Graduate Film student Bryan Fugal has already done more in the world of professional music video production than, well, many professionals his age. The Utah native and recipient of an Art Center MFA departmental scholarship recently wrapped up a video shoot for the Imagine Dragons‘ song, “Gold,” where he filled two roles: producer and first assistant director. It’s his second time working on a video for the band—and, he hopes, not his last. We asked him to tell us a little about the experience, the role of scholarships, and how Art Center did or didn’t prepare him for the gig.
Art Center: You now have two Imagine Dragons videos under your belt, “Demons” and, most recently, “Gold.” How did you end up working with the band?
Bryan Fugal: It started with my brother, Isaac Halasima. Before Imagine Dragons got big, he developed a relationship with them while making videos for up-and-coming bands he would meet in local venues. He eventually pitched his concept for “Demons” and they took a chance on him to direct. He brought me along to work on both videos. Another Art Center student, Aaron Stephenson, also worked on the “Gold” video as digital imaging technician.
AC: What were some of your responsibilities for the “Gold” shoot?
BF: One of the challenging parts of my job was to know what the director needed to achieve his vision. That involved, among other things, working with the band’s record label to develop a budget that would achieve the result the director wanted. This was in addition to my responsibilities as first assistant director, which included everything from developing a schedule for the one-day shoot to ensuring the safety and well-being of the band and crew.
AC: Any aspect of the job you enjoyed more than others?
BF: I enjoyed the challenge of keeping things on schedule and making the necessary adjustments to still finish on time. At one point due to unforeseen circumstances we were running several hours late while setting up the lighting rig for “Gold.” But I was able to make the necessary adjustments to still finish on time. Being able to keep to schedule is something I pride myself on.
AC: You earned a bachelor’s degree in production management for television and film before coming to Art Center. Why did you choose to study the business side of the industry before the creative side?
BF: Before I came to Art Center, I always made sure to ask successful people how they got to where they were and what they would do over again if they could. One of the things I heard most often was that if you want to work in the movie industry, think about studying business first. I think the combination of understanding the business and narrative sides of things has made for a well-rounded education. It’s allowed me to excel and enjoy different sides of filmmaking.
AC: You are a recipient of an Art Center MFA departmental scholarship. How has that contributed to your Art Center experience?
BF: It’s a huge motivational boost. It encourages me to create better work. It also gives me greater flexibility by freeing up some money that I can spend on projects. So, essentially, my scholarship support has translated into higher quality production.
AC: How did your Art Center experience better prepare you for the shoot?
BF: Art Center taught me to work hard and be confident in my abilities. Working on other students’ projects in a variety of roles has also given me more complete knowledge of different jobs on set. Having that knowledge, work ethic and confidence helped me get past insecurities I might have had about working on a professional project of that scale.
AC: Did working on “Gold” teach you anything that Art Center didn’t?
BF: Creating a production budget taught me not to sell myself or my crew short. They were all very talented people and they deserved to be paid a fair rate for their skills. Students are often so eager for work and money that they sell themselves short. That is fine while you’re building a body of work and a name for yourself, but eventually it’s important to learn to say “no” to job offers that don’t pay a rate that matches or appreciates your abilities.
AC: Any other surprises you weren’t anticipating?
BF: One big surprise—a good one—was how accommodating the band was. They are a really good group of guys. On top of loving what they do, they are really easy to work with and they are never divas. I would work with them again in a heartbeat.