I met Spike over a three-hour dinner at Balthazar to talk about adapting Shane Jones’s novel Light Boxes. I grew up on Spike’s work, but it wasn’t like meeting the queen of England. It was a conversation, a collaboration. He told me he liked the baby seat in the video I did for MGMT’s “Kids.” You have no idea: That was one of those things where you pour all this work into a detail and you wonder, Is anyone even going to notice this? And then it’s Spike Jonze noticing, which was cool.
I directed MGMT’s videos because they’re from Wesleyan, too, and I didn’t want anyone else to get it wrong. But I don’t want to be known as one of those Brooklyn kids who smokes pot all day and looks at cats. After college I moved to New Orleans to make a movie. I had tried working as a P.A. for a film shooting in Bushwick, but everyone expects you to work for free, so I figured I might as well be doing my own work.
When my senior thesis played at Sundance, people pushed me to direct easy features, but I’m not good at mercenary work. I’m too weird. You know how I calm down when I’m editing? I listen to Shields and Brooks on NewsHour online— stuff from, like, 1996.