After a two year stint in Northern England obtaining my MFA – I have returned to New Mexico State University as an adjunct professor in CMI whilst continuing to freelance on the side as writer/director.
What do you like most about what you’re doing?
Teaching is incredibly satisfying. I really enjoy it, and have a profound respect for the job. It also allows me freedom to work on my own projects. I have time to direct commercials, and write. I enjoy the balance between the students and my own personal projects which keeps me in tune with the creative process. I’m a director in the long run, but being able to teach in the mean time is one of the few jobs I was keen on accepting and I’m fortunate for the opportunity.
What are some projects/jobs that you’ve worked on since graduating?
I had the chance to direct two short films whilst in the UK. One being “Leo” which is a drama filmed in France and England. It has been my most successful film to date film festival wise, and I’m currently working on a feature length script for that film. My latest film is “Beat Blue” was funded by my grad school, but filmed in Las Cruces and Albuquerque. It was nice to be back! It’s a pol ice drama told in rhyme. That film is nearly complete, but it was a pleasure to make and create with so many people from both sides of the pond. I learned loads. CMI prepared me well for the industry. I’ve also AD’d four music videos under pro director Andy Hylton who is behind some serious hits! Having him trust me with so much responsibility was incredible and quickly gained invaluable lessons about the industry. It’s been a productive four years since graduating. With multiple film and theatre projects under my belt.
What classes and learning experiences at CMI were the most valuable in building towards your current job?
Screenwriting and Senior Thesis with Professor Ilana Lapid were the most valuable classes for me in terms of becoming a storyteller. Professor Lapid was an incredible mentor to me, and I learned so much from her. She had a lot of patience for me, especially in screenwriting. I remember when I didn’t understand the art form, but I wanted to, and then I remember the day where screenwriting and structure finally clicked! Now, stories of all kind are a welcomed challenge, but without this mentorship it wouldn’t be this comfortable directing the things I direct . Professor Lapid supervised my senior thesis film “Buffalo” she gave us the courage to cast a professional actor, and fulfill the potential she saw in myself and my crew. The film went on to screen at the Cannes Film Festival. I’m still amazed by the experience. I learned many things during my time at CMI, but learning how to tell a story well has been the most valuable. In my own words “Story Reigns King” to the filmmaking process.
I’m always working. My mind is full of ideas and there is always something to create. I consider it practice. I try to spend my time wisely in a way that makes me a better filmmaker. Every project I do should propel you forward a little bit. I enjoy theatre, film acting, performing slam poetry and rapping on the side. All those things help me in someway or another. Learning how to communicate feelings and emotions inside of me and translating them into a medium of art. All art translates across all forms, and each art form benefits from practice in another. When I’m not working on art though. I like mountain biking and participating in most sports. I’m a very competitive person. Which helps in t his very competitive industry.
What’s some advice you would give a CMI student (or maybe potential CMI student) about their time at CMI?
The professors are an amazing resource. Learn from them. Spend time with them. Ask them questions. Consult with them. They are full of wisdom.
Practice! Practice! Practice! Shoot as much as possible. Whatever your specialism is. Filmmaking is a language. You have to learn it. Dive in head first and immerse yourself. The more you practice, the better you’ll be. Don’t worry about being bad. Your first films are supposed to be terrible. Make all the mistakes in film school, so you don’t make the mistakes in the professional world. Explore. Fail. Practice. Find your creative voice. Find your creative tribe. Surround yourself with likeminded creatives and stop at nothing to become better filmmakers pushing yourselves towards each others goals.
Where can people see your work?
What’s next for you?
My main priority now is learning how to embody this teaching gig. The more I grow into will translate to growth as a director. Filmmaking boils down to communication, so the same way I’m learn ing how to communicate concepts and ideas to these students is the same way I’ll have to communicate concepts and ideas to my crew, producers, an d investors. There’s no such thing as too much practice. (sometimes). It’s also nice to go with the flow.
I’m currently developing two feature screenplays – one drama and one comedy, and a new media series for London based production company, Story Is land. I shoot commercials as well, with an auto commercial airing throughout the state during the course of the Winter Olympics.
Anything else you’d like to say?
It’s a hard industry. Be aware of it. The more you’re aware of the business the more you’ll realize about how much it takes to be apart of it. My actor from Buffalo, Craig Tate who had just had a role in Twelve Years A Slave told me when I visited him in New Orleans. “It ain’t easy, but it’s simple.” Meaning – If you want to run a marathon in six months. You need to wake up every morning at 5am before work or school, an d train in order to run the race properly. It’s not EASY, but it is SIMPLE. You gotta put the effort in. You have to hustle. You have to grind. It’s a struggle. Often I feel up against in an immovable force, but you ‘re always gaining ground. Have faith in yourself and DO WORK! LET’S GO!