Who: Wrote and directed ZMD: Zombies of Mass Destruction (2010) and Junk (2013); created the short “In Her Place“ (2015) as a proof-of-concept for a feature currently in development
How did you break in or get your start in screenwriting?
I made several short films in college and one caught the attention of producer John Sinno who had just come off of an Oscar nomination for the documentary, Iraq in Fragments. He happened to be looking for a new project and, surprisingly, my satirical horror/comedy spec, ZMD: Zombies of Mass Destruction, happened to be exactly what he wanted to do next. You never know who’s going to respond to your work—so put it out there!
What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned?
The script has to be finished before you start shooting. I mean finished. Too many young filmmakers are eager to start shooting and impatient with the sometimes long and frustrating writing process. So keep pushing the script—have friends read it, do a live reading—whatever you can to make sure it’s ready for the market.
What’s the hardest scene or project you’ve ever had to write?
The last short I did, “In Her Place,” was actually the hardest thing to crack. How do I tell a feature length story in 13 minutes, with character arcs and enough development to earn an emotional response from the audience? I navigated the challenge by getting help from my brilliant friend and incredible writer, Max Borenstein. We all have smart friends. Know the ones who are honest and who understand story, and tap them to read your work.
Do you have a favorite experience at Austin Film Festival?
Meeting Paul Thomas Anderson. Only at AFF are artists of such caliber so approachable.
1. Annie Silverstein 2. Jared Frieder 3. Mike Covino and Sam Kretchmar 4.Troy Anthony Miller 5. Kieran Fitzgerald 6. Ya’ke Smith 7. Brian Klugman 8. Nina Ljeti 9. Kevin Hamedani 10. Eric Haywood 11. Andrew Lanham 12. Julie Howe 13. Tess Morris 14. Matt Cook 15. Monica Zanetti 16. VJ Boyd 17. Edward Ricourt 18. David Broyles 19. Sasha Gordon 20. Eric Hueber 21. Faraday Okoro 22. Arturo Ruiz Serrano 23. Maya Perez 24. Max Taxe 25. Negin Farsad