over to Intel processors (if you know, then you know). He has witnessed, firsthand, a rapid evolution of an entire industry through the development of digital software, yet remains simplistic in his approach for artistic inspiration.

As far as Dan is concerned, “checking out of the virtual world and into the real world” can be one of the best ways for designers to catch up on emerging trends and start a few of their own:

How does the tangible world around you inform the creative process?

First of all, I live and work in Chicago, one of the most culturally explosive and creative cities in the world. Everyone that comes here is stunned by the architecture—which stokes an awe-inspiring feeling I experience everyday I commute to and from work. Coupled with the smells, sounds and moody weather of the Midwest, there is something in the atmosphere that can’t be fully understood through a digital portal. Up close, every brick, every brass door fitting and every windowpane tells a story through its unique character. For me, experiencing textures, details and even imperfections through all of my senses helps evoke a stronger idea to play with when I sit down to grind away. When my core concepts are more vivid and fully imagined in my own head, so is my work. It doesn’t matter if you live in Chi-town or Memphis—there is always something extra special to be gleaned from your surroundings. You just gotta look.

How can our environments help us tap into what is trending or what could be trending?

Staying on the cutting edge of design is not always about sitting in front of a monitor and taking in the world with a mouse and a search engine. I am always scanning the hoods and streets throughout the city, and sometimes that’s my whole purpose for being out in the first place. When patterns begin to emerge, whether in the form or architecture trends or eatery styles, for example, I am right there to catch it and hopefully use the inspiration to offer our clients visually captivating concepts that are also in line with public appeal. But, it’s not just about the obvious—sometimes I have to dig deeper by going into the basement of that tiny vintage record store or 80s-forward clothing retailer. Even though most trends of yesteryear have come and gone, there are always specific elements within older genres we can repurpose or reimagine into a current project. Also, mixing a bit of nostalgia with contemporary design styles can help create swift familiarity with audiences who are encountering a product or service for the first time. Clients tend to like that!

Final Question. Since music is an integral part of Bottle Rocket Media’s approach to video production, do you recommend sound-tracking IRL experiences for designers on the hunt for inspiration?

Dude—yes. Music is one of the most effective ways of communicating a feeling or vibe when producing for TV, film, or the web, and it can completely change the way we perceive things. I love all music, from the 1920s right up to dubstep, and I try to use different styles to accompany my treks throughout the city, especially when I’m winding along the river and staring up at the skyline. It never ceases to amaze me how different the same locations seem to look and feel when the soundtrack is altered. Having a vast library of tunes at your disposal through an app like Spotify or iTunes is so easy nowadays, and I can’t count how many times I have developed an idea based on one of my own personal, “cinematic” experiences. In many cases, it was simply a matter of switching my music filter from jazz to classical, or from alternative to rap. Chances are, if you are moved by a certain AV combo when out for an adventure, someone else will be too.

Thanks, Dan!

Are you hungry like Dan Wulfing? Click here to see what the real world can inspire!