I knew I wanted to be screenwriter when...
I received really positive feedback from several
screenwriting contests, validating that the headfirst dive
into screenwriting was worth the risk and investment.
I know I've succeeded when......
At the risk of being sappy, I believe success is a process
and a mindset, not a final destination. Success is a journey
riddled with obstacles and failures along the way, which
must be overcome to realize the goals you've set for
yourself. Success is never settling. Success is being
pleased when a goal is attained, and following that by
setting a new one. Each goal reached should be a clear
indicator of personal or professional improvement.
inspiration to write The Crossroads.....
was when my father first shared this story from his career
as an NYC detective with me from beginning to end, and I
made a promise to him that one day the story would be told.
inspired you to write?
inspired by stories, those of people unknown or
underrepresented in modern media or culture. I'm inspired by
the thoughts and emotions I've experienced, and by those
I've been privileged to share with others.
FilmMakers Magazine: Is this your first script
and how long did it take you to complete?
Crossroads was my first script. It required roughly eight
months of preparation, seven months to write the first
version, and an additional nine months to complete five
subsequent revisions, including the final version. All told,
it took nearly exactly two years to complete.
FilmMakers Magazine: Do you have a set
routine, place and time management for writing?
typically schedule days and times for writing. If I feel
like I'm really in the groove, I'll go until the mojo runs
out. Otherwise, I typically set a plot point objective for
the period I'm writing.
Magazine: Do you believe screenplay contests are
important for aspiring screenwriters and why?
screenwriting competitions can be very beneficial to
aspiring writers because it exposes your work to industry
professionals that can provide valuable criticism, allowing
the writer to learn and grow. In addition, success in
competitions can open industry doors, and can be a valuable
element to include in a bio lacking actual published work.
Magazine: What influenced you to enter the FilmMakers
International Screenwriting Awards
/ Screenplay Contest?
Filmmakers was the very first contest I selected to enter. I
did so based on it being well-established in the industry
and offering the opportunity to win prizes that could be of
great value to my potential screenwriting career.
FilmMakers Magazine: What script would you
urge aspiring writers to read and why?
It would be impossible to isolate it to just one screenplay,
but if I could pick one that's probably not often
recommended I would suggest Machine Gun Preacher by Jason
Keller. It paints a very detailed and visceral picture of
the horrors children face in war-torn Africa, and his
depiction of the main character Sam really comes off the
page. You truly feel the essence of a man who is constantly
on the edge.
Magazine: Beside screenwriting what are you passionate
about and why?
I'm extremely passionate about music, both writing and
playing, as well as listening. It's always been a part of my
life and always will be. Nothing can convey emotion and tell
a story the way a great song can. To me, it's our greatest
contribution to art and culture.
FilmMakers Magazine: Who is your favorite
Screenwriter and Why?
At the risk of going with a current hitmaker, I would have
to choose Christopher Nolan. Though he's willing to tackle
complex themes, he finds ways to create main characters that
are identifiable and relatable. Regardless of its budget or
how effects-laden his production might be, he finds a way to
simplify to protagonist’s struggle to an essential human
Magazine: Name the director you would love to work with
If I had
to select one particular director to work with to bring my
current script The Crossroads to life, I would have to go
with Michael Mann. I've always admired his work and his
vision, and I would love to see his take on a gritty 1980s
New York cop thriller.
Magazine: Name the actor you would love to work with and
same logic, if I had to pick a certain actor for the lead
role in The Crossroads, I’d select Vincent Piazza. As he is
a huge talent who actually grew up where this story unfolds,
I truly envision him as a great choice for the role. He's a
young actor with a tremendous future, and the New York stuff
is second nature to him.
FilmMakers Magazine: Any tips and things
learned along the way to pass on to others?
If I had
to give any advice, I’d start by suggesting that the basic
formatting of screenwriting is very important, but once you
move onto those secondary devices that are used less
often—such as flashbacks and supers—don't obsess over the
formatting. I've read a hundred scripts and no two writers
incorporated these techniques the same way. The important
thing is to find the identifiable thematic spine of the
story and the emotional underpinnings of each character. If
you find those and write each scene with those two things in
mind, your goals should be achieved when you complete your
Magazine: What's next for you?
what's next is selling this script! Actually, I'm wrapping
production on a few videos to help me pitch it, and once the
pitch is in process, I'll be interviewing some prospective
subjects for a follow-up screenplay.
FilmMakers Magazine: Where will you be five
years from now?
from now I'll be working hard with my nose to the grindstone
on whichever project that may be my focus at that time. It
could be another script, perhaps a full production, maybe a
new album, or even building a house for my family. It could
all of the above. Whatever it is, I'll be attacking it the
same way I've done everything else in my life--with all of
my energy, focus, and determination.