An Ever-Expanding Experience
Lauren Sick is a writer and director, known for her music video work with artists such as Chromeo, MØ, Foster the People, A-Trak, American Authors, El-P, Vampire Weekend, A$AP Ferg, Anderson East, and Pentatonix. She recently directed the first teaser trailer for MGM Studios' biopic RESPECT, starring Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin. Lauren grew up in the dark woods of suburbia, screening inappropriate horror movies at slumber parties. A lover of horror and genre filmmaking, she was a creative collaborator on the feature film SCARE ME, starring Josh Ruben, Aya Cash, and Chris Redd, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2020.
A multifaceted director, Lauren's work spans both the narrative and branded space, having grabbed the attention of clients such as New Balance, Nike, Garmin, Fendi, FADER, Nasdaq, Soulcycle, and Beats By Dre. The spot she directed for Zola.com provoked international attention when the Hallmark Channel removed the ad for its depiction of a lesbian wedding. The piece (since re-instated on the network) was written about in the New York Times, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Rolling Stone, and Deadline, and was parodied on Saturday Night Live.
We sat down for a chat on creativity, vision and what’s next.
Fabrik: Hello Lauren, we’re happy to have you as a Hero! To start, you like to share a bit more about yourself in your own words?
Lauren Sick: "I am a New York-born, LA-based filmmaker with an affinity for horror, National Parks, Turner Classic Movies, and astrology."
Fabrik: The current state of affairs has upended the way filmmaking works. How do you navigate the situation? How do you approach and adapt to the new global context?
Lauren Sick: "I think the key to all of this is to remain positive. Being on set these days means a lot less crew members than we’re used to, so taking the time to budget for these new parameters to ensure everything is accomplished safely is really important. But I personally love working with a smaller, more intimate crew. Because of the time and safety restrictions, shooting during Covid feels a bit like shooting on film - everyone needs to be super dialed in, working hard to make sure each and every shot is the best it can be. In that way, I think these hard times can create a bond of trusting, intimate focus that we might not always achieve on bigger jobs.
When not shooting on set or remotely, I’m taking time to read, watch movies, be in nature, and write. I am developing two feature ideas and trying to shop another one. When the world is this unpredictable, it’s always important to concentrate on the things you can control!"
"I think the key to all of this is to remain positive. Being on set these days means a lot less crew members than we’re used to, so taking the time to budget for these new parameters to ensure everything is accomplished safely is really important. But I personally love working with a smaller, more intimate crew."
Fabrik: When you’re working as a director is there anything specific you look for in scripts or treatments?
Lauren Sick: "I look at scripts in two different ways. The first is assessing it the way you would any great story: Is it engrossing? Am I excited to see what happens next? Am I invested in the characters? Does the plot make sense? Does it move me or make me question something about the world? The second question I ask myself is can I see it? Can I visualize the words on the page and how I would approach the material? Does it elicit imagery that I can elevate and put my stamp on? How can I take all of the interlocking pieces to form a visual language?
This translates to music videos and commercials as well. What’s at the heart of this story, and how can I tell it within 60 seconds? What kind of narrative excites me the most, knowing I’ll be using this particular song as my score?"
Fabrik: Do you prefer studio or location shoots? And any reasons why that’s the case?
Lauren Sick: "I actually started my career in the art department, and although my earlier years were spent creating sets, I much prefer to work within an actual location and enhance it, versus trying to create an authentic look from scratch. You just can’t replicate some of the unique details you can find in the real world. Shooting on location can also inspire interesting blocking or camera positioning that you might not have thought about in a more controlled environment."
Fabrik: Have you ever had any difficulties pushing your creative and artistic approach to clients?
Lauren Sick: "The relationship with clients is (hopefully) a respectful and collaborative one. The best thing to remember when you have differing opinions is to pick your battles. It’s taken me a couple years to recognize, “Okay, if the agency art director really objects to some piece of wardrobe that isn’t vital to a character, I can change her top from purple to blue.” But when it comes to my cast, finding the right location, or fitting certain set-ups into our day, those are the things I will stand firm on. When you’re working with smart, experienced people, they will know that they hired you for a reason and trust the process."
Fabrik: Your work spans across music video, branded content and biopics. What are you most proud of in your career so far?
Lauren Sick: "I feel like the work I’m most proud of is yet to come! I’m always pushing myself to expand and push further with every new opportunity. Having that metaphorical carrot dangling in front of us at all times feels like the only way to survive a creative life. (For me anyway.) I live for the potential of what’s next."
Fabrik: Is there any piece of work, be it a film, a song, a painting, that has left you with a lasting impression or any mentors you have encountered throughout the span of your career? Or any work you admire, but it’s not yours?
Lauren Sick: "I watched The Shining at a sleepover party in 4th grade (my brilliant idea, much to the vexation of the parents of all girls involved) and I think it wormed its way forever into my subconscious. I am always drawn to and writing stories about paranoia, familial and relational strife, and slow descents into madness, laced with a dark comedic sensibility. There have been plenty of films that have influenced me (too long to list here), but I don’t think any other film hit me in quite the same way at such an impressionable age.
I’ve also always loved the work of Gregory Crewdson. His images have such a haunting quality with striking attention to art and production design. In terms of contemporaries, I think Jordan Peele is in a category all his own. Ari Aster is a wicked genius, anything Hiro Murai touches is gold, and I am dying to see the new film Zola from the phenomenal Janicza Bravo."
"I feel like the work I’m most proud of is yet to come! I’m always pushing myself to expand and push further with every new opportunity. Having that metaphorical carrot dangling in front of us at all times feels like the only way to survive a creative life. I live for the potential of what’s next."
Fabrik: Are there any related fields in the arts that you would like to explore or you are currently delving into?
Lauren Sick: "Just writing, re-writing, and more writing."
Fabrik: Any advice you’d like to impart to those entering the field?
Lauren Sick: "I think the best advice I can give (that I still need to give myself often) is don’t be afraid to fail. Know that nothing is perfect. Know that everything you set out to make will be slightly different from how you imagined it, often for the better. Remember that you work in a profession where people will always have a subjective opinion of your work, and there’s nothing you can do but put your best foot forward and have confidence in your own voice."
Fabrik: Final question: What do you like most about Fabrik? What's your favourite feature?
Lauren Sick: "I love how user-friendly the site is and the fact that all templates are customizable. I feel like the designers crafted something truly intuitive. And the customer support at Fabrik is insane! Always so responsive and helpful. It feels like they have a personal relationship with every one of their users. It’s a very cool community."
Lauren is using Tocuyo a theme for creatives that want to introduce themselves as well as their work. With optional Cover layouts Tocuyo becomes truly immersive with a full-screen hero, thumb grids and an inline About content.