1) What was your first professionally directed work and when was it?
My first true dive into directing was with my short film, Girl Night Stand. I created the short as a proof of concept for my feature, Lez Bomb. I released the short film online in order to demonstrate there was an audience for Lez Bomb. The 9-minute short film has since garnered over 3 million views between YouTube and Vimeo. Each platform provides analytics, which has provided amazing information about where the audience lives online and how to reach them. We shot Girl Night Stand at the end of 2015 with no money; it’s been one of the most rewarding things I’ve done.
2) How did you get into directing?
I went to Carnegie Mellon University and received a BHA in Drama and English, with a focus in directing and creative writing. However, my interest in directing started back in high school. I carried a video camera around with me my entire senior year filming all my friends and our shenanigans. I then edited that down to a 2-hour movie and threw a party and screening of it after graduation. My friends are terrified of that footage surfacing. Even back in high school I was always looking to capture the funny moments.
3) What is your most recent project?
My most recent project is my feature film, Lez Bomb, executive produced by Bobby Farrelly (Dumber & Dumber, Something About Mary). The ensemble comedy stars Cloris Leachman, Bruce Dern, Kevin Pollak, Steve Guttenberg, Elaine Hendrix, Rob Moran, Deirdre O’Connell, Brandon Micheal Hall, Caitlin Mehner, and myself. I wrote and directed the script; it took a near 8 years to make, from first draft to movie. It was an incredible experience from start to finish. Lez Bomb just had its world premiere at Geena Davis’ Bentonville Film Festival, and it won the best narrative film jury award.
4) What is the best part of being a director?
The teamwork. I love working with an inspired and enthusiastic team and seeing something that was an idea, take shape. Slowly but surely the collaboration of ideas starts to take form and it’s amazing what happens when various imaginations come together to collaborate and create. I really love the balance involved in walking the tightrope of staying open to ideas but firm in intention. I also love the rush involved when you solve something that seemed impossible given some limitation, ie budget, location, etc.
5) What is the worst part of being a director?
The worst part about directing is when the production comes to an end. I went to summer camp, and when production ends, it feels like the last day of camp. You go through this incredible experience with all these people, meeting amazing people, hopefully creating something everyone’s proud of, and then it comes to an end and you part ways.
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’m currently in the process of packaging my next feature film. It’s also a comedy. What can I say, I like to laugh! I love exploring tough subject matter through a comedic lens. I believe comedy provides an access point to relate to things we universally struggle with. I’m also very interested in commercials and branded content. What my short film Girl Night Stand taught me was how effective it is to create a piece of content with a specific audience in mind. Whether it’s a movie or a 30 second spot, it’s important to ask from the start, “Who am I speaking to, what am I trying to say, and is it as clear as possible?” Then stay focused on that intention from start to finish.
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?
Bobby Farrelly has become an incredible mentor. During the edit of Lez Bomb he spent a generous amount of time with me and my editor, Bill Saunders. He taught me so much about timing, the balance between jokes and heart, allowing time for an audience to laugh before moving to the next beat. It was an invaluable education from someone who’s films I watched on repeat. When he came on board I felt like I was dreaming. Rose Troche has also been an incredible mentor offering advice, notes, and thoughtful feedback. Before making Lez Bomb she asked me, “How do you want to push the tradition of LGBTQ narratives forward? How do you want to update it and push it along?” That question rang in my ears during the entire production.
8) Who is your favorite director and why?
That’s tough. I don’t know if I have a single favorite. I wanted to make movies ever since I watched A League of Their Own. Between that film and Big, I was inspired by Penny Marshall’s work growing up. There’s so much heart and so many wonderful characters and incredibly crafted performances in her films. All the characters have their moments. The Farrelly Brothers have always been a favorite too. I watched Dumb & Dumber and There’s Something About Mary too many times to count. They always lean into the joke, unapologetically, yet the story and heart of the film stay in focus. Creating films that can be watched over and over again, always discovering a new laughable moment in the film you may have missed last time you watched…that’s such a skill!
9) What is your favorite movie? Your favorite television/online program? Your favorite commercial or branded content?
That’s also tough, there are so many! A League of Their Own’s a personal favorite. Little Miss Sunshine, The Family Stone, Meet the Parents…I love a dysfunctional family comedy. All those films deeply inspired Lez Bomb. I love ensemble comedies, where each character is developed with well-crafted performances, and everyone’s given their “big moment.” But the film I probably watched the most growing up was Practical Magic. I’m dying to do a comedy about witches. Who’s with me and can we make this happen ASAP?!
10) Tell us about your background (i.e., where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
I grew up in Northern Jersey playing basketball, soccer, and softball. That team mentality is what really attracted me to ensembles. I went to college at Carnegie Mellon University, receiving a BHA in Drama and English with a focus in directing and writing. I then spent a year studying acting at Michael Howard Studios in NYC. I started writing and creating web series and digital shorts, while waiting tables. I used ever table as an opportunity to pitch whatever project I was working on. Seriously. Some of my biggest entertainment connections were customers I served! I continued to wait tables and pitch until I was hired to write a feature. I also had the opportunity to work as digital producer for Watch What Happens Live for a period of time. I finally made Lez Bomb, which brought me right back to my hometown, shooting the film in my childhood home and surrounding area.
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