film & television director
I'm a freelance film and television director based in Cologne, Germany. Originally hailing from the Southeastern US, I enjoy tacos, coffee with notes of red berry, kettlebell workouts, and sweating it out in a good Aufguss. My background is deeply rooted in the performing arts. I trained extensively in the American acting tradition and studied voice work at The Linklater Center. I was a professional dancer and received my BFA from The Juilliard School in New York City. My performing career allowed me to see the world and perform on some of its most premier stages.I earned a master's degree from the Kunsthochschule für Medien Köln where my focus was narrative film directing. I've been making and delivering films for nearly two decades. I've worked closely with massive global brands to tell intimate stories of compassion and hope. I've told small familial dramas that have had a big impact, becoming part of educational curricula on teaching adolescents how to deal with domestic abuse. Most recently, I helped Germany's largest public network develop a new infotainment format, a fictional television series that is jam-packed with science. And in 2020, I received the Film und Medienstiftung NRW screenplay grant for a feature film "Seeking Semi".I love exploring unfamiliar places, seeking out new noise, and conversing with those who see the world differently from me. I'm always on the lookout for challenging projects and new collaborators. If you want to make compelling films that connect with diverse audiences in a visceral and emotional way, feel free to reach out to me. I'm always up for a good conversation.
Welcome! The reel above is a selection from some of my narrative work, designed to highlight what I believe makes a scene truly compelling. The four selected scenes encapsulate elements I hold dear—discernible dramatic arcs, captivating yet nuanced performances, and complex characters that transform. One unique inclusion is an excerpt from an experimental dance film, a genre-blurring piece that demonstrates how abstract movement can synergize with camera work and editing to elevate emotional journeys and even drive narrative. I hope this piques your interest—enjoy!
Quarks Science Cops (WDR)
When the editors at WDR Quarks approached me to develop a video adaptation for their hit podcast "Science Cops," I was immediately intrigued. This podcast, a sharp and humorous foray into the debunking of pseudoscience, had gained prominence during the global pandemic, serving as a beacon of clarity amidst widespread misinformation.My initial interaction with the podcast creators, Max and Jonathan, was during a live recording session. Their charisma and inherent knack for performance were evident. Given my forte in narrative drama, I saw an opportunity to meld education with entertainment. The goal? Craft a series where viewers could learn while being engrossed in a narrative plot.Our journey began in a classical writer's room. We molded their real-life personas into dramatized on-screen characters, amplifying their quirks and strengths to introduce added layers of tension and conflict. We wrote and shot a test pilot, which gave way to a series pilot, and we were subsequently awarded funding from the WDR 'Verjüngungstopf', a grant given directly by the head of the network. This allowed us to fully realize our vision for the series. It was a dream project in that I got to work as the show's co-creator, showrunner, and director for all six episodes, delivering over 120 minutes of engaging content.Each episode is a standalone story, but they are also seamlessly connected through a season arc, showcasing the characters' growth and evolution.Series Premise"Science Cops" offers a humorous lens into the lives of two fervent science journalists, Max (portrayed by Maximilian Doeckel) and Jonathan (embodied by Jonathan Focke). Together, they are on a relentless mission— to protect the masses from the rampant misinformation and pseudoscience with their celebrated podcast. However, their unorthodox methods and unbridled enthusiasm often land them in hot water with their ever-watchful boss, Andy (played by Aysha Samuel).Each episode sees Max and Jonathan defending their unique investigative techniques while simultaneously debunking scientific myths. This series provides an exaggerated, fictional glimpse behind the scenes of the acclaimed "Science Cops" podcast, making for a comedic exploration into the world of debunking and the trials and tribulations accompanying it.
mamma mila me
Mamma Mila Me is my graduation film from Kunsthochschule für Medien Köln, and it had the honor of premiering at the renowned 2019 Hofer Filmtage in Germany. This film was born from my aspiration to craft something deeply personal, while also spotlighting my love for collaborating with actors, both young and old, and my approach to using the camera to heighten the intensity of performances.The narrative unfolds through the eyes of Vincent, the eldest child in a traditional family. He grows up amidst an ever-present tension, a direct result of his father's volatile nature and emotional abuse. For Vincent, these strains have become almost a mundane part of daily life. His mother, in her resilience, tries to keep a facade of normalcy. Yet, when the father's fury is unleashed upon Vincent's younger sister and their babysitter, Vincent finds his voice, standing firmly with his mother to confront and challenge the established order.Director, Writer, and Editor: Brock Labrenz; Director of Photography: Alexander Pauckner; Production Design: Caterina Ruzzante; Actors: Samuel Pesch, Mirka Ritter, Knud Riepen, Gray Thomas, Erna Imelda Runge, and Moritz Führmann; Set Decoration: Marin Fanjoy-Labrenz; Music: Yan Fiorello; Assistant Director: Simon Baucks; Sound: Tim Stephan, Boris Maximov; Color Correction: Can Köprülü, Alexander Pauckner; Sound Design: Daniel Paulmann; Sound Mixing: Ralf Schipke; Production Manager: Avesta Roknabadi; Production: Kunsthochschule für Medien Köln, Brock Labrenz, and Alexander Pauckner.
nine months down
Above is the teaser for a yet to be produced 30 minute short film, written by Manuel Moreno, entitled Nine Months Down. The film is a psychological thriller about a woman lost in a rabbit hole of terrifying prenatal paranoia. As the birth of her first child looms, medical disregard, misdiagnosis and black magic feed a dark suspicion inside Racheal that something is not right. Distrusting doctors, her husband and even herself, Racheal turns to a forgotten friend in a desperate final plea for help as she fights against her own body to ward off the inevitable.
any other normal
Any Other Normal offers an intimate exploration of the lives of Julia, a traveling therapist, and Melissa, a theology professor. As both women confront feelings of loneliness and longing, Julia forms a close bond with a student, while Melissa deepens her connection with a patient. This results in unexpected relationships and shifting roles. This 52-minute independent feature offers glimpses into delicate moments of intimacy with minimal context, urging viewers to draw their own conclusions.The idea behind Any Other Normal arose from a compelling question: could we simultaneously develop, script, and shoot a film? Collaborating with producers Natalie Thomas and April Sweeney, we set out to challenge conventional filmmaking norms. While I took the helm as the writer, director, and cinematographer, Natalie and April wore multiple hats. Not only were they essential as producers, but they also shone as lead actors, and when the scene required, they adeptly stepped into key technical roles such as sound mixing. Our production method was unique: within 3-hour blocks, we'd improvise on selected themes, solidify a scene, finalize camera movement, and then capture the moment. This distinctive approach was heavily influenced by dance-based improvisation, stemming from my background in dance. With a tight-knit production crew, every member, be it actor or technician, was deeply invested in the narrative's core. This project was profoundly formative for me and has influenced how I strive to involve all levels of production in the storytelling process.
Above is a portrait I made of Jesse Frederick, a remarkable woman who holds a cherished place in my family. In the 1950s and 60s, she served as a devoted nanny to my maternal grandparents' five children and, later, to me.On a trip to North Carolina, I felt a pull to reconnect with Jesse. I called her up and asked if I could come over for a visit. The outcome is this brief yet moving film that captures the boundless love Jesse generously shared with the world. I hope you'll enjoy hearing about her as much as I do. The warmth in her voice is rivaled only by the comfort of her hugs.
sing for hope
Commissioned by Sing for Hope, I had the privilege of directing and producing this evocative lyrical documentary that captures the transformative impact of public art. Through an ambitious project funded by public donations, we chronicled the journey of assembling, refurbishing, and commissioning local artists to breathe life into 88 pianos, which were subsequently placed across all five boroughs of New York.Throughout the summer, my team and I were on a mission: to visit these pianos scattered around the city and simply observe. The results were mesmerizing. We witnessed firsthand the sheer magic that ensues when art meets community — strangers connecting, melodies intertwining, and rejuvenating public space. A highlight of the documentary is its unique score, which is not a studio production but a serendipitous live stereo recording. On one of our visits, we stumbled upon a jazz band spontaneously using one of these public pianos for their practice. Their melodies filled the air and naturally drew an impromptu audience. It also happened to be the day our sound guy was testing out a new microphone array, this happy accident, brimming with authentic vibes and raw energy, became the film's musical backdrop.The heart of this documentary lies in its portrayal of both art and humanity. The camera work is composed and deliberate, yet the content unscripted and free. It showcases the importance of community and the cherished memories that sprout from shared experiences. This film is a tribute to Sing for Hope's ethos—an organization staunchly committed to harnessing the uniting power of art. It was a profound honor to document such a remarkable public art initiative.
in paradisum - bora yoon
Above is a link to a cherished collaboration I had the privilege of creating with the extraordinarily talented Bora Yoon. The piece, In Paradisum, is from her album Sunken Cathedral. In directing this music video, my primary intention was to let the music take center stage. I aimed to craft a visual backdrop that acted as a vessel, letting the music shape and guide one's journey. Instead of prescribing a specific visual story for the music, we let Bora's presence shape and interpret the environments, allowing the music space to breathe and thrive, pulling the viewer deeper into the soundscape.This film engages not merely through visuals but, more deeply, through sound. It's Bora's act of listening that becomes the lens through which we too engage. The viewer is transported into varied realms of color and texture, punctuated by moments of harmonious voice and reimagined, repurposed instruments — reminiscent of how the track revives decades-old tape recordings. Here, the narrative isn't directly spelled out; it's instead intuitively felt, bridging echoes of the past with an embrace of the present.
you can have me back - pretty wilds
Above is a film I created for 'Pretty Wilds,' an LA-based producer/songwriter duo comprised of Jordan Miller and Jason Bell. This isn't a conventional music video. What sets this film apart is its raw authenticity: It was filmed during the actual recording of their track, 'You Can Have Me Back.' A crew of one, I chose an approach that would spotlight Jordan and Jason's artistry. Projects like this resonate deeply with me, channeling skills from my dancing days—specifically, the ability to remain completely present and open to capturing 'happy accidents.' One standout moment for me is the extreme close-up of Jordan's lips, in silhouette, as he sings the line 'darkness, you can have me back' for the first time. To me, it's magical. These intimate projects serve as a blueprint for my approach to larger productions, where careful planning allows for spontaneous, magical moments to unfold. Enjoy this glimpse into the creative process of 'Pretty Wilds.'
nowhere and everywhere at the same time
Above is a teaser film I crafted for the performance installation piece, Nowhere and Everywhere at the Same Time, conceived by William Forsythe. Captured live at the Taipei Arts Festival, this succinct film distills the ambiance, elements, and physical voyage of the expansive four-hour work into just a few minutes.I first performed this piece nearly two decades ago, set within the raw confines of an abandoned chicken processing facility on the corner of Gansevoort Street and Washington in New York City's West Village. My journey with the work then continued as I performed various renditions across North America, Asia, and Europe. Ultimately it was installed at the Venice Biennale 2012. To me, this piece epitomizes contemporary dance: an unwavering commitment to being intensely present, an insatiable physical curiosity, and a trust in the body's capacity to continuously rediscover, explore, and shape our experience of the world.
Above is a link to a dance film I produced and directed, further delving into my exploration of using abstract movement to create nonverbal narratives. Set within an ethereal realm, six dancers harness heightened physicality as relationships continuously evolve, devolve, and cycle anew. Jointly choreographed with Stuart Loungway, this piece prominently showcases the exceptional prowess of Terra Firma Dance Theatre's dancers, with an intimacy that is simply not possible through a classical proscenium.