Please introduce yourself. What do you do? Why? What do you want people to know about you?
As a Chicago native, I never imagined I’d end up in the Bay Area. But fate led me here when I landed a chance job with none other than Francis Ford Coppola. Working on his projects, I discovered my passion for storytelling. From there, I’ve poured my heart and soul into crafting nine short films that have been selected for over seventy-five film festivals and even won six awards. But my biggest endeavor yet is my first feature film, “Counterfeit Cabernets.” A dark comedy following a struggling wine vintner who becomes indebted to a dangerous gangster. With his back against the wall, he takes a gamble and creates counterfeit wine to settle the score. I’m thrilled to bring this project to life on the big screen and can’t wait to share it with audiences everywhere.
What qualities make you different and unique from everyone else in the industry?
I’m not sure if it’s unique to me, but I’ve always had a “never quit” mentality, especially when faced with tough challenges. As a filmmaker, I’ve experienced a lot of highs and lows along the way.
I’ve been through periods of homelessness, faced job rejections, and felt overlooked at times. But through it all, I’ve remained determined to achieve my ultimate goal: becoming an Academy Award-winning director. Despite the obstacles, I’ve never lost sight of my vision and have continued pushing forward towards my dream.
Describe THAT moment when you realized you’re doing what you were born to do.
Being on a film set and collaborating with other artists brings me an immense sense of joy. It’s the moments of synchronicity where everyone sees things the same way that are truly magical. These fleeting instances are what make filmmaking so special.
Working together towards a common goal and being a part of creating something that has the potential to positively impact others is truly rewarding. It’s these experiences that keep me inspired and motivated to keep pursuing my passion for filmmaking.
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve had to go through and how did you grow through it?
In 2011, I started taking filmmaking more seriously. But that same year, life dealt me a severe blow. Over the next decade, I was plagued by a series of devastating setbacks – my wife left me, I lost jobs, became homeless, and drifted apart from many of my friends.
The journey towards achieving my dream of making a name for myself in the film industry proved to be a lot harder than I ever could have imagined. Rejection after rejection from filmmakers and film organizations left me disheartened, but my unwavering passion for filmmaking kept me going.
In the face of adversity, I found an unshakeable resolve to keep pushing forward. Looking back, those difficult years taught me the importance of perseverance, resilience, and dedication to one’s passion. I held onto the belief that I could make a positive impact through my art, and that belief kept me moving forward. Today, I am grateful for those hardships because they helped shape me into the filmmaker I am today.
Who are the TOP 3 people you’d want to meet that could elevate your career or business? Why these specific individuals?
There are three people in the film industry who I would love to meet: Joslyn Rose Lyons, Roger Corman, and Robert Townsend. Joslyn and I have a unique connection – I was an extra in her film “The Blue Rose,” and she’s also a Bay Area native making waves in the industry.
I would love to reconnect with her and see if she would be willing to mentor me as I continue to pursue my dreams. As for Roger and Robert, I am in awe of the successful indie films they have created and the talented individuals they have nurtured along the way. The list of accomplished artists who have worked with them is truly impressive. To sit down and learn from their experiences would be an incredible opportunity for me as a filmmaker.
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