- What inspired you to become a writer?
My Dad is a novelist and a big cinephile, so growing up I was constantly inundated with good storytelling. So the foundation was always there. But I remember finding the paperback edition of the screenplay for Brian’s Song in my school’s library when I was like fifteen – I was totally mystified by it. It was like opening Pandora’s box – I became totally obsessed with the craft of filmmaking and wanted to get started. Writing felt like the most natural expression, and once I was conscious of good (and bad) screenwriting, I totally lost myself to it. I feel like it’s something I have to do or I’d just go crazy.
- Who and/or what are some of your key influences?
You know they’re pretty fluid. Every story is different, so I tend to draw from different things project to project. But growing up, there was a palpable sense of wonder to Spielberg’s films that really stuck with me. I’m drawn to adventure stories because of films like Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, Indiana Jones, and Jurassic Park. John Hughes is another – I think there is some kind of Ferris Bueller character in every script I write. Even with something like The Narrows – I always try to have a character who just takes things a little less seriously than everyone else.
- Did you go to film school? What was your experience like at film school?
I did. I went to Towson University in Maryland. Overall the experience was great. It’s a smaller program and unfortunately there wasn’t a lot of screenwriting courses, but I found a great mentor there in the brilliant Michael Angelella. I wrote my first feature script in his class, and his guidance and mentorship is what really gave me the confidence to keep going. I went in to his class wanting to write and I came out feeling like a writer.
- What’s the most important thing you’ve learned since you began writing?
Don’t edit while you write. I know it’s been said a billion times, but it’s true. I quickly learned after working with other people that the first draft is really more of a template than anything. Once you have it, that’s when the real work begins.
- What other projects do you have or are you working on?
I just finished co-writing a sci-fi spec entitled GEMINI. It’s in the vein of classic sci-fi adventure films like Close Encounters and The Iron Giant. After The Narrows, I really wanted my next project to be something fun and contemporary. I was speaking to a friend about how most modern day sci-fi films aren’t the kind we grew up with, so I decided to try to write something fresh but also familiar in tone. I’ve also been hired to write a project called El Norte, which is a futuristic western that deals with climate change, immigration law, and just about everything in between. Lastly, I’m noodling around an idea that centers around the mystery of Cicada_3301 – which I urge everybody to Google.
- What’s your dream project to work on?
Recently, I would have loved to adapt Ready Player One or Death Note. Those are both great projects and I can’t wait to see them come to life. But my holy grail would be a sequel/spinoff to The Princess Bride. I adore that film and I want so badly to revisit that world and spend more time with those characters — I must have a thousand ideas bouncing around.