When people ask you ‘so, what do you do?’ How do you introduce yourself?
I either say I’m a filmmaker or I make movies. And sometimes I just say I’m a storyteller.
What’s the first thing you do when you get on ‘set’
I say hello to everyone I see, then meet about the first scene and how we want to block and light it.
Do you have any traditions that you have when you are involved in a project?
Not really. Just give it my all every day.
What was the most recent book you read?
Technically it’s my own book about the making of my film (I had to proofread it), but a book that wasn’t my own was Dead Cert by Dick Francis. I like all his books.
What’s one of your favourite current Television shows you are watching?
It’s on a little hiatus but I love “Game of Thrones”. It’s terrific storytelling.
What’s the most ‘starstruck’ you have been?
When I was 12 or 13 my family and I visited New York and I was starstruck by a Michael Jackson impersonator because I thought it was the real Michael – until my older brother laughed at me and convinced me it wasn’t… Since then, I’ve never been starstruck.
What was one of the most memorable films you saw as a child?
“Jaws”. I never saw it in a theatre, but on cable I would watch it over and over.
What do you find the hardest part of your creative process and how do you deal with it?
My first screenplay drafts are usually lousy and sometimes I get stuck creatively. I deal with it by fighting through that feeling and reminding myself that it’s more important for me to get the first draft done than get it right. Once I have a completed first draft I start improving it throughout the rewrite process.
What is one of the best pieces of advice you can remember being given and from whom?
I read John Sayles book about the making of the film “Matewan” and he talked about how he felt 90% (I think that’s the percentage he used) of your directing should be done before you ever get on set. That kind of mindset about preparation was very valuable to me.
If you could change one thing about the industry you are in, what would it be?
That writers not be required to be great salespeople to get opportunities.
Do you read reviews of projects you work on?
Yeah. I understand that everyone has their likes and dislikes and so not all reviews will be good. But as long as I’m happy with what I did, then I’m fine with it.
If you had to make a ‘bucket list’ of people you’d love to work with, tell me one name who would be on it?
Steven Spielberg. He’s always been my favourite filmmaker.
Do you prefer day shoots or night shoots?
I’m not a morning person so I’d probably go with night shoots.
What is one of your most favourite locations you have filmed in?
An ice cream shop called Scoops in West Los Angeles, CA. It was a fun location and the ice cream was delicious.
What film always makes you laugh?
What film scares you?
What film do you love that you feel most people might not be aware of?
“The Prince of Tides” starring Nick Nolte and directed by Barbra Streisand.
In your creative roles? What is the longest day that you’ve ever had?
On day 2 of filming DANCE BABY DANCE, I was pulled aside (mid-day) and told we’d run out of money by day 9. That made that day a very long one… I cover in my book how I overcame that J
Do you have any ‘props or keepsakes from your films?
The tap shoes and tap board from my film DANCE BABY DANCE.
What is your proudest achievement?
Finishing my film and getting distribution for it. As I mentioned, we had a major budget mishap and lots of other obstacles – so overcoming them and getting the film finished (and a film that I’m proud of) is my proudest achievement.
Have you ever gotten someone’s autograph? Which is the most memorable for you?
When I was 11 or 12, my grandparents took me and my brother to a local play of “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe”. After the play, I got autographs from some of the cast.