Director, Stink Los Angeles | Age: 24

Will Mayer’s background in documentary and sports has informed his approach and style throughout his work. “By cultivating narratives while still searching for the subtle, overlooked moments, you end up finding these sometimes surprising universal elements that elevate the entire piece,” he notes. “I also believe my approach was heavily influenced by the loss of my father when I was just 12. It’s also the loss of a mentor, someone who helps you grapple with the big questions. My work is very much concerned with those questions, and in navigating the unknown with honesty and emotional integrity.” 

Mayer coped with that loss by pouring “every ounce of angst I had into making skate videos with my friends.” That led to working with Vans Shoes when he was 14 (“something they didn’t know at the time”). He talked his way into shooting the Vans Warped Tour, creating mini-docs and bios on athletes. His big break came during his senior year of high school when Vans offered him an opportunity to move to Los Angeles. “I graduated early, packed a van, and took off,” he recalls. “I ended up sleeping in my van for a few months. I never really had an end goal. I just knew I loved finding these moments and creating films.”  Through Vans, he met director Eliot Rausch, “who opened my eyes to what it really meant to be a director. He brought me on to shoot some personal projects as a DP and was a huge source of knowledge. I had never really seen directing as something I could dedicate my life to until then.” 

Now based in Los Angeles, Mayers’ reel includes projects for Vans, Google, Gatorade, Samsung, Skoda and Under Armour. He collaborated with Wieden+Kennedy Portland on Samsung’s Russell Westbrook commercial, shot an upcoming feature-length documentary about the life of snowboarder Shaun White, and a music video for BadBadNotGood’s I Don’t Know featuring Samuel T. Herring, where he “was trying to approach the narrative of grief in a fresh conceptual way that felt in line with the song. I often think of Darwin reflecting on evolution; it’s not the strongest or the most intelligent that survive; it’s those who are the most responsive to change. As new mediums and new approaches start trickling into the industry I look forward to experimenting and challenging myself. Never fighting against change but working alongside it to cultivate new ways to tell new stories.”