Margarita Happy Hour

Margarita Happy Hour

Film School

I didn’t realize until years later that my college
experience was not like others. SUNY Purchase at least in the era
that I attended was a haven for weirdo artists and misfits. It was
originally conceived as a state university for the arts, so freaks
were the normal people, no frat boys or rich brats. It was a very
healthy place to be in that regard. And there’s a pretty vast network
of Purchase mafia that continue to work together, live together,
drink together…

The Writing Process 

Visualizing scenes and hearing words is easy. Sitting
down in a chair and trying to map it all out on a piece of paper,
or worse, a computer screen, is pure torture. Also, I might point
out, writing during pregnancy is next to impossible. No booze, no
coffee, no cigarettes… no script.

The Role of Producers

Susan Leber and Michael Ellenbogen became my surrogate
parents during the course of making the movie. I was the unruly
kid. In fact, they have to manage the entire dysfunctional extended
Margarita Happy Hour family the cast and crew who’ve all been very
much stuck in this experience with us to this day. And each parent
fulfills different needs for each child. Their roles are countless
and continuous. 

Directing Actors

Casting, casting, casting. That’s most of the battle.
If you’ve cast correctly, much of the time you can let the actors
go ahead and do their work. The actors and I spent a lot of time
just engaged in conversation in the months prior to the shoot. Then
when it was time to roll, we were able to function without having
to use too many words. 

Shooting on Location

It’s priceless to have the authentic ambience and
look of a real dive bar, for example, but then use good judgment
on whether or not you can tell the local regulars to Shut Up! (In
Brooklyn, usually you can’t.) 

First-Time Feature Moviemaking 

Making a feature film will not solve your life.

The Editing Process

It’s the most gratifying part. Taking all those weeks,
months, years of carnage and destruction and chaos created throughout
pre-production/production and sewing it back together. Anything
is solvable.

Music in Films 

Too much background music is a fake, convenient way
to make a scene work. I tried to use songs when necessary, then
I worked with Max Lichtenstein, who did the score, to create urban-sounding
"music," which were just like subtle accents, enhancements
of the ambience, reminiscent of sirens and garbage truck brakes,


I’m not a natural-born collaborator. I’m still learning
that when I open up to what others have to offer, it can often trigger
a whole new level of inspiration. It’s sort of a relief.