There’s a sweet spot at the crossroads of food and pop culture. A nexus where bold ideas are king and creativity rules. Put creative taste and actual taste together and good things happen. This is what David Ma and his team of young and ambitious filmmakers thought when they tackled the crossroads where flavor meets film. The results are a vastly entertaining take on modern food porn.
Ma spent years working in food through styling and branding before he stepped out to become a commercial director. A focus and love of food remained through his career changes. Like us, Ma spends a lot of time looking at food online — absorbing what’s fresh and what’s stale. This love of food presentation led Ma to a sizzling hot idea, “What if famous movie directors made food videos?”
Ma assembled a team of like-minded filmmakers and a month later they had four shorts posted up on YouTube — a testament to ingenuity, ambition, and risk. We sat down with the visionary creative to talk about food, films, and how the two mediums collide. It’s a story about bold risks. It’s a story about setting your own path. In the end, it’s a story about a family (of hungry filmmakers) following their dreams.
Let’s start with the job title ‘food artist.’ How do you become a food artist?
You know, I don’t know. I put that in my Instagram bio. My dad still doesn’t know what that means. And I’m still figuring it out. As a food artist, I work with a lot of brands that to make social content or food commercials or installation pieces. They come to me to create projects for their brand that aren’t conventional. They’ll give me a brief and say, “Hey can you make something out of this?” Then I’ll come back with some ideas.
Did you ever work in a kitchen?
I’ve never worked as a chef. I consider myself a pretty decent home cook, but I fell into food kind of by accident. I was just putting really shitty photos of my pictures on Instagram and making original recipes. Then I got published in a few ‘Top 10 Foodies You Need to Follow.’
Where were you working when all this was starting?
I used to work in advertising as a copywriter. We were often short on set for these social food related shoots. I learned food styling just so we could get the shots we needed to look right. I Googled a bunch and assisted some stylists outside of work and found that it was really interesting. I really enjoyed the process of being responsible for making the food look good. I loved using tweezers to move chives on a plate and all that stuff. It let me explore a visual side that I’ve always enjoyed.
Do you have a film background?
You know, I’ve always been a film nerd I guess. Not a film nerd, I’ve just always enjoyed watching movies.
You’re a ‘cinephile.’
Yes. That’s right. I never went to film school. I went to art school in Atlanta, Georgia. I’ve always just enjoyed art and movies. I’ve watched a ton of movies. I really enjoy taking things that I see directors doing and applying them to places where they wouldn’t be expected — like in the food world.