1. Talk about your path to film. When did you know that film was going to be your living?
Growing up I knew nothing about film. My first experience with production was working at my college’s television station. I produced work with my brother and this experience was my gateway. My school didn’t offer any film-related courses, so I started doing research on my own. I landed on the set of a feature film and on this set I knew that film was going to be more than a hobby for me. I compared it to my other jobs where I just counted hours. On sets, I worked 14-hour days and I never looked at my watch. I was wholly immersed even though what I was doing was entry-level work. I wanted to be there. There was no incentive outside of just learning and being on the set. That was more than enough for me. Also, the film 21 Grams starring Sean Penn created a major turning point for me. The film is non-linear and connects the stories of various characters that were involved in a car accident. I identified with the scene in which Sean Penn sits in a dark room and reflects on his life’s path. There is no dialogue, but I was able to connect to the intensity and emotional output. At that moment, I no longer wanted to interact with film as just a viewer. I feel the need to replicate this kind of experience for others.
2. Are there certain qualities that make a film great to you?
Filmmaking has so many components and ALL aspects are important. “Little” things such as music greatly affect my reception of the film. Characters are also right at the line between great and not so great. We fall in love with characters; they’re what we remember.
3. When working on a project, is it harder to start or to keep going?
Getting started has its challenges. Developing a script requires so much research. I try to get into my characters’ minds to seamlessly sketch out their lives and motives. The more information I have the less writer’s block I experience. But once I have a script I realize I’ve persevered. It’s a rewarding to get to this stage. To keep going is as difficult because at this point I can build my crew, which lessens the load. Collaboration makes life easier, and I get to share my vision with others. It’s then also all about finding the right people to help me build.
4. Do you believe that everything starts with the script? When do you know that a script is done and how do you get it there?
When I’m writing a story, I am on a course to meeting a vision. After writing a first draft, I send it out to people to see whether their interpretation matches what I have in my head. If they don’t arrive at what I intended, I rework it until what they tell me is what I have in mind.
5. What are your top five movies of all time?
Five movies, that’s hard. “Of all time” is a stretch because I honestly sometimes don’t remember all of the movies that I love. I am still definitely fond of Troy directed by Wolfgang Petersen. I love the sequences. I like to think of myself as a romantic—I like romantic scenes, the chase, and people chasing things. Fury by David Ayer is another film I enjoy. His body of work is amazing, another movie that pops up in my mind right now is It Follows. For me that was the ideal cinema experience; I think the director hit the nail on the head. It was fun, I was emotionally invested, and really wanted to know what happened next. I tend to not have this inclination to want to know what’s next with a lot of movies nowadays. I was at the edge of my seat for both Fury and It Follows. As for the last two I will say that I am Legend is definitely up there. I can watch it over and over. I think Will Smith owned that movie, and Francis Lawrence owned that movie. It was intense, and again I felt like it was love for me. It was romantic. And lastly, I’m going to say Casablanca.