1) How did you get into directing?
I have always been religious about movies. When I was a tiny tyke, I staged a live adaptation/re-imagining of Hook in my living room – I starred as Pan and forced my older brother Tyler (now my filmmaking partner/producer) to play every other part and work the camcorder. I guess that was my directorial debut; not much has changed since.
2) What is your most recent project?
I recently directed a cheeky children’s musical for Wellpoint through Rokkan NY called ‘The ABCs of Disease’ – an elementary school play/extravaganza about infectious illnesses. We tried to channel All That Jazz (maximum Mylar usage) and Busby Berkeley (glitzy top shot) but mostly it’s just cute singing kids dressed up as tapeworms and bacteria. I also just wrote and directed a short film called Four Eyes: a zany puberty comedy with a timeless American suburbia tinge. It’s an intensely personal project about eyeglasses, girlie mags, and getting conked in the face with a pop fly. It is very much on the Internet right now for you to watch.
3) What is the best part of being a director?
Sketching crude storyboards is my favorite part of being a director. It forces me to confront my own limitations in drawing humans standing sideways.
4) What is the worst part of being a director?
The worst part for me is bidding farewell to a project that I’ve become completely obsessed with and totally consumed by. Emerging from the cavernous creative cocoon of making a movie and entering back into the harsh brightness of the real world is always a rather large bummer.
5) What is your current career focus: commercials & branded content, TV, movies? Do you plan to specialize in a particular genre—comedy, drama, visual effects, etc.?
I’d like to make comedies of all shapes and sizes that have a distinct visual style and a lot of heart. Work that showcases a significant level of artifice and while still maintaining a sincere emotional base. Above all, though, I hope to make movies – commercials, branded content, series, features, spectaculars, nude snapchats, etc. – that appeal to the mass audience.
6) 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 most with you?
Kevin Byrne, my old man, is the managing partner/EP at Hungry Man. I aspire to emulate his famously relentless work ethic and encyclopedic knowledge of the craft. Along with many other lessons, he taught me that studying Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure is just as important as studying 8½.
7) Who is your favorite director and why?
Among countless others, I love Billy Wilder, Powell & Pressburger, Scorsese, Nicholas Ray, Frank Tashlin, and the holy Ernst Lubitsch.
8) What is your favorite movie? Your favorite commercial or branded content?
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery is my go-to top flick; it significantly inspired a bespectacled, kinky-haired 7-year-old me to embrace my true inner mojo. And Bryan Buckley’s seminal Monster.com “When I Grow Up” spot remains to me the gold standard of filmed advertising.
9) Tell use about your background (i.e. Where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
I was reared by two native New Yorkers in the wonderlands of suburban Jersey. There, my brother Tyler and I spent our boyhood watching tons of movies and roughhousing on the lawn. Later, we both studied film at Wesleyan University under Jeanine Basinger. Nowadays we make movies together in NYC.