Muriel Naim is a director & writer of film, television and theatre, emerging from Tel-Aviv's Art scene. She currently lives & works in Los Angeles. Muriel graduated with honors from Thelma Yellin School of Arts, where she mentored under Israeli-Lithuanian theater director Arthur Kogan. At the age of 18, her theater production "Jubilee" — was selected to be presented at the National Theatre. While studying in the MFA Film Directing program at CalArts, Naim wrote, directed and shot the five-minute short JAVIER. The film was selected to open the 2016 Annual Film Directors Showcase at REDCAT, and has since been distributed to several international companies. She recently graduated from the Directing program at the AFI Conservatory, where she was awarded the Irwin & Sheila Allen Scholarship and mentored under Oscar-winning Director/Writer Asghar Farhadi. Her most recent film, Janek/Bastard opened in several theatres across the U.S., and won her a Directing award in Bali Film Festival. Muriel's films & artefacts delve into the cores of the human condition, explore taboo, emotion and transgression through visceral storytelling, and evoke the classical narrative structure.
What do you love most about Your City?
My native city is Tel Aviv. But my current city is Los Angeles, for the past 4 years. LA is one of the most peculiar places you’ll find in the world. It has everything & nothing. And it’s weird as f***.
I love that within a 20 minutes’ drive you can get from a cocky Hollywood Hills gala to gritty DTLA, with its dirt, NYC look-alikeness & high – low mix. You can jump from a hipster underground party in Silverlake to an over-the-top gay parade in WeHo, then walk barefoot on weed-scented Venice beach. It’s eclectic. And there’s this crazy drive here. I don’t think you can get this drive anywhere else. Everyone has some kind of an obscure dream. Some dreams are totally outrageous, some extra specific and thorough. You get used to it. Also to the fact that if you make an impact here, it goes everywhere. But yeah, the drive. I love the LA drive.
Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant?
That means 2 different things; My morning “breakfast” routine is a hot Americano at Kaldi Coffee & a chocolate croissant from Proof Bakery across the street. Best coffee, best croissant. My top weekend spot for breakfast in LA is Sqirl. Full-stop. Especially their sorrel Pesto bowl & that crazily delicious baked French Toast. It’s a mystery to me how delicious their food always is. If not clear by now, I’m totally an East-side fan :)
What are you doing at:
6:00 AM – Nice one.
10:00 AM – Waking up. Maybe a little earlier. Then it splits into 3 different types of mornings;
1 - Most days, I drive to HopSkipDrive in DTLA where I’m Director of Creative content & UX.
2 - Other days, I’m grabbing coffee somewhere and staring at people. Or dogs. Or babies. For a long while. I’m fascinated with humans & creatures & interactions of all kinds. Then I’m peeking at the 25,588 emails I need to respond to, answering a few. Then I’m cleaning my desk obsessively. Then I’m writing.
3 - If shooting / filming something, by 10 o’clock I’m already awake since very very early, probably drinking my 3rd coffee, walking around set like a weirdo and writing illegibly in my notebook.
12:00 PM - Favorite Lunch spot/meal?
I love good food. Recently I can’t get enough of KazuNori in downtown. They have the best fresh handrolls you can get. Another amazing spot is this small Mexican restaurant, La Abeja, in Cypress park. Their mole burrito is crazy good. A favorite spot is really hard to pick. I’d go with all of the above and add Olive & Thyme’s Caesar Salad.
7:00 PM - Back home most days, cooking. I cook a lot of Italian, but sometimes also French and Israeli food. Sometimes it’s my only time for meetings towards a next film / art project, so I’ll go somewhere like Speranza / Blossom / Stella and eat and drink and talk.
On other evenings I’m going to BAFTA screenings, events or film festivals. Sometimes it turns to be my own project up on the screen, and that can be quite weird. I find it really hard to watch your own work. Painful at times. My evenings are always over-packed. But I like it that way.
11:00 PM – That’s when my ideas start kicking. If I’m working on something – script, essay, proposal, pitch; that’s my go-to power hour. I make tea every half an hour and write till the morning. I’m a night owl, from a very young age. 11PM – 4AM are (still) my most productive/creative hours. I also really like drinking (responsibly). It splits into 3 again :)
Whiskeys when I want to concentrate; Beers when I’m out with close friends; Wines when I feel fancy or intimate or both. It allows me to turn off some mechanisms, shut off walls.
Can I add 2AM a well?
2:00 AM I play very late at night sometimes, and very quietly. Either on my sax or on my old acoustic guitar. It calms me down.
What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?
Coffee, duh. (But like, really good coffee). I also love coconut water. I do feel guilty for both.
But I like it and life is short and LA is weird so I’m allowed!
Night-time is for drinks. I’m never getting drunk and I never get hangovers. I love single-malt Whiskeys, but my true love is good wines. It’s a long-lasting relationship I developed from a (very) young age. I think my dad first let me taste a sip of French wine when I was 3 years old and since then I’m totally hooked.
Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?
I LOVE Google calendar. What a wonderful app.
Seriously. Overpopulating my calendar is a real obsession. People think I’m super organized but it’s really the opposite. I’m super head-in-the-clouds, talking to myself, astronaut as my mom still calls me. So if something is not in my calendar it just doesn’t exist. It’s not personal, I simply won’t remember it. My friends can relate (they clearly hate it). But I also like traveling through Instagram and YouTube and Pinterest late at night. You find the weirdest shit in there. Lastly - Miranda. It’s this simplistic app for calculating hours in different places around the globe. My very best friends live all over the place, as well as my family (Israel), so I like jumping on it to know their current hour and maybe surprise them with an awkward message that includes my face. Or a random dog.
What should everyone try at least once?
Travel alone in Europe. Write someone they love a hand-written letter. Write a poem.
Feel too much.
Where do you enjoy getting lost?
It’s the most solitude you’ll ever get. The sounds, your brain, your body. Everything shifts, and nobody’s looking at you. I used to get lost swimming since I was a kid. Also, walking in a country I don’t know the language of, with no devices, no tools. Being a complete stranger. It’s perfect.