There are just not enough acting roles in Hollywood. For this reason, some take the road towards becoming a director. However, directing is not an easy feat either. Today’s guest has shown that with passion, perseverance, and drive, you can fulfill your dreams in abundance. Dani Behr and Tara Joseph sit down with successful young director, David Tripler, to talk about the path he’s taken over the past eight years towards becoming who he is now. A second-generation Mexican-American storyteller, David is also keen on creating opportunities in the Hispanic marketplace for actors and performers. He discusses his successful short film called Fake Mexicans and his upcoming TV series bible for SOUTH OF SUNSET. Determined, ambitious, and with lots of talent, listen to Dani and Tara’s interview with David as he shares his favourite directors and films and the importance of honouring the story no matter what the project.
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Honoring The Story When Directing With David Tripler
Dani And Tara Interview Young Successful Director, David Tripler
We love to have a plethora of interesting, funny, good catches, and a wide variety of guests on our show. Our guest is no exception. He brings a little Hollywood, a little glamor to the show. Tara, who do we have on the show?
Becoming a director is not an easy feat but our guest has shown that with passion, perseverance and drive, you can fulfill your dreams in abundance. Let’s welcome to the show, the determined, inspirational and talented young director, David Tripler. David, how are you?
I’m doing well. I’m super excited and enthused from that introduction.
You’ve got to be good now. Tara is known for a big intro so now you’ve got to live up to it.
I’m bringing her everywhere. Can you introduce me, please?
We know you’re a hot director. You also have other strings to your bow like producer and writer. The beginning is where we like to usually start. Where were you from? Where did you grow up? Did you always want to be a director? Let’s go back to what the basics are.
I was born and raised in Los Angeles, specifically the south area, Inglewood, Hawthorne.
I can’t say you’re an OG anymore because every person we meet now is born and raised in LA. It’s not like the old days where you were first-generation. Everybody now has been here for a minute.
That’s good to know because a lot of people that you meet still say, “It’s rare to meet people from LA.”
We meet quite a lot but it is nice, still. You’re one of the OGs, born and raised.
My family grew up here in this little city called Lennox, which is a pocket within Inglewood. All of my family are still there, my grandparents. That’s the side of town that I grew up in.
Inglewood isn’t what it used to be, though. It is fancy and expensive now.
There are pockets that have still kept its charm. My grandparents and that whole neighborhood haven’t sold their houses. They don’t want to sell them. I don’t want to sell them. The Ram Stadium is changing some things in that general vicinity but it still has the charm.
It’s a hot neighborhood in the real estate world, FYI.
I can imagine. You’re right by the airport, which I’m sure is big.
It’s always a bonus. Where did the directing, writing, and producing passion come from? Tell us about how that all started.
When I got to college, I was a business law student but I wanted to be a sports agent. I love sports. I said, “I know that at 5’10”, my chances of the NBA are low but I loved it so much. Maybe I want to get involved in the business.” I was taking in an acting elective in college, which set the fire of possibly pursuing it after some encouragement from teachers. You start finding roles and there aren’t enough roles for you. I said, “Nothing’s going to change unless I write so let me try to take a playwright class.” That writing was perfect timing with working on a film set from a senior student. That’s when I first saw how movies were made. I thought, “I’m interested in doing this but I need to learn.” I applied to film school. I got in, kept the business administration minor, and went from there. I said, “Let me learn how to produce. Let me see if I can direct something.” You were forced to make your own short film. You didn’t have a choice and say, “Let me write and let someone else take over.” You had to get your feet wet and do it all.
We are in the mecca of the film industry. It’s where it all goes down. It’s being in the environment and the surrounding of anyone that is 2 or 3 degrees away from somebody who’s in the business because it is the business here. Do you think that has helped choose this career and stay in this career?
I don’t know that it helped early on. You have to put yourself out there from wherever you’re from to go to these meetings and meet people. As I’m starting to find in everything that has happened, even in the last few months, you have to go and meet people at any and all events. You can’t assume that one person is going to be that one yes. It’s about making relationships. If there’s something that I’ve noticed from the journey of the eight years since graduating, I didn’t do that enough. I was still trying to figure out my voice. What I wanted to write about, and what I was going to bring to the table with what I want to challenge, hopefully, as a writer and director, I don’t know that it’s helped. I don’t have any family in the business. Obviously, there’s Alyssa now.
Being out and about in LA, the chances of meeting another writer or director are much higher than if you live in Ohio or somewhere else in the states.When directing, you have to honor the story first no matter what project you take. Click To Tweet
You’re going to run into a plethora of people that want to get involved.
You said that there weren’t enough roles for you to audition for. As a Hispanic man, did you mean that in relating to Hispanic roles or roles in general? I know that one of the things as a director that you’re keen to pursue and explore is creating opportunities in the Hispanic marketplace for actors and performers.
Starting out, it was mostly getting typecast as a jock. Whenever you would see breakdowns on websites for casting services, it would be stereotypical roles that were poverty-based or gangbangers. Those are the types of roles that you still see perpetuated. Now, my 100% focus is on helping my community in giving that a new meaning and a new life. First and foremost, as I’ve learned, you have to honor the story first, no matter what project. I hope that as a storyteller, I’d like to think that I’m given a piece of my Americana where someone inspired me, like Martin Scorsese. People call him an American director. They don’t say he’s Italian-American. They say, “American great, Martin Scorsese.” What he did was bridge good storytelling.
Based on what you were saying in terms of putting forward a new Hispanic representation, I think that the number one thing is always the story and being a good storyteller. It’s honoring that and not always thinking about it, as this needs to be used specifically latent thing. However, my reference to someone that I idolize and look up to is Martin Scorsese. He was a good storyteller and he’s known as a great American director. When you see his films, a lot of them have had a lot of his community, what he knows to be his experience. I hope to bring that to what I make and say, “I want to tell good stories.” I want to consider how I’m directing this and being specific with how I shoot things in the style that I can bring but reflecting my community and my upbringing in the faces that I decided to cast in those worlds.
You had huge success with your short film, Fake Mexicans, and you were a runner up in the Amazon Studios’ All Voices Diversity contest. That’s right, isn’t it?
How did you go about finding these opportunities and putting yourself in a place where you could be considered to be a Voices of Diversity contestant? That’s a great accomplishment. I know you promoted it all over the place when you were part of the Amazon experience.
As an experiment, I’ve never done comedy before. It was in late 2018 when I was thinking about making one. I started noticing a lot of the hot shows that were coming out, like Atlanta at the time, which I loved. I thought, “Where’s a show like that for us?” Clearly, I wasn’t there to write that sort of thing. I thought, “Where is our master of none? Where is our insecure, so to speak?” It shows in that comedy space. I said, “There isn’t anything that challenges and makes fun of the stereotypes that we’re used to hearing about on these other digital videos that you see online that a lot of us are tired of seeing.”
There are many avenues now with uploading your content whether it’s Vimeo, YouTube or Instagram. I came across something that said that you can upload independently. Once I started searching that, Amazon’s Prime Video Direct came up. I said, “Maybe there’s an avenue where we can upload something to Prime Video Direct and release our episode to see if people like it.” It happened to be such perfect timing because of the announcement of Amazon Studios’ first All Voices contest. It’s their first year doing it and they wanted diverse filmmakers.
The cool thing that I appreciated was that they don’t have any say in picking the first ten. The first round was going to select the top ten only on data. Amazon Studios had nothing to do with it. It was based on how well we could market and spread the word, the feedback, and the engagement. They accepted the top ten on a few markers, which were the viewership and streaming numbers in minutes, the comments left and reviews, and the star rating system which you typically see on Amazon. It happened to be perfect timing when this came out as I was already thinking about uploading the video. When we did upload it, we were ready for the contest. They gave you about 2.5 weeks. It was one of the most fun experiences because it was scary. I’m like, “I might fall on my face doing this.”
What’s happened to you on the back of the success that you had with being part of that contest? How has that helped your career?
It’s been interesting, the pros and cons. I’ve heard this advice before so please take this to heart. You have to be ready. You have to be ready with that next thing, that TV pilot or that TV bible if you’re going to make a short film. What happened was that a lot of people came into my life by seeing this on Amazon. I met a good friend of mine that works over at Netflix. I said, “I want to meet with you. I thought this was funny. Let’s talk about where you’re at.” Some managers came into my life that was interested in seeing where I was at and I didn’t have the next thing because this was an experiment. With the success of Amazon and certain festivals that I got into, I met many people that now see that I made something as opposed to saying, “I’m aspiring to make this or that.” We did that. We had success. The numbers, reviews, and people stopping us in the street have shown us that they want that type of content. I was challenged to then create a TV bible. That’s where I’m at now.
Is that the TV bible for your coming of age drama? Is that something different?
No, it’s for South of Sunset. It’s a TV show rather than a digital series. There were two avenues. If you keep pursuing this as a digital series, you can upload to Amazon Video Direct and market and still find success. The Emmys have a group or a category where you can have digital shows.
The timing has never been better for you.
Do we continue that route or do we make the TV bible? That will feel like a TV show of what the world would look like with characters in the six tight episodes, similar to Fleabag on Amazon. Their first season is six episodes. It’s nice and tight. It gets straight to the point. That’s been the model that people are starting to talk about. What are the six episodes you can have as the first season? If you can’t push it as a TV show, how do you show those episodes to make a new, fresh South of Sunset digital series, which ups the stakes, is bolder and bigger, and digs deeper as to what the show is about? That’s where I fell short with the first episode, which I’m proud of. There were still things that I needed to learn in terms of storytelling, what I was saying, and how to set those things up. That’s where I’m at a few months later. I’m meeting people that are excited that we won and liked that the appetite for this content is out there based on the streaming minutes. Now, it’s saying, “What does the whole show look like?”
Do you have to fund this yourself or do you get outside funding?
I funded this one myself. I have to put my money where my mouth is. If I fall on my face and it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. I’d rather attempt this with the savings that I have and I’m willing to risk it. I had good team members around me that had professional cameras. I had a good editor, a friend of mine that went to school with me. People took a chance because they believed in the project. I spent what I had, at the time, to do this. It paid off because you were eligible to win a royalty bonus if you were one of the five winners in this contest. To say that the short film made its money back is crazy.
I have to say though, Dani and I are lucky to have you on the show because I think that within the next 5 to 10 years, David Tripler will be a name that is known as a director. We’re going to know that we’ve got this interview with you early on in your directing career. That will be cool.
She’s going to brag about it, David. She’s a bragger, it’s going to happen.
I’ll post it. I think that it would be cool to see where the journey progresses for everyone.
Everybody starts somewhere. Everybody has their story. You’re in an exciting time. There’s been no better time if you are a creator or an artist, where you can create your own materials and content and upload that. Never before has anybody had those opportunities. Timing in life is everything. It seems like you’re capitalizing on that, which is exciting. Who are your favorite directors? Who inspired you both before you started and now? You mentioned Scorsese. He’s obviously everybody’s favorite. Are there others that you look up to and like their body of work or direct in a similar fashion?
Early on, the movies I liked were by Scorsese. I can go back and name a whole list of movies that I like. I would say that Spike Lee has been someone that has been interesting. Some movies are polarizing. Some movies are different than the previous stuff that he’s done. He’s had a range of things that he’s done, especially for someone who’s proud to put his community forward. Paul Thomas Anderson is a favorite of mine. If you look at his filmography, the kind of things he does, the attention to detail is amazing.
I’m a fan of Tarantino. Whenever his movies are coming out, you know you’re going to get something unique and different. I was going to say it’s the same thing up there with those directors. I like David Fincher movies a lot. They’re twisted, out there, and energetic. I like the stuff he does with cinematography and how careful it is with things like that. Someone that I also like because he’s had a wide range of things that he’s done and he’s still cinematic and cares about the craft is Steven Spielberg. I would put him up there as an inspiration.
He’s rad and groundbreaking.
You look at what he’s brought to the blockbuster genre and the different movies that he’s made. He made Jaws, Schindler’s List, and Catch Me If You Can. There are many different movies.
Who is up and coming that you probably have on your radar with pictures that have come out in the last couple of years that are ones to watch?
I’m a fan of Barry Jenkins. I thought Moonlight was a great story. Same thing, the attention to music. That was different than expecting an urban film to have the typical, in some instances, hip hop or rap. He did have some of that, but the scoring in that film, the color, the attention to the characters’ journey was great.
Wasn’t that the film where there was a screw up with the Oscars at the end where Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty said La La Land had won and actually it was Moonlight that had won?
When you’re talking about these directors that are ones to watch, what is it about them that makes them so appealing to you as a director? Us as the viewers looking at certain pictures when we go to the movies, we’re looking at the broader scheme of the movie. It’s two or one-and-a-half hours of looking at either the cinematography, actors, or writing. It’s many parts of a whole. When you’re a director looking at other directors, what is it that you noticed that the average Joe doesn’t?
Clearly, there was a design to the framing in Moonlight. It was specific attention to detail when framing, as well as lighting, in how those two things merge to tell the character’s story. I’m going to give you an example and I see this movie all the time at work. Have you seen Gone Girl?
If you watched Gone Girl, it’s a specific movie. You can pinpoint Ben Affleck wearing a blue undone shirt most of the way. If you notice, a lot of the pieces where Ben Affleck is disheveled and they’re trying to find a woman, it’s a cool blue. Whenever you cut back to her, it’s golden. Those are the little things.
They’re nuances we wouldn’t notice but you do, that changes the mood.
They’re little nuances that are helping you understand the story and you might not even know. There’s a specific moment in the end when she comes back. If you watch that end scene where they’re arguing in the hallway, Ben Affleck literally stops right between the light. It’s right between the blue and the gold.
I’ve got to watch this movie now that you said that because I’m intrigued.
There’s so much stuff that he does, but he’s known to do stuff like that. That’s why I appreciate David Fincher’s work.
That’s a director looking at a movie as opposed to the average person. Tara, would you have noticed that?
No, not in the same way.Timing in life is everything. Click To Tweet
I would never have noticed that. That shows you, subliminally, how it affects your consciousness without knowing.
I saw Uncut Gems by the Safdie brothers.
I want to see that. Is it the one with Adam Sandler?
Yeah. That energy. It’s also annoying when people say, “Study the grades instead of the framework. Study the lighting.” It’s also specific to what those filmmakers sought for that film. I can study the craft and movement of, “Look at that. Look at those tracking shots that Spielberg does.” Steven Spielberg knows that those tracking shots work well in that specific moment. Jaws is a great example. One of those scenes in Jaws where they’re first on the beach and he’s showing you the kid that’s about to get killed by the shark. It’s one tracking shot from left to right. That’s all it is. When you go from the left, there’s more going on the background than in the foreground. When you finish that shot, you meet the sheriff sitting down and looking at the water right in the foreground. That was all one movement but he understood the plot.
It’s like Scorsese’s famous Steadicam shot of coming out of the club and walking through pictures in Copacabana. That’s probably the most famous or longest Steadicam shot in the history of film or he has been surpassed.
That’s a great example. Specifically, for that story, he waited to use that. Why did he wait to use that then? It’s because he wanted to show this girl that he was the man. He was going through the back and all these people. What did she say when they stopped? She says, “What do you do?” It’s the famous line, “I’m in construction.”
It was brilliant.
Has either of you seen Bombshell? I went to see it. It is good.
There are great performances.
I thought they were well acted.
I loved Ford v Ferrari. I thought the cinematography was great there.
There’s so much stuff. I talked about this with my friends a lot. Cinema nerds or not, they were like, “This is one of the better years in a long time for movies.”
The last few years haven’t been that great.
I’m going to see Cats and I’m excited. I’m going to be dancing and singing in the aisles because I know the words to all of the songs. I’m not the biggest musical fan. I am discerning with musicals.
Do you know what’s interesting? I love them. I would like to make one, one day. I don’t know if you’ve seen Hamilton. Hamilton was amazing.
I like musicals on the stage, though. That’s where I feel like they belong. Sometimes when they put them in a movie, it doesn’t have the same feeling for me.
Did you like La La Land?
I didn’t. I loved Le Mis.
Les Miserables, not the movie, particularly. It was okay. If you’ve ever seen it on stage in London with the original cast, you can’t beat it.
Since we’re going to go back to this one day in the future when David Tripler, hopefully in a few years, is there, it’d be cool to make a musical of the world in style like Grease. If you think about American Graffiti back in the day and Diner, it’d be cool to make one of those now. A modern-day multicultural, fun, muscle car with dancing. I think that would be cool to see, with a lot of Latin flavor as well as a multicultural perspective. It’s all communities.
There’s your next project, David.
No, I would love to do that if someone said, “What’s your dream project one day?” and I get to make a couple of movies. I want to work with Lin-Manuel on that project. I’m going to put it into the universe right now for that one day.
See if you can get Maluma in the cast. That’s exciting. You have to put it out there because you never know what the universe gives back to you. You have to ask for it. I don’t think this is that much of a far-fetched conversation if you’re going to continue on the journey that you already are on. If you could have the dream cast, who would it be?
Hopefully, the dream cast with my coming of age feature film will have Jonah Hill in it. Maybe Lena Waithe, who’s doing a bunch of big things. Maybe even putting Michael B. Jordan on this one. I think it’s going to be hard because he’s super busy.
He’s going to be the most in-demand actor out there.
I do have this period piece that I hope is the second movie someday. I would love to have Tom Hanks in that film. I don’t know if you saw the pictures that he had. He has a big white beard and big hair. I’m like, “Tom Hanks would be great as that owner of that factory.” I would love to work with that guy. You can argue that he’s the greatest American actor. I also have a coming of age high school football story. I think Forest Whitaker would be fantastic for that role. He’s done a bunch of great work. He also helps with his company to produce film for new voices. He helped produce Ryan Coogler’s first film, Fruitvale Station. He’s someone that I’ve admired and been inspired by. There’s a bunch of people out there. JLo with Hustlers, you look at big people like that, who wouldn’t want to work with these stars? I’m focusing on the movie and those are the names that I’m throwing out so far.
It sounds like you know exactly where you’re going and what you want to do. That’s much to be admired and inspirational for young directors, producers and writers who might be reading. They can get some inspiration from what you’ve been saying. We appreciate you coming onto the show. You’ve been a great guest and we definitely want to have you back on. When you’ve got a movie or a TV series coming out, you’ve got to let us know. You need to be on here as your first bit of promo.
You said it so when I come back, there has to be a slot open.
You’re also going to be busier and you’re going to be like, “No, La La Landed.”
Trust me, we’ll find a slot for an Academy Award nominee.
We’ll fit you in, David. You’ve got to fit us, that’s the point.
We wish you all the best of luck. To all those aspiring young directors and writers out there, David has a great motivational and aspirational story. If he could make it happen and be where he is now, you guys can do it too. David, where can our readers find you, follow you, and connect with you?
Thank you to all of our readers for joining us. David, thank you for being a wonderful guest. We wish you all the best of luck and look forward to seeing your name pop up at the Globes or the Academy Awards. Remember us mere mortals.
Thank you so much.
All the best. Thank you so much.
Thanks. See you next time.
- David Tripler
- Instagram – David Tripler
About Jonathan Antoine
David Tripler is a second generation Mexican-American storyteller. He’s originally from from Los Angeles, CA and attended Loyola Marymount University where he majored in Film and TV Production with a minor in Business Administration. This past summer David won an award for making the top 5 in the Amazon Studios All Voices diversity contest with his experimental comedic episodic pilot “Fake Mexicans.” He’s now developing the TV series Bible for SOUTH OF SUNSET and will make his feature film directorial debut next year with his coming of age drama.
He currently takes classes through UCLA’s Screenwriting Extension and takes part in Lena Waithe’s Hillman Grad Mentorship Program.