Tell us what you're currently doing and what's involved with the position.
I'm very pleased to say that we've just finished my very first feature film, "Dreaming of You". I wrote, directed and starred in the film. It was a ton of work from planning, raising funds, shooting, editing, animating and much much more to list here. Making a film is a real bear of an ordeal. It took almost 3 years from writing to completion, but we had a great crew that got it done. And done well I like to think. Now, we have our eyes on film festivals and getting our film out to the world. I think (and hope) the world will like it.
Can you share your path since graduation that led you to your current gig?
It's been a weird path that's for sure. Full of odd jobs and part time work. Not glamorous and most points. But that's all life experience. I did work for Heery Loftus Casting in Philadelphia for a bit. That was my best job in the film industry. I met a lot of great people there. Then I moved to LA and had a less than stellar experience at one industry job that helped me realize I needed to focus more on making my own stuff if I wanted to be happy. If that meant I had to work a stint at Chipotle to pay rent as got my film made, so be it. I'm not a "work your way up the ladder" kind of guy. I'm more the "figure out your own path" silly fool. I'm slightly more stable now with some fairly consistent editing work, but I don't want to Hollywoodize this path in Hollywood. (I live in Hollywood so it's both the literal and metaphorical Hollywood.) It can be a pain. Wouldn't want anything else though.
How did you break into this particular part of the industry?
I don't know if I'd consider myself "broken in" just yet, but I'd like to think we're just on the cusp of doing so. We've made many short films in the past that have had their own small successes, but, I don't know, this project just feels different. I don't want to jinx ourselves but there's just something about it that feels like we might actually have a shot with it to open some doors. I don't know what those doors may be, but I'm excited to find out. I'm also just not good at anything else, so I'm gonna keep getting my crew together to keep making stuff until we finally do break in.
What are the key skills required to handle your job?
Being nice. I had to ask for so many favors from a ton of people for the film and no one wants to help out a jerk. Plus, it's just a better way to live. People will help you move mountains if you treat them with respect.
The other big thing required (And I apologize if I sound like a scarf-wearing, arsty-fartsy film schmuck.) but vision. Oh, I hate saying that, but it is true. On a film set, there's nothing worse than a director who doesn't know what he wants. Film is an insanely collaborative art form but the crew also needs to feel like the captain knows where the ship is going. And I usually do. There is so much planning done before the cameras start rolling. Which is good because my style can get pretty out there. "Dreaming of You" goes to wild places at times but it goes there with a purpose. And when you have a clear vision, you set yourself apart from the competition. No one else could have captained "Dreaming of You" but me. For better or worse, that thing is extremely tied to my sensibilities, experiences, sense of humor and, yes... vision.
Are you working with other Drexel alumni? How has that network paid off for you?
Oh, throw a dart at our end credits and you'll hit a Drexel alumni. Anthony Marotta, our cinematographer, was the first person called about the project. Bridgett Greenberg was our producer. Mark Albini our AD. Shamus Hays our AC. Christian Kircher our on set sound mixer. We even have alumni in front of the camera. Ian Ross and Jake Westphal are absolutely hilarious on screen. Hell, we also have Drexel professors involved. John Avarese scored and mixed the film. And that's not even everyone.The list goes on. I was taught to always surround yourself with people more talented than yourself. Drexel has been a well of those people. So, to answer your question; Yes, I think the network has paid off for me.
As an alumni yourself, have you had an opportunity to work with or hire any current Drexel students? What was that experience like?
We tried to get current students as PA's on the film, but unfortunately, due to Covid and their senior projects at the time, we couldn't make it work. But I did get to crash their senior project class to pitch the gig and be a general nuisance in a classroom environment again. So, that was fun.
How did Drexel prepare you for getting to this point in your career?
My freshman year, Karin Kelly told us that we could use the gear to create whatever we wanted. I took full advantage of that almost immediately. I gathered a group of fellow students (Many I still work with) and we shot comedy sketches almost every single weekend. That experience was invaluable in me learning how to create films. Especially in learning how comedy in the film medium worked. And that's on top of the film practice and history classes that exposed me to so much. Shout out to Tom Quinn and his Micro Budget film class. It was a class I only took so it would run for others, but it ended up being the class that helped us with this film probably more than any other. Shocking that learning how to make a movie with barely any money helped us make a movie with barely any money.
What advice would you like to go back and give your undergraduate self?
Strap in, because it's not going to be as easy as you think it will be. But it's all part of the process so you'll be okay. Just be prepared to live out the immortal words of the prophets Chumbawamba. "I get knocked down. But I get up again. You're never gonna keep me down."