I am a filmmaker, writer and actor. I grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona. Before that, I was born in Geneva, Switzerland where I spent the first year of my life. My life began in the paparatzi’s lense. Being mistaken for Sophia Loren’s son who was born around the same time, in the same hospital, and by the same doctor, I got a taste early-on of what it feels like to be the center of attention.
As a kid, I directed and acted in skits with my brother for my grandmother and grandfather (or “grandmere” and “grandpere” as we called them). After taking acting classes in high school, I got more and more interested in directing and the inner workings of character. After high school, I continued to study filmmaking but started to branch out and declared psychology as my major. I then begin my “Mr. Magoo” life. I traveled and lived in places that called to my spirit. And everywhere I went, I took the opportunity to further my film education. In San Francisco, I took film classes at San Francisco State. In Chicago, I took film classes at Columbia College. And once back in Arizona, I studied filmmaking in Paris, France at La Sorbonne University with the New York Film Academy.
Lisa Murray and Robert Townsend
at the Sundance Film Festival
I believe that film writers and directors (and artists of any kind really) should learn to trust their instincts more than spending time in a film school. (However, I do believe learning your technical craft is important as well!) My point is that there is more to being a good director than just technical know-how. I believe you must be a good communicator (to communicate your vision to each and every person on the set and part of the project), a good leader (to effectively lead the crew... otherwise there is dissent!), and a great observer of life (to make your retellings universal and interesting). When you’re on the set, there are so many people coming at you, asking you questions, if you don’t have your center, if you don’t know what you’re trying to accomplish, more than any other person there, then the film is doomed!
I continued to follow my intuition when it lead me to a career opportunity at a record label. I had been applying at film studios when I received a call from a record label. I was confused because I didn’t want to work in music at the time, I wanted to further my connections in the film industry. But then I had this deep feeling that working there would change my life, and it did. While at the record label, I learned about how the entertainment industry really works and honed my leadership ability, taking charge of numerous marketing, publicity, touring and production projects working with some top people in the industry. I continued to write and even submitted treatments for music videos that were very well received by the CEO, the Marketing Manager and the artists. I really learned how to fight for what I wanted in a diplomatic, fair and respectful way while at the label. Until then, it was really hard for me to stand up for myself creatively. But working there, you had to or you would sink! At the time, I thought I was in hell, but now I look back and realize that was the best thing that could of happened to me. Now I have a confidence when I work on my projects that I will be able to deliver what I set out to accomplish, no matter what personalities are around me, or obstacles are placed in front of me! I’m unstoppable!
Wherever life takes me, I am always focused on learning and growing. I believe that to be an effective storyteller you must be a good observer, trust your instincts and be willing to be open to the unknown. I call my life the ‘Mr. Magoo’ path because it’s just like that cartoon! Mr. Magoo would be walking on a plank on a construction site, hundreds of floors up in the air, and because he is blind, he would almost walk off the edge! But then at the last minute, another plank would come up and meet his foot, and he would be alright. He was never aware of any of this, which is what made all the more a piece of wisdom for me! Sometimes you have to just walk in a direction, believing that everything will be alright, and you know what? In the end, everything always works out, doesn’t it? We just have to learn to remember and trust that when we’re facing some pretty scary stuff! If you haven't read "The Alchemist" I highly recommend it.
Lisa Murray and "America's Next Top Model" Winner, Naima at the People Magazine/Entertainment Tonight
I currently live in Los Angeles where I work at a major studio. I also handle marketing and publicity for music artist and producer, Dapo Torimiro, as well as for several other individuals/companies. (More on that later...) In the tiny moments of time left over, I am preparing to make my first feature documentary about…people following their dreams.