How did you get into directing?
I think I was a freshman in high school and our English teacher had movie week. We watched Rear Window and North By Northwest. I remember watching them and thinking, “This is brilliant, I want to do that.” That’s when I really started to get into movies. I was always the kid with a camera in high school. Luckily that footage was lost forever because frankly, none of it was very good. I gave up film to work in hospitality for awhile. I’m glad I did because it put filmmaking into perspective and really allowed me to understand people and their different emotional states. I think that is invaluable when working with actors and developing characters.
What is your most recent project?
I just completed a new short film entitled Scent. A silent film about a man’s attempt to rid himself of a putrid bodily odor. I’m also in the early stages of attempting to secure financing on a feature film I wrote entitled Affirmation. A film about a terminally ill loner who takes a road-trip with a rambunctious hitchhiker in an effort to re-create a childhood stunt that turned into a tragedy. I’m also in the treatment process of writing another feature film. I have to keep busy, it’s a necessity.
What is the best part of being a director?
The best part about being a director is watching the vision that you’ve created in your mind unfold in front of your eyes. You’ve watched it in your head a million times but it’s not truly real until you’re on set and the actors bring it to life.
What is the worst part of being a director?
The worst part about being a director is losing an actor’s best take because of a technical malfunction. Your actor is nailing their characters truth at that moment and a light burns out or memory card fills up. Then it takes another five takes to try and recapture that same magic, but it’s lost.
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.?
Movies are my current career focus. I’m not interested in television unless it’s something more cinematic like some of HBO or AMC’s content. I tend to lean toward character-driven dramatic comedies, but I also love a good story that is dominated by subtext like Shame or A Place Beyond The Pines. I am also interested in commercials that allow me to flex my creativity. Commercials are great because they are quick. You do it and you move on. When you do a film, you’re invested in it for the long haul.
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?
I can’t really say that I have a specific mentor in this industry. I’ve had a lot of great people who I’ve met in my life who have always taught me to put people first. I try and apply that philosophy to every shoot by making sure the cast and crew is taken care of. I’ve got a very talented crew of people I like to work with and sometimes money isn’t involved so I try and take care of them however possible to keep them happy. I’ve been on sets where moral is low. I don’t want my sets to be like that. My parents are also extremely supportive which is awesome.
Who is your favorite director and why?
I don’t really have one in particular. A lot of my influences come from Hitchcock, Scorsese, Tarantino, Eastwood, Woody Allen and Wes Anderson to name a few. I tend to take little bits of each of them stylistically. I have a great respect for each of them because they have been doing it well for so long. I hope one day the same can be said for me.
What is your favorite movie? Your favorite commercial or branded content?
I wouldn’t say that it’s my favorite film because I have so many, but cinematically speaking, Lawrence of Arabia is the most beautiful film in the history of cinema in my opinion. Every shot is a majestic piece of art. There are countless other films like Casablanca, Rear Window, North By Northwest, Citizen Kane, The Godfather I and II, The Royal Tenenbaums, Goodfellas, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Shame, Annie Hall, Silver Linings Playbook, 8 1/2, Pan’s Labyrinth and Unforgiven. You can also add The Room on this but that’s just because it’s so awful, it’s good. My favorite commercial is Epuron’s Mr. W spot. It’s brilliant.
Tell use about your background (i.e. Where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
I grew up in Glenview, IL. My parents moved us to Wisconsin when I was in middle school and bought a restaurant in a tiny town with less than 400 people. I started working in hospitality when I was older and did a lot of traveling for work. I lived in Virginia and Kansas City for awhile and then decided to go back to school. I graduated from Madison Media Institute with high honors, moved to New York and took film classes at NYU while I working as a freelance production assistant. Now I am a producer at a postproduction house which gives me more free time to work on my craft.