You might know who directs your favorite TV shows, but you may not know the mind behind the commercials! Enter Brandon Loper, a local filmmaker and commercial director working out of Forge in Birmingham.
Born and raised in Alabama, Loper graduated from the University of North Alabama in 2005 with a degree in entertainment media production. He lived in San Francisco, California for almost eleven years before moving back to Birmingham with his wife and two kids.
For a creative like Loper, Forge is the perfect spot to manage his projects. From directing his own films to working with big-name advertisers, Loper does it all from his spot overlooking Downtown Birmingham. We hopped up to the 2nd floor of the Pizitz to find out what Loper has planned for the future.
How do you define your work?
I’m a commercial director as my day job, so I partner with advertising agencies, production companies and directly to brands to execute a concept or flesh out an idea. A lot of times, I get a script and they’ll say, “Hey, we’d like you to put your spin on this. What can you bring to the table?” I’ve been lucky enough to do that for brands like Nike, Google, Twitter, Comcast, Starbucks… a lot of brands that have a lot of national recognition.
The heart of it is storytelling, which is why I’m pushing more towards narrative filmmaking. I just finished my first short narrative film that I submitted to Sidewalk. I also submitted the documentary I did for Nike last year, “Still KD,” on Kevin Durant and his run-up to winning the championship.
Where did you get your start?
When I moved to San Francisco, I got an internship in a large advertising agency called Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. I had a boss there, James Horner, who started a young director’s program. This was pivotal in my career because I’d always wanted to direct, but I viewed myself as the guy editing, shooting, writing, and making everything.
I got my first gig outside of the Goodby world directing with producer Dalia Burde exclusively for five years, and her production company produced my feature documentary, “A Film About Coffee.”
When I moved here, I went nonexclusive in an effort to work more with people here in Birmingham. It’s been fun to travel and see the world, but I really want to be home at night.
How long have you been working out of Forge?
Since January. I toured it in August of last year, before it even opened. If I’m in town and not hanging out with my family at home, I’m usually here. It’s great being downtown.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I’ll get here after I take my kids to school, have my second or third cup of coffee, and then go settle into my spot. When I’m not co-working, it’s a headphones-on situation.
Depending on what I’m working on, I’ll take advantage of the phone booth, or one of the conference rooms that you can use for phone calls. I don’t take my phone calls in the middle because usually, I can’t really talk about what I’m working on, so I’ll go there to chat.
How is networking with others at Forge?
Kim Lee, the founder and CEO of Forge, is a major networker. A few weeks ago, we were having coffee in the kitchen, and I was telling her about everything going on. She says, “You’ve got to meet this person! You need to work together.” Later, we were meeting about me directing her TV pilot. There are a lot of cool connections. Working at Forge has been great because we can just pop into a meeting room and whiteboard it out.
What are you up to now?
I’m launching an online film workshop called On Set Prep, and I’m working with someone here at Forge who is helping me do the marketing and sales funnels. I’m really excited about that because I enjoy teaching and being a part of education. My course, On Set Prep, is a boot camp for people to learn to be a production assistant. We’re going to be launching it this month. I’m also looking to partner with local high schools and the Film Birmingham coalition. I’m very excited about what’s happening in the film community in Birmingham.
Loper is just one of the very creative people working at Forge.