My most recent film, Esmeralda, offers a comedic look into a struggling relationship.
The girl next door meets the girl under the bed.
Mitch's life gets turned upside down when his girlfriend finds the metaphorical—and literal—monster under his bed on the day she's supposed to move in.
I conceived of Esmeralda when a friend told me he bought a sex doll—not the one in the movie. This new knowledge forced me to grapple with a huge question. How open-minded am I? Even in the world of kink positivity and polyamory, owning a sex doll is still the mark of an incel. Yet here was an opportunity to help a friend through his sexual shame. With his blessing, I decided to explore this question in the form of a relationship dramedy.
One of Esmeralda's unique qualities is it was shot on an iPhone. Inspired by movies like Tangerine and High Flying Bird, it felt like the proper creative choice to discuss sex and romance in the modern age. We were able to design intimate, chaotic shots around the phone's size.
48 Hour Competitions
As a way to stay sharp between projects—and have a little fun—my friends and I have entered three 48 hour film competitions. In these contests, each team must write, shoot, and edit a short film based on the festival's prompt in 48 hours.
So far, the team has won competitions through the Astoria Film Festival and the Cinema Arts Center of Huntington. We just submitted to the Russo Brothers' No Sleep 'Til Film Fest and are eagerly awaiting the result.
One afterparty. One empty bottle. Four suspects.
The Astoria Film Festival 555 competition's winning film, WHODRUNKIT was shot over one weekend in Vermont. My role in the film revolved around helping to develop the story and doing location sound—while also playing the lead.
Ballad Of The Modern Man
When a singer from the 1920s finds himself in the future, he writes a song to make sense of the strange new world.
This short won the Cinema Arts Center of Huntington's 48 hour competition, which came with a $500 cash prize. The film played before every movie shown at the center for a week.
On this project, I recorded all music and dialogue, co-edited the project, and made contributions to the story.
My first film was New Shoes. As the writer, director, producer, and post-production supervisor, making New Shoes helped me grow quickly in every aspect of filmmaking.
Shoes make the man, and Clayton's are falling apart.
Clayton's life is a mess. He has no job, everyone hates him, and his beloved (only) pair of shoes are literally falling off his feet. On the eve of an important job interview, Clayton embarks on an unwelcome odyssey to find an identical new pair.
Since childhood, I've resisted change, large and small—especially small. Moving was never hard, but taking off the football jersey my dad got me for Christmas was so painful you'd think it was sewn onto my body. Shoes especially took on an unhealthy power. I'd wear them until I could no longer comfortably go out in the rain, but the thought of throwing them away was unbearable.
New Shoes is a story about how an unwillingness to change in small ways can hold us back. Making this movie was equal parts challenging and cathartic. Conveying the significance of an old pair of shoes was difficult, but doing so helped me to move on from old ideas. Today, not a single of my several pairs of shoes have holes in them.
In Memoriam for the Cancelled
New Shoes was my first short film, but my first foray into filmmaking of any kind was a project called In Memoriam for the Cancelled, as a spoof of the Oscars tradition. I conceived of the project in 2019 after thinking about how many celebrities and media personalities have been 'dying off' (getting cancelled and removed from public life after committing unforgivable acts).
Within a few weeks, I started brainstorming with my co-collaborators Deanna Director and Jeff Greenspan to figure out "the right way" to pull it off. Good satire reflects a situation and adds to the conversation humorously, and we spent long nights debating how to do both.
We spent hours juxtaposing slides in a way that would (hopefully) make people laugh and think, designing the project specifically to be displayed on a large billboard on the Lower East Side. Then, we recruited an orchestra and singer to make people feel like they were there. A few nights before the Oscars, we filmed the display and reactions from passersby. The next few days were spent furiously editing for a social media push on the night of the awards. Here is the final product:
I'm obsessed with cancel culture. What gets you cancelled? Can you be un-cancelled? Is there a spectrum, or is it all the same? When somebody gets cancelled, it happens as an isolated incident. We don't think of them as part of a group of other cancelled people, songs, or TV characters. It's easy to throw the term "cancelled" around, but it's hard to give it a single meaning. What feelings does it evoke in people to see Kevin Spacey and Rosanne Barr occupy the same space? Is that even OK to do?
Some found the project inspiring—a way to keep the conversation going. A few people thought it was tasteless. Others saw it as a sort of expression of free speech. Lots just thought it was funny. More people than anybody anticipated argued that we shouldn't have included Michael Jackson and couldn't grasp anything past that.
Feedback was mostly positive, but the best part was seeing people (especially those on the street the night of) interact with this piece differently, have different opinions, and talk to each other. So much of the debate about cancel culture takes place online, remotely. It felt important to have a conversation in person.
I'm currently in the final stages of post-production on another movie—Death Mask. Please subscribe to my website for updates on this project and more.