All about me questionnaire

I know, my posts have been few and far between lately.  Sorry.  ISN’T IT ROMANTIC? is just about finished and I’ve been busy working to promote it, as well as seeking out suitable film festivals and other avenues of distribution.  I’m also working on two major writing projects as well brainstorming ideas for my next film.

I came across something that may interest my minuscule group of readers.  I found it on the one of the excellent blogs I follow, “shoegaze and cats”.  It is a questionnaire designed by Ania.  I think it’s fun to learn about the writers I read, so I’ve decided to post my answers to the questions here.

1. What are your values/priorities in life?

I value my family and close friends.  Honesty with others and myself.  I want to constantly grow as a person and to reach my full potential.  I want to continue to express myself through the medium of film, entertaining and hopefully enlightening others.  Maybe if I’m fortunate, there will be one person out there I can touch in the way that my favorite filmmakers have touched me.

2. What is your zodiac sign? Do you match its description?

I’m a Gemini and it’s uncanny how closely I match its description.  At the risk of sounding less than humble, I am intelligent and creative with a very fast mind.  I’m spontaneous and impulsive, very good at improv and extremely energetic.  I also have dual sides to my personality, kind of a light and dark, yin and yang kind of thing.  More on this in the introvert/extrovert question.

3. Do you have a pet? If you do, what kind of a pet is it?

Yes, I have a cat.  I never came up with a name for her, I just call her Kitty.  Very original, huh?  She’s very independent and keeps to herself most of the time.  She only wants attention on her terms, but she’s very affectionate sometimes and keeps me company.

4. Are there any quotes you particularly like?

There are actually two and they come from somewhat bizarre sources.  The first is, “It’s fun to have fun, but you have to know how”.  It’s from Doctor Suess’ “The Cat in the Hat”.  I remember it from childhood and I think it’s so important to have fun whenever I can.  The other is from “Amazing Fantasy # 15” the comic book that launched Spider-man, one of my heroes.  “With great power, there must also come great responsibility”.  That’s the original quote, it was altered in the Sam Raimi film.  Corny, I know, but I truly believe it and it’s one of the guiding principles of my life.

5. What song would you pick up as a soundtrack to your life? If you cannot choose one, take several :)

This is tricky.  I would have to choose an actual soundtrack, with different songs for different aspects of my life.  In terms of my work as an artist I would choose Annie Ross’ “Twisted”.  It’s an obscure jazz tune that Woody Allen used under the opening titles of DECONSTRUCTING HARRY.  If you’re curious, you can find it on YouTube.  Basically the song is about my analyst thinking I’m crazy, but I believe my eccentricities are a sign of genius.  I recently told someone this and she thought it was a little self-absorbed.  I have to say I agree with that, but I’m a confident guy.  At least when it comes to my talent.

Another song that I’ve always loved that has a place in my life is Cole Porter’s “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”.  I prefer the Sinatra version to Frankie Valli.  Over the last year I went through a pretty intense experience.  I was insanely attracted to a female friend.  I seriously have never wanted a woman more in my life.  The lyrics of that song matched how I was feeling exactly.  Especially the part about “the warning voice that comes in the night and repeats and repeats in my ear, don’t you know little fool, you never can win”  I didn’t win the girl of my dreams (no surprise there) but I did confess my feelings to her, she was really understanding and we became closer friends because of it.  Very cool.

6. Who are the most important people in your life?

My son would be first.  He’s a terrific kid, a bio-chem major.  I’m very proud of him and we have a great relationship.  My mother and brother.  I am very close to my family.  They are so supportive of everything I do.  Also my writing partner and co-star on ISN’T IT ROMANTIC? She is by far the best creative partner I have ever had and I can honestly say, the movie would not have been made without her.  We plan to continue to work together.  We’re a really good team.

7. Do you believe in life after death? If yes, how do you imagine it will look like?

I don’t.  For that reason, I don’t want to be buried in a suit.  What am I dressing up for?  Put me in something comfortable.

8. What are your greatest passions/hobbies?

Naturally, first would be film.  I love writing in general, especially screenwriting and now that I’ve experienced it firsthand, I love the entire filmmaking process.  I also love music and reading and sports, especially hockey.  Philosophy is something I’m passionate about as well.  I love to ponder all of life’s deepest questions.  I will never have the answers but it really is all about the search.

9. If you could choose any job in the world, which one would you choose?

It would be exactly the career I am pursuing, writing and directing films.  I also plan to find the time at some point to get back into stand up comedy.  I really miss it.  I could not be happy if I wasn’t expressing myself creatively.

10. How do you like to dress? Do you stick to a particular style?

I wear what’s comfortable.  I am the least fashionable person on the planet.  I don’t begrudge those who have a style.  To each his own, but I have never believed that clothes make the man.  Who I am is not something I can put on and take off.  I’m very low maintenance.  Besides, it’s doesn’t matter what I wear, nothing looks good on me.  I’m just not an attractive person.  Not physically anyway.

11. What’s your most favourite book/writer?

Tough question, there are many writers I admire.  Since the question mentions books, I will go with my favorite novelist/short story writer, Ernest Hemingway.  I got hooked in high school and reread his work all the time.

12. Are you more of an extrovert or an introvert?

Ah, back to being a Gemini.  I can be both to an extreme degree.  There are times when I am in social situations and feel uncomfortable.  I will just blend into the background, not say a word and no one even knows I’m there.  Other times, I can be the absolute life of the party.  I talk to everyone, joke with them, make them feel comfortable.  It was something I was proud of when I shot the movie.  My actors all commented on how I made them feel appreciated and on my warmth.  Fascinating aspect of my personality and something I don’t have a lot of control over.

13. If you could perfect one of  the skills you already have or dream of having, which one would it be?

Interesting question.  I am tempted to say my writing.  I’ve always said, I am first and foremost a writer.  But I am very confident of my writing skills and I work to improve them all the time, quite successfully.  So, I  would have to say my business skills.  Right now, they are pretty much nonexistent.  But to be a successful filmmaker, I have to get really good at promotion, networking and raising money through investors.  I’ve got to be a salesman.  That is one of my goals for this year, to improve those skills.  I’m actually doing fairly well so far.  To perfect them would free me to make the films I want to.  Nice to think about.

14. Do you have a role model? Is there some historical figure/celebrity/family member you admire?

I don’t model myself on anyone, I like the fact that I am, like everyone in the world, a unique individual.  I do have a number of influences but to single out one is very easy.  Woody Allen.  I’m talking about the artist, his personal life is not something I would emulate, but it is none of my business.  I admire the way he always strives to grow as an artist, trying new things.  I like that he is not afraid to fail and that he makes the films he wants to make and serves no master.  It’s what I strive to do myself.

15. What do you usually do to lift your mood?

Music is very helpful.  I love jazz and there are a number of recordings that make me feel good.  There are also movies that I watch that can snap me out of a funk, and now that includes my own.  Not that I’m saying it’s on the level of the others, just that I am proud of the accomplishment and it reminds me of what I am capable of doing.

16. What are your top 5 websites that you visit daily or most often?

My GMail account, I get tons of emails and many of them are important.  My film’s Facebook page and Twitter account because I am still promoting it.  IMDBPro.  I love researching films and filmmakers.  LinkedIn.  It’s a great networking site.  I’ve gotten work from it and found people to help with my projects.  My profile was one of the top 5% viewed last year.  I’m learning!

17. Where would you live if you could choose any place in the world?

My hometown, the greatest city in the world and the center of the universe, New York. (Okay, I’m just a little biased)  It’s such a great center of culture and the arts and I feel more comfortable there than anywhere.  I still live very close and get into the city all the time.  But I’m going to move back when I can finally afford to.

18. Do you like your flat/house or would you like to move somewhere else?

My place is okay, but it’s small.  I would love to have more space.  I’m here for financial reasons, but I am working very hard to change that.

19. What do you carry in your bag?

Being a guy I don’t carry a bag but in my pockets I carry my wallet, my keys, my phone, my money and a small picture of my son as a baby in a lucite case.  I keep my cash in a separate pocket and not in my wallet because when I was a child my father told me that people from New York never put money in their wallets.  I don’t know how true that is, but he never did and neither do I.

20. Which countries would you like to visit?

Italy for sure.  France, England and Sweden.  I have family in Sweden.  I would love to visit Japan too.

21. What’s your biggest dream (if you can tell, of course)?

To be able to make whatever films I choose.  Making a lot of money and winning awards would be nice, but as long as I can make them, I would be happy.  Since we are talking dream here, I will throw this in.  I would love to win an Oscar, preferably for Best Original Screenplay, but Best Director would be cool too.

22. If you won the lottery, what would be the first thing you would buy?

I can think of a few things, but the question is the first thing.  A ’63 Corvette Split Window Coupe.  My favorite car of all time.  I’ve loved them since I was a kid.  Very impractical, but you’re supposed to have fun when you win the lottery.

23. If you compare yourself five years ago and now, what has changed?

I’ve made a lot of progress in that time span.  I am much more confident.  I am actively and aggressively pursuing my dreams and goals now.  I’ve made tremendous progress in dealing with my depression and anxiety issues.  I am happy to say that I am in a much better place.

24. Do you speak any foreign languages? Would you like to learn any in the future?

Language fascinates me.  I speak Italian fairly well and some Spanish.  There is a growing Latino community in the town I live in and I like to make small talk in Spanish when I can .  As I stated earlier, I have family in Sweden and I do know a little Swedish.  I would love to become fluent.

25. What are your biggest strengths and your biggest weaknesses?

My strengths:  My intelligence, talent, sense of humor, determination, toughness, compassion and ability to read people.

My weaknesses: My temper, impulsiveness at times, my difficulty making phone calls (getting better though) reluctance to ask for help even when I need it, procrastination, inability to focus and the way I sometimes skip meals and sleep while working on a project.  Not healthy.

26. What skills do your friends ask you to teach them? What kind of advice do people turn to you for?

I’m proud to say my fellow writers often ask me to read and critique their work.  This goes back to my stand up days when my comedian friends would always ask me to write with them and wanted my opinion on their material.  Other filmmakers also ask my opinion on their movies.  My brother is great.  He looks up to me and asks my advice on many different things.  It’s a good feeling to be respected and I love helping him.

In the Home Stretch

My onscreen directing credit for "Isn't It Romantic?"

My onscreen directing credit for “Isn’t It Romantic?”

There it is, boys and girls.  My actual directing credit, captured from the final cut of ISN’T IT ROMANTIC?  One of my long time dreams come true.  My editor took my basic white letters on black and tweaked it nicely.  The sign is part of the marquee of the Warner Theater in Torrington, CT where we shot the opening scene.  Woody Allen-ish, but my own unique take.  Very nice.

This past Tuesday, we had the first public screening of the movie.  It was for my cast, crew and family and friends.  The film is still not quite finished, it still needs a sound mix and color correction, but we have picture lock and the team was anxious to see it.  We had a little party and projected it onto a screen, the only way a movie should be seen.

It was a nice night, a success.  The film got a good round of applause and we watched it twice.  I got a rush of adrenaline I haven’t felt since my stand up days.  It was wonderful seeing the team again and reveling in our achievement.  Great to reminisce about the fun we had making it.

We had a professional sound mixer who was going to do the mix for free.  He was a friend of my cowriter.  Unfortunately, he had to drop out due to other commitments.  No problem at all.  I am really getting the hang of filmmaking.  Networking is rapidly becoming one of my skills.  I put out some feelers and picked up a number of candidates.  Today, we chose a very good mixer who is going to do the job for a price that fits the budget.  We also received a very generous donation from one of Tuesday night’s guests to pay for the mixer.  This project has been blessed.

Needless to say, I am feeling very good indeed.  I am expanding my skill set and my contacts.  I feel very good about my future in filmmaking.  My cowriter and I are working on a feature length romantic comedy and we also have a short in the works to shoot later this year, most likely late spring or summer.  I am even thinking of shooting two shorts this year, maybe another in the fall.

“ISN’T IT ROMANTIC?” is going to get plenty of festival exposure.  We have already been accepted to one.  We are going to be reviewed by an online film magazine and I am looking into several avenues of distribution.  My goal from day one was not merely to make a movie, but to make a good movie.  Mission accomplished.  I now have something nice to show potential investors for future projects.  Projects about which I will blog.  Can’t let down my loyal fans.

I am truly thrilled.  So nice to finally see that directed by credit.