1. Your film Creating Beauty won award 3rd Best Feature Documentary. How was the film inspired?
The film was inspired by a relatively new friend at the time. We were discussing life, loves and passions over a beer and he mentioned that he restored classic cars. I immediately thought it was a subject worth pursuing as a documentary project.
2. Tell us about your background and when did you decide to become a filmmaker?
I've had a long twisting road to becoming a filmmaker. I was first inspired to make films in my early teens and did odd jobs around the neighborhood to earn enough money to buy my first super-8 camera. I eventually attended the University of Southern California film school and graduated in 1984. After some initial success, I went through a 20 year period where I basically had my film aspirations in stasis. About 5 years ago, I decided that if I wanted to follow this lifelong passion, I needed to get after it again, so I started hiring myself out as a cameraman for short films, corporate videos etc., which led to me making Creating Beauty.
3. Films that inspired you to become a filmmaker?
Without question the Wizard of Oz and The Ten Commandments were key early influences. It was a holiday tradition in my family to watch both films every year and I became fascinated with how all the amazing scenes were filmed as a young boy.
4. Who is your biggest influence?
I would say that Steven Spielberg was my biggest influence. Of course I would never put myself in his category, but his early films, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Close Encounters, etc continue to serve as an inspiration for me. Additionally I am a big fan of David Lean and David Fincher.
5. Do you have a favorite genre to work in? Why is it your favorite?
I haven't worked in my favorite genre yet, but I like thrillers, neo-noir, and of course documentaries.
6. What's your all-time favorite movie and why?
My favorite all-time movie is Seven by David Fincher. It perfectly encapsulates what I hope to become as a filmmaker. I've probably watched the film more than 50 times and I always see something new on every viewing.
7. If you could work with anyone in the world, who would that person be?
Honestly, my younger brother Bernard. He is the youngest of 13 kids and we see the world the same in so many ways, I think it would be great to make a film with him.
8. The one person who has truly believed in you throughout your career.
My kids. I have 2 daughters and I would say they have both always believed in my filmmaking dream no matter how out of reach it seemed.
9. What was the most important lesson you had to learn as filmmaker?
Ha! I don't think I've learned it yet. I keep making mistakes and keep correcting them. I think that's the only way to improve as an artist.
10. What keeps you motivated?
I've always been an optimistic person. Even though this dream of being a filmmaker started in my teens and continues through today in my early 60's, the passion has not waned.
11. How has your style evolved?
I've always been a fan of vivid colors, camera movement and long lenses. Now I'm starting to realize that for me it's more about finding what works for each individual shot, scene or project.
12. On set, the most important thing is…
On set, the most important thing is listening. Set your ego aside and her other ideas, because sometimes you find a little nugget of gold.
13. The project(s) you're most proud of…
I would have to say this one, Creating Beauty. Not because it's necessarily the best thing that I've ever done, but because I set a goal to finish it in time to submit to Sundance and I accomplished that, which led to me having the confidence to submit to other festivals, including yours.
14. The most challenging project you worked on. And why?
Probably my current project, Letters From Brno. It's a sensitive subject about the plight of one family in Nazi occupied Brno and I feel a tremendous responsibility to get it right.
15. What are your short term and long term career goals?
Short term, to finish the current documentary project mentioned above. Long term, I have several documentary projects I would like to complete, as well as a range of narrative features.
16. Your next projects?
As I mentioned Letters from Brno, which is about 80-90% completed and then a sports related documentary about how a professional athlete's career was adversely affected by discrimination in the US and then a project on the history of film editing.
Thank you for your great answers! I believe they inspire many of you to read this article!
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