Tell us about yourself. What inspired you to become a filmmaker?
I am the youngest of five children with significant space in age. My next older brother is seven years older than me. We were raised Catholic, but my parents weren’t conservative, in the 1970s, they were Progressive Catholics, but they don’t exist anymore. As far as I can remember, the film was always very important to me. The first film I remember seeing in the theater was Martin Scorsese’s, Raging Bull. I was six years old. My parents often took me along to movies to save on the cost of a babysitter. I have seen the film many times since then, but I can remember being enchanted by the black and white images flickering on screen and the pure emotional responses of the characters.
Talk about your last work. What are some of the challenges you faced during production?
We filmed the short outside in early June. This is usually a mild time of year in Minneapolis, Minnesota but there was a heat wave and it was 100 degrees Fahrenheit with extreme humidity and we had a COVID-compliant set with masks. It was a 2-day shoot, ten hours each day. It was an exhausting experience for all involved!
What makes you want to tell stories? In other words, what are the themes/issues
you want to incorporate into your work?
I don’t know if it’d say I want to tell stories exactly, it’s more that feel like I have to in order to cope with all of inequity and inhumanity I witness in daily life in the United States. I am drawn to tell non-fictional or personal experiences I’ve had with people or situations that have impacted me personally in a profound way. My short films thus far have been about personal experiences I’ve had with homeless people in the United States, where I saw what was happening to them. As a person with a disability. I see how people deemed inconvenient in some way, like disabled people and/or homeless people are ignored and dismissed in many societies, not just the United States.
Who are your filmmaking influencers? What are the films that were influential for
What decade in what genre? Ha ha ha! I’d have to say any film by Elia Kazan has had a huge influence on the types of stories I want to tell, his protagonists are always fighting some sort of societal construct and injustice. Kazan’s adaptation of the East of Eden is brilliant, as well as all the performances. Billy Wilder is another writer/director who does this, but he made brilliant comedies as well as dramas dealing with this human paradox. My favorite Wilder comedy is The Apartment and my favorite drama is Sunset Boulevard. The films of Martin Scorsese have been very meaningful to me as both a writer and filmmaker, particularly Taxi Driver and Kundun.
How do you think the industry is changing? How has COVID affected independent
Hard to say for sure. It is a bit of a moving target. It’s an exciting time to be working with film and screenwriting because there are so many platforms to highlight works, such as YouTube and other streaming platforms like Amazon and Netflix, etc. We have a certified COVID compliance manager on our set, everyone felt better and no one got COVID.
What advice would you give to aspiring artists? What are some of the things they
Just do it, failures and successes will both happen. Do whatever you can, even isn’t. it’s an unpaid Production Assistance on the set of an indie short film. There will be people who understand your work.
Do you think films/stories can bring about a change in the world?
Yes, definitely. It has changed my worldview. For example, seeing the film Boys Don’t Cry
when it was released educated me on transgender individuals. I knew what it was but that film, and Hillary Swank’s Oscar-winning performance, really illustrated the struggles and dangers facing this population of people. I am very thankful for that experience.
What do you think people like to watch these days? Has the pandemic changed
Television is in a resurgence. Popular shows often cross-genres, like paranormal with historical or fantasy and science fiction. Game of Thrones is a great example. Same with film, especially comic books features all sorts of characters and creatures.
Please tell us about your upcoming projects.
I am working on a script for a third short film about homelessness in the United States. It is another real-life experience I had with a homeless black man sleeping on a subway car
when I was three years old. It was a family visit to Philadelphia in the late 1970s. I got down on the floor with him and we had a very interesting conversation. I am working on several screenplays in various genres as well as television pilots and both fiction and non-fiction prose pieces.