Who, or what inspired you to become a filmmaker?
Well, I've always been an avid film fan since I was a kid. I mean, I can't remember what I had for breakfast this morning, but I can tell you what age I saw "Back to the Future" for the first time, and that my earliest memory at the movies was going to see the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" with my dad.
So, film and filmmaking has always been very much of an interest of mine. If I had to point out one inspiration in particular, I would say comic books. I grew up reading and drawing comics all my life. I loved telling my own stories through that medium. One day it hit me that the panel of a comic was just like the frame of a camera, and that really flipped a switch for me. You could say I put down my pencil and picked up a camera.
What film can you not live without and why?
"Stand By Me". It reminds me of a time in my life before angst or cynicism, when it seemed like any problem could be solved as long as you had your best friends beside you. But I'd like to think that's still true...
What film do you currently find yourself watching at nausea? And what about it keeps bringing you back?
I'd have to say "Back to the Future". I can't count how many times I've seen that movie. It just has everything I go to the movies for. It's fun, imaginative, heartfelt and just a really smartly told story full of adventure. Honestly, I feel like I find an interesting new detail every time I watch that film. A definite classic in my eyes. Maybe one of the most well executed screenplays in cinema.
Has a modern film impacted you lately? If so, what film, and how?
I'm not really a big horror fan, but films like "Don't Breathe" and "It Follows" really challenged my perception of modern horror. Both in what it can be, and where you can take the genre.
Is there a saying, code or decree you live by as a filmmaker?
Write what you know.
Give us the elevator pitch for your first film and a note you would give it.
Two best friends get fired from their jobs and decide to go into business for themselves. Note: it's slightly more interesting than it sounds. Slightly.
How do you continue to educate yourself as a filmmaker?
I'm always trying to surround myself with people who are going to challenge me and who I can learn from. I ask a lot of questions, which I feel some people are afraid to do. I think there's this thing where people don't even want to attend screenwriting conferences at a certain level of their careers, because they don't want to be seen as people who are still learning. But the reality is, things are always changing, learning never stops in this industry. I really do make a conscious effort to read scripts, find interviews online, and attend discussion panels, if I think I can get even a little something out of it.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome as a filmmaker?
It may sound like a strange answer, but having confidence was, and still is the biggest challenge for me. Beyond the technical and creative side of film-making, there is a very large social aspect...it is after all a collaborative medium. When you are a naturally shy kid this can be a big hurdle to overcome. Mingling, going to events, and "doing lunch" are a necessity to build your network or to find opportunities. But these things certainly take me out of my comfort zone. I know, I know, says the guy doing an interview, right? Just a note to the readers, this entire correspondence was done from my hidden shack in the mountains, all questions were answered on tiny scrolls sent via carrier-pigeon.
What do you love about the art of filmmaking and why?
Telling stories has always been the thing for me. I think it's a real privilege to be able to use your imagination for a living, and I certainly don't take those opportunities for granted. I also love the collaboration aspect. Watching so many talented people come together and share their individual abilities for one singular purpose is pretty amazing.