Kensho at the Bedfellow
1) What was your first professionally directed work and when was it?
My first professional gig as writer/director was a micro-budget feature called Kensho at the Bedfellow, an existential drama about a guy in NYC searching for fulfillment in all the wrong places. After winning a few festivals and being selected as the inaugural film of the Rubin Museum’s “Brainwave: Perception” series, we released domestically in 2017 and are now moving into international distribution.
2) How did you get into directing?
I’ve been obsessed with film my whole life, but getting ahold of a camcorder when I was a kid was a real game-changer. I’d shoot video with my friends or family on 1/2 inch VHS tape and edit on two VCRs with a mess of RCA cables and a lot of jury rigging. Later, I’d lay down music from my favorite film scores and have private screenings.
3) What is your most recent project?
I recently shot a spec commercial for Instagram that explores the responsibility and inspirational power of social media. We follow a young woman at the March For Our Lives rally in LA as she engages with the platform (and the world) with authenticity and in a socially relevant way.
4) What is the best part of being a director?
The best part of directing is when any small element of the filmmaking process reveals a glimpse of your larger vision and the potential of a finished film. It could be a casting choice, a rehearsal, a location or shot that you’ve had in your head for years, inspiration from someone on your team, a happy accident while filming, an editorial decision … when a moment or idea syncs up and rings undeniably true to the world that you’re creating in collaboration with hundreds of others, it’s incredibly satisfying.
5) What is the worst part of being a director?
The first rough-cut.
6) What is your current career focus: commercials and branded content, TV movies? Do you plan to specialize in a particular genre—comedy, drama, visual effects, etc.?
I love it all, though I have a healthy preference for movies.
7) Have you a mentor and if so, who is that person (or persons) and what has been the lesson learned from that mentoring which resonates with you?
As an actor, I’ve been lucky to work with a lot of amazing directors. One thread that’s been reinforced in front and behind the camera is developing a trust and camaraderie between actor and director. Creating an atmosphere of fearlessness is key for exploration and experimentation. Actors need to feel safe and confident in order to be relaxed, take risks, and do their best work. That trust is cultivated in rehearsal and on set by a good director.
8) Who is your favorite director and why?
It’s next to impossible to choose just one but I’ve narrowed it down to Kubrick, Spielberg, Scorsese, Iñárritu, Fincher, Nolan, PTA, McQueen, Jonze, Cuarón, Crowe, Bigelow, Aronofsky, the Hughes Brothers, the Coen Brothers, Abrams, Wright, Villeneuve, Zemeckis, Capra, and both Coppolas. But, again — really hard!
9) What is your favorite movie? Your favorite television/online program? Your favorite commercial or branded content?
My go-to favorite film is always going to be the 1978 Richard Donner Superman because it really was the catalyst for my life path as a filmmaker. Seeing that movie at a young age started it all.
10) Tell us about your background (i.e., where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
I was born and raised in Philadelphia, and studied film and theatre at NYU, training at the Experimental Theatre Wing and with Anne Bogart’s SITI Company. Among my favorite of roughly 50 stage productions was a one-man-show I performed about the life and films of Frank Capra. The Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Arts and the Jewish Federation’s Directing Master Class in Tel Aviv were also important hallmarks, as was travel to Africa, India, and Bali in recent years.
Life in Los Angeles has included co-founding a theatre company with fellow NYU alum James Roday and acting credits including indie features and series regular roles on several network pilots and short-lived series. Recent guest-starring roles have included Santa Clarita Diet, Better Off Ted, Psych, Jericho, and CSI:NY.
On both coasts, I’ve also been teaching the subtle art and science of meditation through MDT8, a company I founded in 2012.
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