Travis Andrade: “I think my job as a filmmaker is to be honest”

I think my job as a filmmaker is to be honest. That may sound obvious, but when you make a film it’s much harder to adhere to that principle than you’d think. A variety of things will try and get in your way. The biggest impact I can make as a writer/director is to try […]

Thrive Global invites voices from many spheres to share their perspectives on our Community platform. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and opinions expressed by Community contributors do not reflect the opinions of Thrive Global or its employees. More information on our Community guidelines is available here.

I think my job as a filmmaker is to be honest. That may sound obvious, but when you make a film it’s much harder to adhere to that principle than you’d think. A variety of things will try and get in your way. The biggest impact I can make as a writer/director is to try and tell the most human story I can.


As a part of our series about “Filmmakers Making A Social Impact” I had the pleasure of interviewing Director/Writer/Producer Travis Andrade who is an award-winning filmmaker whose short films have screened at international film festivals in North America, Europe and Australia. Early on in his career, Travis shot and directed awarding-winning branded content. Andrade’s music videos for the likes of Interscope and Virgin amassed tens of millions of hits and have been featured in numerous online publications. He directed a short documentary in Myanmar titled Children of the Peacock which was nominated for a Golden Frog at the 2013 Camerimage festival and currently has two feature films in development.


Thank you so much for doing this interview with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit. Can you share your “backstory” that brought you to this career?

My first job at fifteen or sixteen was at a local movie theater outside of Memphis, TN. I worked concessions, box office, cleaned the theaters, worked a bit up in projection… I loved it. I used to watch five minutes of a film here, ten minutes there. This is when a successful movie would stick around in theaters for months. It would get to the point where I could walk down a hallway, hear a couple of seconds of audio and know what scene was coming up. Still the best job I ever had!

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your filmmaking career?

Over ten years ago I was meeting some actors for a project and our casting director set us up with this gentleman in his fifties or so. He made a few comments about his decades-long career without speaking specifically about any one project. For some reason, I was under the impression he had a theater background. When I inquired about it, he sort of paused and said, “Wow, you’re really fucking young aren’t ya?” I went ghost white. He laughed, shook my hand, said “good luck kid,” thanked me for the meeting and left. It was Bo Duke, one of the leads from The Dukes of Hazzard TV show. A top-rated show in the late 70’s. Even if you didn’t watch the show, if you were born in the 20th century and living in America you were aware of it. Bo Duke made me feel like a little boy that day and I totally deserved it.

Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

Back when I was in college I worked on a handful of music videos and commercials as a production assistant. On the second or third shoot a super accomplished cinematographer from LA rolled onto set. This guy shot a bunch of iconic 90’s music videos that I loved. He was a big deal. He worked with huge directors and was sort of like a rockstar Director of Photography. I remember being intimidated by him. I finally worked up the nerve to approach him and introduce myself. He turned out to be this humble, self-deprecating type of guy who was affable and kind of fascinating. He told me to call him when I was out in LA and “we’ll see” about getting me on set. I thought, “wow!” I was blown away that he gave me the time of day. It felt incredible. I made this huge connection, right? I kept his business card in my wallet right behind my license for at least two years. When I finally moved to LA after college I pulled out his contact and cold-called him. He had no idea who I was, ha!

I ran into him a couple of years later, introduced myself as if we were meeting for the first time and had a conversation much like we had on set that day way back when. So, in a way things came full circle, right?

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I have a couple of feature films in development.

Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?

History nerd here. I’m going to make a brave choice and default to the usual suspects. FDR, JFK, MLK. Great American icons. Where would we be without their speeches? Their words are timeless and as relevant as ever.

Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview, how are you using your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting social impact causes you are working on right now?

I think my job as a filmmaker is to be honest. That may sound obvious, but when you make a film it’s much harder to adhere to that principle than you’d think. A variety of things will try and get in your way. The biggest impact I can make as a writer/director is to try and tell the most human story I can.

Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and take action for this cause? What was that final trigger?

In my case, there wasn’t anyone “Aha moment.” My film Wesley is about a kid immersed in gun culture. This is a topic as American as apple pie. I’ve been fascinated with the subject for as long as I can remember. I’ve lived in a few different regions of the country and have seen different aspects of this pervasive culture firsthand. There’s a lot to unpack, i.e., the historical implications of gun culture in America, corporate interests and the politics of today, etc. Ultimately, I felt like I had something to contribute to the conversation which was to make a film about how a kid might perceive the whole situation. Again, it’s just about being honest.

Are there three things that individuals, society or the government can do to support you in this effort?

Go to wesleyfilm.com and find out if the film is playing at a festival near you (kidding, the festivals are all online thanks to COVID). Read The Hidden History of Guns and the Second Amendment by Thom Hartman, it’s an all-encompassing, mind-blowing, reality check. Google “active shooter drills in schools” and educate yourself on what kids are going through today.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

Filmmaker advice: Write what you know. Commit to your vision. Prepare. Embrace collaboration. Learn to adapt.

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

As we get older the vast majority of us become more rigid, more set in our ways. We need young people to defy convention. We need them to “think outside the box.” Sure, sometimes it’s messy, it’s disruptive, but it’s essential.

We are very blessed that many other Social Impact Heroes read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would like to collaborate with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂

Boyan Slat who runs TheOceanCleanup is in his mid twenties and attempting to clean our oceans with these ambitious, incredibly innovative systems he’s invented. The guy is a hero.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Overthinking, overanalyzing separates the body from the mind.” You can extrapolate a lot from that, but for me it means “be in the moment.”

How can our readers follow you online?

travisandrade.com. I’m trying to use social media more, but it’s been a difficult relationship, ha! Twitter @Travis62r Instagram @travisandrade

This was great, thank you so much for sharing your story and doing this with us. We wish you continued success.

    Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

    You might also like...

    Community//

    Richard B. Pierre of Afro Flix: “Don’t try and make a great film”

    by Edward Sylvan
    Community//

    Matt Beurois: “Define what you show to others”

    by Jason Hartman
    Community//

    “Have short term, not just long term goals”, With filmmaker and actress Dana Marisa Schoenfeld

    by Yitzi Weiner
    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.