Illuminations on all things cinema, theatre, VR, and the performing arts...
About me. Well, what can I tell you?
I am a long-time active voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, an associate member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, and very proud to be a member of Lincoln Center Theater’s Director’s Lab. I've also completed the CTI Intensive on Commercial Theatre producing. I split my time between New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. I produced the movie Pleasantville, was a production executive at New Line Cinema where I oversaw Austin Powers and more than twenty-five other films... I was Head of Production at a company called Chanticleer Films, where I produced, post-produced, and/or was directly involved with more than forty 35mm shorts which received more than five Academy Award Nominations during the period I oversaw the program. I, myself, produced two Academy Award-nominated short films...
But all that said... I seem to remember Glinda, the Good Witch of the North saying, "It's always best to start at the beginning..."
So, while there's no yellow brick road in my story, there are hundreds of those yellow-orange Kodak film boxes and cans in my childhood. See, at one point or another, my parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents, all worked for the late, great Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester, NY, making photography products and film. A few of them even knew George Eastman himself! Really! So. I like to say, I decided to continue in the family tradition, but do my "filmmaking" 3000 miles west, in Hollywood.
I grew up surrounded by the art and technology of photography and movies. As a very young boy, I remember taking my parent's 16mm movie projector apart to try to understand how it worked. (Yes, I put it back together...) By the age of 13 or 14, I had my own darkroom (a place, before Photoshop, where you developed and printed images in the dark using paper and very toxic chemicals that reeked of vinegar).
In college, I majored in photography, with a minor in theatre.
As an undergraduate, I was invited to take a graduate-level film class on Silent German Expressionism. It changed my life.
There, I discovered silent film actress Louise Brooks, whom I had a terrible crush on. It didn't matter that she was 70 at the time, to me she was this intoxicating 23-year-old! But, it was in her and director G.W. Pabst's film Pandora's Box that I found my future.
I realized that my gift for photography and love of theatre merged into something called cinema. So armed with this... ah... revelatory "insight" (brilliant, LOL, I know...) I switched majors to filmmaking, sadly ending my family's dreams for me to be a wedding photographer.
It would take me a while to find my path, working as a sound editor, cinematographer, post-production supervisor, and almost every other job on a film set (including caterer) until all that lead me to film producing. Of course, producing would eventually lead me to write and direct my own work, as I fell in love with actors and what they do.
I laugh (with affection) at my naive younger me, who had no idea that the businesses of film, theater and commercials were separate things to be mastered. I spent a lot of my twenties sitting in the old art house movie theaters in New York watching everything that was playing, from the brilliant Renée Jeanne Falconetti in The Passion of Jean of Arc to the films of the French New Wave and of course the latest Orson Welles revivals. How many nights and afternoons did I sit in the Cinema Village or Film Forum? It's impossible to say.
However, at some point, I had another epiphany, this time it was that the feature film industry was in Hollywood and not in NYC, so I moved to LA. Five years later, I was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. I could tell you about the first six months in LA when I sent out over 400 resumes and did not get one job interview, but perhaps that's for a chapter in my off-in-the-future book. LOL.
Like Little Bob who took apart film projectors to see how all those still images became a moving picture, I am still fascinated by how we use image technology to tell stories. I've immersed myself in the emerging technology of virtual reality (VR) and have become enough of an expert in it that I teach it at the university level.
Basically, I love the art of storytelling, turning our dreams into reality; making the seemingly impossible, possible. I believe that film and theatre-makers are no different from the storytellers of old – walkers between our known world and that of the unknown, between the infinite and incomprehensible, part magician, part shaman, and part guide.
The stories we tell ourselves become who we are as a society. What we say in those stories is important. Why not imagine out best selves and tell the stories that explore how we become that?
But enough about me...