What film do you think everyone should watch?
I recently re-watched Casablanca and was blown away by the incredible depth of supporting characters. There were at least a dozen characters in that movie that could be protagonists of their own films, some with only a minute or two of screen time. They were all so vivid and distinct, and each had their own motivations that barely intersected with the main story. It made the film’s world feel so real and alive. So if you haven’t seen Casablanca, see it. And even if you have seen it, watch it again, and think about how much fun would be a film about Yvonne (who manages to have a full character arc in around three scenes), the young Bulgarian couple, Ugarte, Carl the waiter, the pickpocket… I could go on and on.
What’s your favorite part about living and working in the DC/MD/VA region?
A few years ago, I realized you could find someone to teach you anything in the DC area. Want an Olympian to teach you target archery? We’ve got one. Want to learn how to paint with wax? No problem. And, of course, there’s so many opportunities to learn all the fascinating filmmaking crafts. For someone like me with wide-spanning interests, that’s terrific!
Who inspires you?
A few years back, I read the most inspiring obituary I’ve ever read. It was of Manoel de Oliveira, a Portuguese director, and he had just died at the age of 106. During several decades of Portuguese dictatorship, Oliveira had been forbidden from making films. But when that ended in 1974 during his 60s, Oliveira made up for lost time. In the last four decades of his life, Oliveira made dozens of well-regarded features, including several made after he turned 100. For someone like me who came to filmmaking later in life, Oliveira is a true inspiration.
What story do you wish someone would tell?
I’d love to see someone make a biopic of Alice Paul that truly captured the woman’s character. She was astonishingly brave, to be sure. But her personality was surprising and compelling – she’d make an amazing character in a film, one tough as nails and almost completely lacking in the “feminine” virtues so valued during her lifetime.
I’ve got dozens of great anecdotes about her, but this one will give you an idea of what I mean. When she was organizing protests outside the White House demanding votes for women, one of her followers begged off joining the protests, saying that, given the abuse the protestors often suffered, her health problems might kill her. Alice replied, “Well, if that happens, it would probably be good for the cause.”
What’s your favorite place to celebrate success with your crew?
After working hard making a film, there’s nothing like being surrounded by my cast and crew sitting in a packed theater while they get to see the finished film for the first time. I can’t wait to get back into a theater with them again!