Origin Story: I grew up on a grain farm in Indiana. I was always drawing as a kid and playing music or painting in high school. I went into art school as a painter and came out a designer. I worked at a design firm for a few years, shooting commercials here and there. I’d stay in their studio til middle of the night working on my craft, composing music and creating personal narrative films. I scraped together some money with that design job, and licensing my music, and made a few short films. It had me after that. Those films took me to a bunch of festivals like Hollyshorts where I met some amazing people and collaborators that I still work with today. I quit the job to pursue feature filmmaking full-time and am currently setting a release date for my debut feature film Whelm. Making that movie was the biggest risk of my life—definitely the most challenging, but it was the most fun I’ve ever had. I’m so glad we got that movie on celluloid and had the pleasure of working with the folks at Kodak, Arri, Skywalker Sound, and Metropolis Post NY to make it as good as it could be.
Accolades: Burbank Film Festival Grand Prize Winner (Whelm), Academy Award Qualifying Heartland Film Festival Official selection, Beverly Hills Film Fest Official Selection, Academy Award Qualifying Hollyshorts Official Selection, Adobe Creative Jam Short Film Winner
On Being an Artist: I think it’s important to trust your gut in this business. When it comes to writing, make sure you are pouring your heart into something you love. If you’re trying to hit the zeitgeist, you’re gonna miss and be too late. Authenticity is timeless, and making the thing ONLY YOU can make is imperative with the ocean of content out there. And don’t wait for anyone’s permission to get started when getting a film together. I’ve found it's best to just act as if it's already happening and bring the people you trust onto that moving train. Surround yourself with collaborators who are better than you are, ones who believe in you and your vision. Give them a reason to believe in you. It takes a village, but in the end, a director's job is to pull the best performances out of everyone. So in essence: my job is to inspire.
Currently: Getting Whelm to audiences is what’s on my plate at the moment. Looking at a July release on streamers and Blu-ray, with theatrical exhibition to precede that in NY, L.A. and parts of the Midwest. I’m excited for audiences to finally see it! I have two major feature scripts that are being polished and headed into development, one in pre-pro. I found an incredible producing partner and have a world class team at my side to bring these pictures into reality. Big things on the horizon.
Someday: I’ll help the charge in ensuring original motion pictures have a viable place in the market. I hope to bring American Epics back into the conversation. I also will continue to support shooting on celluloid and the theatrical experience. As far as award shows go … Paul Thomas Anderson, Chris Nolan, Stanley Kubrick, Andrew Dominik ... just a few names who have never clutched the little gold statue. So you have to take all that with a grain of salt. It's not sports.
*Feature Photo: Skyler Lawson / photo by Christian Barreno