2 Minutes With … Michael Washington, ECD at Invisible North

On 'Boom Boom Lemon' and the joy of D&D

Michael is currently executive creative director at Invisible North. With over a decade of experience, he has led featurettes, special shoots, teasers, social content and digital spots for dozens of entertainment marketing campaigns. Some of his projects include Rustin, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, The Matrix Resurrections and Sonic the Hedgehog 2.

We spent two minutes with Michael to learn more about his background, his creative inspirations and recent work he's admired.

Michael, tell us ...

Where you grew up and where you live now.

I grew up in Mason, Ohio, and have been living in Los Angeles for 12 years.

How you first realized you were creative.

I've always enjoyed drawing, writing and playing the piano. In a way, I never stop being creative, and I am lucky enough to have made a career out of it.

A person you idolized creatively early on.

When I was studying art in college, Piet Mondrian was a figure that always stood out to me. I found it fascinating how he searched for universal aesthetics by reducing his paintings over time to their essential visual elements. I wrote a thesis on his life and work, and I was able to see many of his paintings at MoMA when I visited New York. I found it so moving to be in the same physical space as these iconic works. 

A moment from high school or college that changed your life.

When I was in high school, I had a lot of moments where I was able to express myself, from shooting short comedy films with my friends to taking photography classes. But one moment that stands out was the first time I composed music for a school play. This was the first time something I wrote was played before an audience.

A visual artist or band/musician you admire.

Daft Punk is a favorite. I love their music and approach to craft, their precision and openness to trying new things. Also, their consistent theme of portraying these robots fascinated by human culture is something I still find fun and unique.

A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.

Oppenheimer was phenomenal. I was eager to see it because science—and physics, specifically—is an area I find myself drawn to. The film was emotional, powerful and thoroughly engaging. 

Your favorite fictional character.

I feel like I have a new favorite every day. But, a character I've always liked was Jack Skellington. I admire and relate to his passion to try new things and evolve as a person.

One of your favorite creative projects you've ever worked on.

It's a tie between "Déjà vu," a teaser I did for The Matrix Resurrections, and "Boom Boom Lemon," a social spot for the Netflix film Kate. Both of these projects are special to me for different reasons.

"Déjà vu" because the marketing for the The Matrix in 1999 inspired my interest in entertainment advertising. As a fan of the franchise, it was exciting to have the opportunity to be a creative lead on this legacy sequel. I felt so connected to the material that I ended up rolling up my sleeves and editing the teaser myself. I was beyond thrilled at the fan response.

"Boom Boom Lemon" was special because of the collaborative nature of the project and how much fun we all had. I love the different styles of advertising in Japan and enjoyed making this as authentic as possible. From the shoot I directed to working with Japanese translators and cultural consultants and my amazing team of designers and animators, it was a project that I can honestly say ended up exactly as I envisioned.

A recent project you're proud of. 

"Time Flies When You Play D&D." This was a labor of love, and seeing the fan response was incredible.

Someone else's work that inspired you years ago. 

The teaser for The Social Network. It's simple. It's captivating. I love the tagline. And, at the time, it immediately changed my perspective on what the movie was going to be.

Someone else's work you admired lately. 

"Qué Mirá Bobot." It was so clever and well-executed. 

Your main strength as a creative person.

Know-how. Having worn a lot of hats early on in my career, I have a strong sense of what it takes to do a lot of the hands-on work. I draw upon my experiences with editing, design,VFX, sound and copywriting to speak to my team in a way that comes from a place of understanding.

Your biggest weakness.

I have not done as much print-based work as I would like.

A mentor who helped you navigate the industry.

I was fortunate to have a post-production supervisor who helped me understand the importance of knowing one's financial worth. At the time, I had no knowledge of what day rate I should have, and he was kind enough to make sure I was fairly compensated.

How you're paying it forward with the next generation of creatives.

I want to ensure that people's voices are heard and that artists are respected for their time and contributions. There were times when I did not have that kind of support. As a leader, I make sure that other creatives feel valued. That means giving people shout-outs and recognition for their work or involving people in brainstorms who might otherwise not have that opportunity. I find this to be so important, especially when there are some efforts to remove the human aspect from the creative process for the sake of efficiency.

What you'd be doing if you weren't in advertising.

If I weren’t in advertising (or a media/film/creative-related field), I would be involved in something science-related.

2 Minutes With is our regular interview series where we chat with creatives about their backgrounds, creative inspirations, work they admire and more. For more about 2 Minutes With, or to be considered for the series, please get in touch.

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