Interview with Adrian Eppel

Interview by Jill Sioson

Writer, Director, Editor, and Cinematographer. Founder of AGrade Media.


Adrian Eppel is a self-motivated, opportunistic, story-teller; who is never not creating. His perseverance and optimistic outlook towards his craft and the industry leaves one inspired to pursue their own passions and to be reminded that “everything will work out in the end”. 


Tell me about yourself and what are you doing at the moment?

So I’m kind of a mix bag; I’m a writer, director, cinematographer, and colourist… but you know what they say, ‘a jack of all trades is a master of none’, so as of now I’m aiming to just focus on selling myself as an diretcor and colourist, and trying to hone those skills. Shooting will always be a skill I can rely on for work but I’d like to focus more on those two areas (director and colourist). I work freelance at the moment through the company I founded ‘AGrade Media’, which offers production and post-production services, in particular directing/producing, cinematography, colour and video editing


What’s a film/TV series you’ve come to enjoy recently and why?

A recent TV series I watched called ‘Barry’ it has the perfect blend of action, dark humour, comedy, and super messed up/intense scenes, all wrapped up in 30-minute episodes. It is superb storytelling!


What made you decide to pursue film?

I remember growing up watching Spielberg and Scorsese films and just being amazed at their ability to be able to transform me into a different world of heroes and villains and stunning locations. Their art of storytelling is truly spectacular.. But it was in year 9 when I was playing around with my dad’s Sony camcorder and started filming our travels and making them into mini videos. I made my first short that year and it involved Colombian drug lords (my mum haha) cops and lots of fake blood.


Was there someone in particular who inspired you?

There wasn’t really one person who inspired me to do film. I always had support and encouragement  from friends and family which I am so so grateful for, and I think I just enjoyed creating stories and the process itself. 


What was film school like for you?

I attended a film school in Holmesglen, which is kind of a smaller school. It’s not like VCA or anything but it was a good school. It built good foundations and exposed me to the industry. We got to borrow equipment and make something new almost every week. Although, I don’t think I needed to do it for three years, I really could’ve stopped at two, but I wouldn’t change it. 


Lately there’s been an influx of content creators due to platforms like YouTube and the access to affordable filming technologies- ie. shooting on the iPhone. Do you think it’s still necessary to go to film school to get into the industry?

Absolutely! I understand why people don’t think you need film school. There’s people from our small cohort that didn’t pursue a career in this industry, and I also know people who didn’t go to film school that are going great in the industry now. But you need to learn your theory… And yes, you can definitely learn how to edit or colour, or shoot nice compositions on YouTube- I still use it for work! Making aesthetic videos is one thing- and that’s fine if you want to do that- but creating a story that evokes emotion out of your audience is another, making something that will stand the test of time. 

That is not to say you need a teacher to learn the tools of the trade, real on-set experience is best for this. But ask any 20-year-old on set who Elia Kazan is and I bet you most wouldn’t have a clue. I mean, you have to study to become a doctor, so I don’t see why it’s any different for film. 


What was life like after film school, and how did you keep your creative spark alive? 

After film school, I actually took a gap year (or two) and just traveled- which I highly recommend. I think it’s very enriching to just go out there and see the world, hear other people’s stories, and experience how people live differently in other countries. For me, I knew film was always gonna be there, so I took my camera and basic gear and travelled. I also liked to journal during my travels. It allowed me to get out of my head space and write whatever came to mind. I also took inspiration from what I wrote. 

‘Day 32’ was a short post-apocalyptic, semi-sci-fi film which I wrote, directed, and filmed all by myself. I was in Spain doing volunteer work unrelated to film and was inspired to write and shoot the story within the time I was there. Although I travelled a lot, film was always there, it was always at the forefront of my mind.

Every month, my mates and I get together, have a few drinks and try to make a short film in just one night, from ideation to editing. Nothing serious, but it’s just a fun, casual way for us to constantly be creative.


Favourite project so far?

‘Compose Yourself’, which is my latest short film. It explores the topic of anxiety. It was one of my more personal films and something I felt compelled to do after seeing both myself and close friends go through tough times during lockdown and beyond.


What was it like trying to find your unique voice and style?

I really enjoyed sci-fi and westerns as a kid and even now, so they were always genres I wanted to voice my stories through. For me, the stories I tend to tell are simple human themes on an epic scale. Right now, I’m working on a Western involving aboriginal and western characters. It’s been tricky with ethics and trying to get permits, but a project like this will always require great care.

Something I also do is play music while colour grading, and letting those emotions that coincide with the tone to bleed into my work. This is a super fun exercise and my work only benefits from it.


What has been some milestones and setbacks you’ve experienced in the industry?

There were times I didn’t get a gig or job because someone else got it due to nepotism or the people they knew, which always sucks, but you just gotta persevere and continue to build good relationships wherever you go. Just continue to do the work and don’t burn any bridges! 


Any advice to students or people who want to get into the industry?

There will be times where you see your friends graduate and start their careers and lives while you have to go through a series of entry level jobs and free projects, but don’t panic. It’s kind of weird with the film industry because it’s almost the opposite of a normal academic trajectory. For example, students studying to become a doctor, are in uni for 6-7 years, but then have a sure path to a career and start work almost straight away. Film students, on the other hand, study for 2-3 years, but then have to take small steps and build networks before finding stability.  

My tips are: 

  1. Be patient
  2. Always keep making stuff
  3. Don’t be an a-hole
  4. Enjoy life away from film, don’t forget that exists too!

… And everything will work out!


Any Movie/show recommendations?

  • Better Call Saul- for colour and editing
  • The Florida Project – for acting and storytelling
  • Lord of the Rings- for everything in it! What a masterpiece of storytelling


What is your quote of the moment? 

“We don’t make movies to make more money. We make money to make more movies.”

  • Walt Disney


Where can we find you?

 Instagram (where most people find me)







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