Fast Forward Friday with Kerri Lynn Miller

miller_kerriap8a7203rtsmallFor this week’s Fast Forward Friday, we interviewed actor-producer-writer Kerri Lynn Miller.  She has acted in numerous New York theatre productions, independent films and as well as featured roles on TV shows such as Royal Pains, BlueBloods and Odd Mom Out. Her latest project which she starred in and produced is a short film titled Etymology.  For more information about Kerri click here.

Q: What are you currently working on?  Tell us about it.

I am an actor, writer, producer and mom.  I am so excited that we are birthing our short film Etymology out into the world via festival submissions. Our team just started the process and we are very excited to see where Etymology finds its audience.

Q: What was the inspiration and impetus for doing this project?

Women are constantly sold unattainable and conflicting expectations about who we are supposed to be. Because of this, I believe we all struggle with some form of perfectionism. I was drawn to producing Etymology because it reveals an ugly side of perfectionism specifically related to a mother daughter relationship.  It explores the roots of perfectionism and the consequences it has on ourselves and our daughters.  As an actor, I was drawn to the darkness in my character Catherine.  

Q: Who are your artistic heroes – who have had an impact on you and your work?

I gravitate to movies that explore perfectionism, failure and shame.  I love Hillary Swank’s performance under the direction of Kimberly Peirce in Boys Don’t Cry and her performance in Million Dollar Baby. I find inspiration watching David O’ Russel’s movies, my favorite being Silver Linings PlaybookMy favorite movie is Goodwill Hunting. The scene between Matt Damon and Robin Williams – “It’s not your fault”  – will always touch me.  

Q: What keeps you motivated and inspired as an artist?  

Above all else, I love connecting with others.  As an actress, I love those moments when you are so present that you get lost.  As a filmmaker, I love sharing stories that make me feel vulnerable.  It’s scary to be vulnerable in your work but that is where the “gold” of creativity lies and where authentic connection comes from.

Q: What other projects would you like to tell us about?

I have a feature film in development that I have been working on for four years.  It’s a passion project of mine, and near and dear to my heart. I will be looking to secure investors early next year.

 I just wrapped a new and currently untitled series for LMN (Lifetime Movie Network).  It was such a fun role to act!  My director told me to watch Basic Instinct to prepare for my role.  No, there wasn’t a crotch scene, but lots of seducing, betrayal and manipulation in the name of my character’s next book.  

Q: What is one instance of knowing you are living in your vision?

Recently, we did a small screening of Etymology with a group of moms.  At the end of the short film, we recorded their individual feedback ….  I was floored.  These moms were moved to tears. They saw themselves in the main character and could relate to her struggle.  It was during these interviews that I felt a sense of satisfaction.  I thought, “No matter what happens with this film, it was a success.”  We connected with these moms in an authentic way.  It was a win and as far as I am concerned, everything else is gravy.  

Q: If there were no barriers to entry, what is one thing you would be doing?

There is a movement happening with women in film.  Barriers are being broken as we speak.  I am so proud to be a part of this time in history and I am excited by all the opportunity. If there were no barriers, I would be doing exactly what I am doing now but at a higher level.  

Q: What has been big your biggest obstacle in achieving your vision?

I think there is an opportunity to inspire more female investors for film.  We need to have our stories told because these stories will be the ones that shape our future generations. They will empower our young daughters of tomorrow.

Q: What do you do to stay connected to your creative self?

I am my most creative when I am in a joyful space.  I create my joy through being in nature, spending time with my family, playing with my dog, journaling, dance parties in the kitchen and working out.

Q: If you could let go of something that has held you back, what would it be?

Perfectionism.  I am a recovering perfectionist and I know that I have often let the judgement of others impede my progress at times.  I would let go of all the times I placed pleasing someone above being truthful to myself.

Q: What is your favorite piece of art?

I am obsessed with Laurent Bahaux’s photographs of lions and elephants in Africa.  My favorite shot is Criniere De Lion.  It’s magical!

Q: What person do you most admire, living or dead?

Albert Einstein.  He seemed to have all the laws of the universe figured out.  He could give me a road map.

Q: If you could be known and celebrated for one thing, what would it be?

 Living joyfully and being an uplifting presence to those I came in contact with.

Q: If you could describe yourself in one word what would it be?

Dancing!

Q: What is your guilty pleasure?

Without a doubt, raw cookie dough! Yummy!

Q: If you could sit down with yourself 15 years ago, what would you say?

I would say: “You’re enough.” Funny thing is, I’m still telling myself that today.  I’m learning it’s a practice.  

Q: Where would you most like to live?

I would like to be bi-coastal and travel the world.  It’s not so much about where I live as who I am sharing my life with.  I love exploring and seeing as many different parts of this world as possible.

Q: What is your idea of success?

Freedom to create stories and characters and share them at the highest level.  Freedom to travel and spend time enjoying life with the people I love.  Having a beautiful space to live in.  Being surrounded by laughter and well-being.  Feeling a sense of ease and flow in my life. Joy. I want it all.

Q: What is your idea of happiness?

Gosh, I think it’s the same thing as success.  Above all else, happiness is feeling good when you wake up and feeling good when you go to sleep.  Rinse, Repeat.  

Q: Final Thoughts?

Nope, because I’m a work in progress, nothing is final.

Finding Inspiration on the Road!

Traveling -It leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller. – Ibn Battutaunnamed

The long days of summer have finally faded into the fall. I have been reflecting on my journey to India in July and about how I can continue to draw inspiration from my experiences in this mystical land. While many people travel during the summer months, if you still have dates circled on your calendar, you can start thinking about how you can use those days of freedom to feed your creative soul.

Experiencing new places and meeting new people can expand your worldview in ways that stay with you even after you return home. The more your surroundings are different than your everyday life, the more you will be challenged. Thing about it – you are a blank slate to the people you meet while on vacation. They do not know your “story” and if there is a language gap, you need to find new ways to communicate even simple needs. Traveling forces you to live in the moment and be connected – something we often often forget to do in our smartphone driven world.

All artists can tap into their creative side while traveling – regardless of whether it is a trip to the beach or down the Nile. Here are some reasons why traveling is one of the best ways to find inspiration.

unnamed-1Experiencing new surroundings

New experiences can bring about new ideas. The memories stay with you long after you are back home, and can help you look at your everyday surroundings with new eyes.You will appreciate the beauty thatunnamed-2 surrounds you and may even find creative inspiration in things you took for granted or considered routine.

Meeting new people

If you are traveling abroad, chances are you will meet people from many different countries, with beliefs and customs different than yours. Through simple conversations, you can not only challenge long-held belief systems, but you can find unexpected inspiration in the stories you hear. Maybe one night when you are staring at a blank page or canvass, a sliver of a memory will come back to you and get the creative juices flowing.

Learning to leap

While travel mishaps are never fun or welcome, they can be sometimes be a source of inspiration and a reminder how important it is to embrace the unknown and not to be too attached to expectations. After you are home, you can reflect on your experiences, both good and challenging and find creative outlets for expressing what you’ve experienced, seen and heard. Your personal art is a perfect way to deepen your connection to a place.

The Latest News from the Zip Creative Community

Naomi McDougall Jones has just brought on Emmy Award-Winning casting director Judy Henderson to cast her second feature film, Bite Me, which will be going into production in Spring 2017 with up-and-coming Canadian director Hannah Cheesman (Whatever, Linda); and producers Jack Lechner (Blue Valentine), Jonathan Bronfman (The Witch)  and Sarah Wharton (That’s Not Us). She is just launching a major women’s film fund will be giving a TEDxTalk in Boston on November 19 on the effect the lack of women in film has on our daily lives and the ways in which we have the power to change it.

Amy Guggenheim‘ s Intrinsic Value has just launched – a new consulting service for filmmakers and others to address their writing needs such as pitches, concept, director’s statements and visual materials. She also did a test shoot for her dramatic feature film When Night Turns To Day with actors, Kendo Players, sword choreographer and more.

Shari Berman has just completed her Super 8 experimental film Woman and will be directing a surreal short film titled Giving Notice, written by Christopher Dunlop. Her second feature film Sugar! began its festival tour last month and has already won major awards in all four festivals it has played including the latest   at the The Glendale International Film Festival (Los Angeles) where it won 3 awards- Best Female Director for Shari, Best Actress (Alice Ripley) and Best Cinematography (Fletcher Wolfe). Upcoming screenings of Sugar! include The Big Apple Film Festival and the High Falls Film Festival.

“Three Trembling Cities,” a new webseries written and directed by client Arthur Vincie, is coming out online in October!  The 10-part fiction/doc series is an intimate portrait of the inner lives of a group of immigrants, as they struggle to live and thrive in NYC.  Here is the first trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQ6wznHnZuA

Kerstin Karlhuber is currently touring with her feature film Fair Haven on its international festival run. Fair Haven, which has been called, “deftly and meticulously directed”  and “a potent, stirring new film” has been acquired by the Academy Award-winning, worldwide motion picture sales, marketing and distribution firm The Little Film Company. Kerstin was lucky enough to attend the Cannes Film Festival in May, where Fair Haven was featured in Le Marche du Film. The film is also currently playing theatrically in Germany and more territories are releasing soon. Kerstin is actively developing two new narrative films and a limited series.

This past summer, Ian Belton launched the 24 Hour Film Festival while he continues to develop Operation Babylon for the screen and Baghdad Radio  for the stage. In January 2017, there will be the first public showing of his new musical collaboration with Jim Findlay called Electric Lucifer.

Danijela Stajnfeld has been working on the documentary film titled Hold Me Right, about the aftermath of sexual assault. Visit the website for a trailer and mission statement. They conducted about 30 interviews with survivors of sexual assault from various backgrounds and stories throughout the country. With this film, they hope to produce a “live pamphlet” of how to understand and be there for the survivors of sexual abuse, to raise awareness and aim to stop this silent epidemic of crime in all parts of our society. The film will be translated into 10 languages and released in the early 2017.

Sarah Krusen is a video editor and writer currently working full-time as an assistant editor at a commercial post-house in Manhattan.  Before commercials – Sarah co-edited and post-supervised a feature documentary-drama filmed in Bosnia; was the lead editor for a docu-drama filmed in Michigan; traveled the globe filming and editing wedding videos; and freelanced for a variety of clients.  Be sure to check out her work at sarahkrusen.com.

Jonathan Flowers teaches piano, voice, and music theory/composition to children, teens, and adults through his studio Mindful Music in the Philadelphia area. His innovative teaching approach incorporates mindfulness practices to help students enhance mental focus, creativity and relaxation. In addition to teaching his rapidly expanding clientele and performing concerts as a pianist, Jonathan recently presented lectures on mindfulness for Pennsylvania Music Teachers’ Association and West Chester University. He is presently working on a book and forthcoming blog The Mindful Musician.

Fast Forward Friday with Bat-Sheva Guez

Adventure Pants April 12, 2015 Brooklyn, NYFor this week’s Fast Forward Friday, we interviewed writer-director-editor-producer Bat-Sheva Guez. She has directed more than a dozen short films and screened them in festivals worldwide including the Hamptons International Film Festival, the Rhode Island International Film Festival and the HollyShorts Film Festival. To Learn more about Bat-Sheva click here.

Q: What are you currently working on?  Tell us about it.

Right now, I am finishing up the festival tour for my short film Behind the Wall, which has screened at 20 festivals worldwide, picking up many awards along the way; and I am also in the financing stages of a magical realism film called And How She … This is an art world drama seasoned with magic, experimental sequences and a dash of whimsy. It’s a story about a  young artist named Asha who embarks on a collaboration with an established artist in the midst of his own creative crisis.  But the balance of power is skewed and Asha’s creative identity, not-yet-formed, becomes swallowed up by his.  She must decide whether to be an invisible part of someone else’s work or to start over, anonymous and alone.  So she seeks advice from her neighbors: eccentric, elderly folk with their own kind of street magic.

Q: What was the inspiration and impetus for doing this project?

I wanted to tell a tale that followed different magical encounters in a Brooklyn neighborhood, one where the neighborhood itself plays a role in the story.  And I was inspired to retell a tale I had seen of young artists in my own life, friends of mine, who found themselves laboring as the invisible part of someone else’s work, an invisible part of a larger ego or artist’s brand.

I was so curious about this dynamic.  What would make a young artist stick around in a situation like this?  What were they receiving from this sort of a relationship? The more I looked, the more stories like these that I found, stories of invisible artists who were an unknown part of a famous artist’s – or filmmaker’s or musician’s – work.  In my mind, an image formed of a small fish swimming in the belly of a massive fish, alive and safe and traveling fast, but alone in the dark – like a Gepetto or a Jonah.

Q: What films have had an impact on you and your work?

I really love Julie Taymor’s Frida,  Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures, Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth.  I’ve also been influenced by Amelie, Velvet Goldmine, Strictly Ballroom, Tideland, Y Tu Mama Tambien as well as Israeli films like Jellyfish, The Farewell Party, and Zero Motivation.  I think when it comes down to it, I respond strongly to films that are beautiful, films that incorporate a strand of magic in the narrative and weave subtle humor into everyday tragedies.

Q: What keeps you motivated and inspired as an artist?  

I really love directing.  So when I am on set, even if it’s a work-for-hire project or directing practice scenes with actors in a Director’s Collective, I’m reminded why I chose this line of work.  That’s when I feel like my most complete self. It keeps me fired up to keep doing this.

Q: What other projects would you like to tell us about?

I’ve just finished a dance film featuring a dreamy and nostalgic pole-dance  set in outer space.  It was a collaboration with the talented performer Jessi Jamz Colon.

Q: What is one instance of knowing you are living in your vision?

I was recently hired to direct a video about an experimental theater company.  On the day of the location scout, I felt that familiar thrill of curiosity.  I love the rare moments of my career where I get to actively participate in the world and experience a tiny taste of someone else’s life.  In my line of work, you can just as easily find me in a power plant as you would in a musty costume room of an old theater or in the living room of a concert violinist.  I love the variety of functions/duties that a director performs in her daily life, like taking the train to a previously unvisited street in Manhattan at an unorthodox time in the afternoon to ask a stranger how best to capture his life on film.

Q: If there were no barriers to entry, what is one thing you would be doing?

I would be shooting my feature film right now.  No question.

Q: What has been big your biggest obstacle in achieving your vision?

At the moment?  I need the funds to shoot this feature film.  I feel like the man from the musical Gypsy who sings: “Got my tweed pressed, /got my best vest. /All I need now is the girl. / Got my striped tie, / got my hopes high / got the time and the place and I got rhythm / Now all I need is the girl to go with ‘em.”

Only replace the word “girl” with “dough” and that’s pretty much where I am!

Q: What do you do to stay connected to your creative self?

I try to play and experiment when I can.  It helps to just be making things all the time.  

Q: If you could let go of something that has held you back, what would it be?

Fear and self-doubt.

Q: If you could describe yourself in one word what would it be?

Curious.

Q: What is your guilty pleasure?

I  find it ridiculously soothing to watch sitcoms where friends hang out.  Lately,  the show New Girl has been my guilty pleasure of choice.    

Q: If you could sit down with yourself 15 years ago, what would you say?

I don’t know actually. I feel like any advice I would give myself of 15 years ago might be the wrong advice.  The life of a filmmaker is not an easy one. There’s a lot of obstacles, a lot of rejection, long stretches of poverty and a lot of work that doesn’t look anything like directing.  Fifteen years ago, I was so ready to embark on that life, open and enthusiastic, and convinced I had something new to contribute to the art form.   But now I have a lot of battle wounds from this lifestyle.  If you catch me at the wrong moment, I might tell my younger self that she may have been happier in a different line of work.

Or if you catch me at a different time, I might tell her, “just go and shoot your feature, don’t worry about writing the perfect script.”  But I’m not sure that’s the best advice either.   I think the years I have spent practicing this craft, getting better at directing and better at writing, though while delaying the release of my first feature, will have helped to make it a better one.

Q: Where would you most like to live?

For most of my life, this answer has been the same: Brooklyn!  It’s where I’ve wanted to live ever since I was a little girl when my grandmother took me to NYC for a visit in first grade. And happily,  this is where I do live today.  But the cost of living has become so prohibitive here, that many of my friends have been forced out and it’s possible that the cost will force me out eventually too.  It’s very sad. To feel rejected by a place that I love so much, in a region that was once so welcoming to people of all socio-economic backgrounds, is very unfortunate.  This feeling tends to run through all of my work of late.

Q: What is your idea of success?

My vision of success is to have a career where I am able to direct films, video and tv for a living, and still have enough occasional free time to have a healthy lifestyle, see my friends and family, exercise regularly, eat healthily.  Sometimes in this industry, creative success comes at a high cost to every other aspect of one’s life and health.  And I’m always fighting to find a way to balance these – even if it means doing the healthy things after production ends. I’d also really like to write a book one day.  And in a perfect world, some of the things I make would live after I’m gone, leaving some mark of beauty or inspiration for others who come after me.

Q: What is your idea of happiness?

Happiness for me is having the freedom and ability to create on a regular basis, the freedom to spend time with the people I love, access to people to collaborate with and be inspired by, the freedom and ability to have an active life with dance and running and swimming and hiking – and plenty of easy access to trees.

That’s it.  Thank you!

Fast Forward Friday with Mike Evariste

CourtneyLindbergPhotography_072414_0984For this week’s Fast Forward Friday, we interviewed singer-actor-Tony Award nominated producer Mike Evariste. His latest project is a concert series/show Broadway at the W, which originated in Los Angeles and launched in New York City in July. To learn more about Broadway at the W, click here.

Q: What are you currently working on? Tell us about it.

I’m currently working on a series I produced and created with my best friends called Broadway at the W. The concert series/show takes place in the W Hollywood in Los Angeles and W NY Times Square in New York City, and features Broadway’s hottest touring and New York Broadway shows, along with the incredible cast. We started the series in Los Angeles a year ago and recently launched it here in New York City on July 10. It truly is an authentic Broadway experience. A raw, acoustic, up close and personal evening with Broadway’s brightest talents. Daniel J. Watts of Tony Award winning Hamilton and HBO’s Vinyl hosts the series featuring cast members straight from Broadway and special guest stars from Broadway, TV  and film.

Q: What was the inspiration and impetus for doing this project?

Well, I’ve always thought that Los Angeles could have more of Broadway in the city. I’ve been to LA many times while on tour with shows and I noticed LA folks really loved Broadway, and I could feel there was a yearning and craving for more than just the touring shows that came through the touring houses. Broadway at the W was the perfect vehicle. So, the idea came about when one of my best friends from college – now one of my producing partners –  wanted to do a one night concert version of Jason Robert Brown’s Songs for a New World in Los Angeles. I told her I’d help and produce the concert with her. When it came time to look for a venue we wanted something cool and different – not your typical proscenium. And it was at that point the idea went from a one night concert of Songs for a New World to Broadway at the W. I pitched the idea to the W Hollywood of doing a concert series featuring singers; dancers; live band; special guest singers from TV, film and Broadway; and using the catalog of Broadway and pop songs. They loved the idea!

Q: Who are your artistic heroes – who have had an impact on you and your work?

My artistic heroes are honestly my peers who I see and witness doing incredible things on and off the stage. Not only are they acting, singing and dancing eight times a week on Broadway, but they’re writing, directing, choreographing, producing, recording albums, doing commercials, starring in TV shows, starring in films. It really inspires me. If I had to name a few individuals they would be Casey Nicholaw, Broadway director for The Book of Mormon, Aladdin and Something Rotten; Chris Gatelli, Broadway choreographer for South Pacific, Newsies and The King and I;  and Josh Bergasse, Broadway choreographer for On the Town and NBC’s Smash for paving the way for Broadway performers to not having to limit ourselves to only performing eight times a week on Broadway. What they all have in common is they were all once Broadway performers and are now very successful Tony and Emmy Award winners.

Q: What keeps you motivated and inspired as an artist?

One of the things that keeps me motivated is my loving family. My mother, father  and grandparents have been so supportive in everything I’ve done and have sacrificed so much for me and my career. The second thing that keeps me motivated and inspired is the genuine love I have for creativity. I love seeing what begins as an idea in my head, turn into something tangible and comes into fruition. It’s so much work but so rewarding and creatively fulfilling.

Q: What other projects would you like to tell us about?

I’m very excited about two independent films I’m a producer on that are coming out in 2016/17 – Pass the Light and Construction. Both great films with great messages. I also optioned an incredible book based on a true story that I’m working on adapting for television called To Vegas and Back written by an amazing person and author, Suzanne Krauss. Lastly, developing a new Broadway show called Beauty and the Bulldog.

Q: What is one instance of knowing you are living in your vision?

When celebrities you watched on TV as a child are now acting across from you. When Broadway stars you would mimic and sing along to on Broadway cast albums are now singing and acting alongside of you in New York City on a Broadway stage. When you’re taking phone calls and pitch meetings with Tony Award winning producers, production companies and TV execs. I have to take a step back sometimes and remember to take it all in.

Q: If there were no barriers to entry, what is one thing you would be doing?

Producing TV and film.

Q: What has been big your biggest obstacle in achieving your vision?

Money.

Q: What do you do to stay connected to your creative self?

I see live theater, live entertainment, watch TV and film, and listen to music. Have conversations with every and anyone. I get a lot of my inspiration when I’m by water. I find water to be very calming and rejuvenating for my mind.

Q: If you could let go of something that has held you back, what would it be?

Not being prepared for unforeseen opportunities. Always be prepared because you never know what will be presented to you.

Q: What is your favorite piece of art?

The ocean and palm trees.

Q: What person do you most admire, living or dead?

My mother. She embodies strength, determination, intelligence, will power, beauty and kindness.

Q: If you could be known and celebrated for one thing, what would it be?

My kindness.

Q: If you could describe yourself in one word what would it be?

Genuine.

Q: What is your guilty pleasure?

Cakes and cupcakes.

Q: If you could sit down with yourself 15 years ago, what would you say?

Don’t be so trusting.

Q: Where would you most like to live?

On the beach.

Q: What is your idea of success?

Happiness, financial stability, love, stable career that I love, good health and a loving family.

Q: What is your idea of happiness?

Being surrounded by those you love – family and friends. Having a job and career you love and being in good health.

Q: Final Thoughts?

Thank you for having me as one of your guests.

Fast Forward Friday with Janet Grillo

download For this week’s Fast Forward Friday, we interviewed writer-director-producer Janet Grillo. She is an award winning, critically acclaimed filmmaker, Emmy Award winning producer, former Senior VP of Production/East Coast at New Line Cinema, and Professor at NYU Tisch School of the Arts Kanbar Institute of Film and Television. Her most recent feature Jack of the Red Hearts won the Grand Jury prize at Geena Davis’ Bentonville Film Festival, promoting gender balance and diversity. It was seen by one million people on LIFETIME and is currently available for digital streaming, VOD and DVD. To learn more about Janet and her work, click here.

Q: What are you currently working on? Tell us about it.

Actually, if you don’t mind, I’d rather not say. Maybe it’s superstitious of me and maybe it’s about creative privacy. But while something is gestational, I’m protective of its fragility and would rather not publicize it.

Q: Who are your artistic heroes – who have had an impact on you and your work?

Lisa Cholodenko is a contemporary, American filmmaker I much admire and am inspired by. I revere Billy Wilder; his versatility and craft discipline­­ the way he explored all dimensions of what it means to be human. Even his gossamer romps hold the space for darker truth. They are NOT mutually exclusive! His work resonates with wit and humanity. The same is true for Cholodenko. Nothing is made palatable – ­­it just IS palatable. Because it’s accepted as who we are, what we are and thus can be laughed about, as well as gasped at.

Q: What keeps you motivated and inspired as an artist?

I’m lucky to teach full time at NYU Tisch School of the Arts Undergrad Film/TV Program. My students motivate and inspire me­­ – it’s a virtuous circle. As I teach, I learn. Being in the classroom with these brilliant, ambitious, passionate and optimistic young artists is like going to the storytelling gym for a rigorous workout.

Q: What is one instance of knowing you are living in your vision?

It happened this week … I was taking my dogs for a hike upstate, where I have a weekend “sanity’”house, and am spending the summer. I had spent the morning writing a draft of a script on which I’m collaborating with an esteemed peer (who’s also a delightful woman). I looked out on the Hudson, saw an egret on the shore and deeply appreciated the amazing balance I’ve been blessedly able to achieve; between NYC (working at NYU, constantly stimulated by students and colleagues) and Upstate (work and renewal). I flashed to a fantasy/dream/goal/vision I had when a college student of what my life would be like as an adult ­­and realized I am now living it.

Q: If there were no barriers to entry, what is one thing you would be doing?

I actually think this would be it. Writing and directing stories where I explore what it means to be human. Functioning independently and with full sovereignty. I’m very lucky … and deeply grateful.

Q: What has been big your biggest obstacle in achieving your vision?

My own neurosis … oh, and the overarching sexism/misogyny of the Industrial Entertainment Complex. Yes, that.

Q: What do you do to stay connected to your creative self?

Spend time alone!

Q: If you could let go of something that has held you back, what would it be?

Fear.

Q: What is your favorite piece of art?

Oh gosh … I don’t have a favorite! Too many to recount. What kind of art? What medium? Overwhelmed by the possibilities … lately I’ve been obsessed by Hamilton.

Q: What person do you most admire, living or dead?

Eleanor Roosevelt.

Q: If you could be known and celebrated for one thing, what would it be?

Compassion and putting it into action; rising to the occasion of my disabled child’s needs.

Q: What is your guilty pleasure?

Key and Peele … It’s my happy place. But I don’t feel guilty about it. So does that count?

Q: If you could sit down with yourself 15 years ago, what would you say?

GET OUT OF THERE NOW!

Q: Where would you most like to live?

I’d love to live Upstate full time.

Q: What is your idea of success?

Being happy.

Q: What is your idea of happiness?

Reality minus expectations.

Q: Final Thoughts?

 Thanks for the chance to share these ramblings!   

 

Fast Forward Friday with Robert Blake Whitehill

Photo by www.corsicastudio.com

Photo by www.corsicastudio.com

For this week’s Fast Forward Friday, we interviewed novelist-screenwriter Robert Blake Whitehill. In his Ben Blackshaw Series thrillers, Smith Island native, and Former U.S. Navy SEAL Ben Blackshaw is forced out of a quiet retirement to take on covert missions to defend his nation, his home and the love of his life from invasion, destruction and slaughter, usually on the same day. To learn more about Robert and the series click here.

Q: What are you currently working on? Tell us about it.

 It’s a very exciting time for my Ben Blackshaw thriller book series. It used to be that work meant just me in a room, alone, tapping away on my laptop on the next title. I can’t believe it, but there are actually four books out now and a short story, including Deadrise, Nitro Express, Tap Rack Bang and Geronimo Hotshot.

 In stark contrast to earlier times, today, it’s the laptop and me, as ever, but it also includes four film producers, three from HatLine Productions (Stephanie Bell, Tamra Teig and Michael Lipoma), and Liza Moore Ledford from Northstar. The HatLine team resonated with the action, as well as the constellation of powerful female characters throughout the books. Ledford loved the concept of the freelance citizen soldier defending his family and home. Finding these allies for the franchise in the last year is just wonderful.

So, remember when I said it was just myself, a laptop and an idea? Now there is an entire cohort. And the nucleic moment that really pushed this brand forward came in a chat with Joanne Zippel. She’s the one who suggested that I probably already know or am one introduction away from the people who could help me take the Blackshaw series to the next level. And by damn she was right! Exploratory conversations even led to my working with Richard Marek, discoverer and editor of Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne series  and Thomas Harris’s Silence of the Lambs. What wonderful companions on this journey and I think it’s only just beginning.

 I’ve completed adapting the first book Deadrise into a screenplay. I’m working on adapting the other three books as well.

The current docket also includes developing an app called Blackshaw Country, created in response to many inquiries from readers who want to travel to beautiful Smith Island in the Chesapeake Bay to experience where Blackshaw is from, cram down the delicious food and take in the fresh air, kayaking, birding and fishing, among many other activities. We should be in beta with the app in July.

The Blackshaw books themselves are also being published in German by LUZIFER-Verlag, which purchased all four existing titles at once a year ago. Deadrise Gnadenlose Jagd is already published and is in the Top 100 in Kindle’s Kriminalthriller and Suspense categories on Amazon.de. The plan is to release an additional title every six months or so. We are in negotiation on a translation into Turkish, not to mention that we are in very early talks on graphic novels for the series. It’s been a hell of a year, but it makes me very happy to see Blackshaw move beyond the English language, even if I cannot understand a word of the new editions. That process has been an exercise in letting go of control, and implicitly trusting in the talents and hard work of strangers. Of course, taking early steps toward the screen version has me over the moon. Verbum caro factum est. “The word is made flesh.”

Q: What was the inspiration and impetus for doing this project?

 I love writing screenplays and scripting for TV but I was hounded into writing the first Blackshaw thriller by a dear friend and longtime screenwriting partner Matthew Bialer, who was convinced I’d do justice to the genre. I thought about the Deadrise plot for years, then wrote it and brought it out to great reviews by critics, bloggers and readers alike. Even before Deadrise was published, I already sensed Blackshaw was the kind of character who could anchor a full-on series. He’s a guy who shouldn’t be allowed to disappear after one outing. Within a few months, I was writing the second Blackshaw book Nitro Express. Until recently when the film activity ramped up, I’ve diligently produced one book per year for four years straight. So far this year, screen adaptations and other related writing have pulled me off of drafting the next book even though it’s all sketched out.

Q: Who are your artistic heroes – who have had an impact on you and your work?

My first artistic inspirations are my parents. My mom’s a poet. Dad was an award-winning short story author and novelist. They showed me what a writer looks like doing the actual unglamorous 95% of the job every day. As for subsequent writer touchstones, Jules Verne, James Lee Burke, Scott Smith, Lee Child, Harlan Coben, Carl Hiaasen and Randy Wayne White are tremendous storytellers I admire.

Q: What keeps you motivated and inspired as an artist?

I get wonderful motivation from the Blackshaw readers themselves. I keep going back to that lonely phase of solitary writing. All that labor became worth it when I shook the hands of readers who love the work. They encourage me. They let me know they’re eagerly waiting for news on the next book, or sharing their travels to Smith Island. It’s an exchange I encourage. I’m accessible to readers through social media (@rbwhitehill on Twitter, and Robert Blake Whitehill on Facebook, and by email rbw@robertblakewhitehill.com), so I hear from them every day asking who will play Blackshaw, Ellis, LuAnna, and Chalk in the movie adaptation (still no final word on that question, I’m afraid.) Everybody wants to know if Maynard Chalk is well and truly dead (I cannot confirm or deny—) I wrote that first thriller Deadrise on pure chutzpah. Every word since has been in service of the incredibly learned, appreciative, vocal Blackshaw readers who are ever enthusiastic for more.

Q: What other projects would you like to tell us about?

I am working on several other screenplays that are not part of the Blackshaw world. Working on those make a healthy break from Blackshaw because whenever I return to the Smith Island characters, I’m completely refreshed and ready to explore and write more.

Q: What is one instance of knowing you are living in your vision?

I used to ask media personality (and massive Blackshaw fan) Cyrus Webb when he found time to sleep because he is always so incredibly busy doing interviews. Now I know the answer. He doesn’t. I’ve been up and working since 4:30 a.m. Putting this kind of effort into my work is energizing, not taxing. If I were not living my vision, I couldn’t put in the hours I do.

Q: If there were no barriers to entry, what is one thing you would be doing?

I think a lot about forming a charitable foundation and the kinds of work it would undertake. There would be funding of addiction treatment at a grass roots level, as well as lobbying for policy change on treatments and sentencing laws on a national level. For now, since I’m Quaker, the Friends Committee on National Legislation and the Southern Poverty Law Center, as well as Project Censored, all do an excellent job taking on human rights, nuclear proliferation, campaign finance reform, exposing underreported government and corporate improprieties, and taking down hate groups in the courts.

The biggest barrier to digging in on these issues, as you might have guessed, is time. To a certain extent, I can be an activist in the writing. My feature screenplay UXO (Unexploded Ordnance) deals with the scourge of land mines left behind killing civilians throughout the world long after conflicts are supposedly over. Joanne Zippel helped position that script so that it earned a win at the Hamptons International Film Festival, as well as garnering a fellowship from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Deadrise has an environmental sub-theme. Nitro Express deals with the collusion of corporate media and government to manipulate public opinion. Tap Rack Bang addresses the horrors of human trafficking, and thanks to Joanne Zippel’s activism, it even touches on the barbaric practice of female genital mutilation, which is likely one of the few times that’s ever addressed in the context of popular fiction. Geronimo Hotshot shines a light on racism in America today, from lynching at a local level, to xenophobia as it’s inculcated into our national immigration policy. Blackshaw is a former Navy SEAL, who deals with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, so I take an interest in veterans affairs, and support Homes For Our Troops, as well as Special Operations Warrior Foundation.

I might not have created my own foundation yet but thanks to inspiring activists like Joanne, I can send Blackshaw into the ring as a crusader on our behalf and, if the reviews are to be believed, still tell a damn exciting yarn in the process.

Q: What has been big your biggest obstacle in achieving your vision?

My biggest obstacle to achieving my vision is patience, more specifically, knowing with confidence that my vision is being realized step by step, even if certain milestones and goals have not yet been achieved. The process that was set in motion years ago really is working. The distance my team has covered in the last four years is great. The accomplishments reached in the last year are simply phenomenal. It’s all happening. But I want more for Blackshaw. I want to be sure the dreams are all going to pan out big and wide and fun. The only way I know it will do that, is if they already have happened. Crazy, right? So sometimes I lose touch with the amazing accomplishments already on the scoreboard and skulk around in that gap between where the brand is today and where I know it can ultimately be. This is not so much an obstacle as it is a perception issue.

Q: What do you do to stay connected to your creative self?

I am always connected to my creative self. I study innovations in the entertainment market. I go to movies like it’s a second job. I am a TV addict. I macerate potential Blackshaw plots and characters all the time. My wife catches my attention at the dinner table and sometimes has to reel me in from a million miles away. My creative engine is always running.

Q: If you could let go of something that has held you back, what would it be?

While I’m breathing, there isn’t a damn thing holding me back. I just want to go faster!

Q: What is your favorite piece of art?

I want to climb into George Inness landscapes in the Montclair Art Museum collection. I want to Thomas Crown those babies. Seriously, no other work has made me contemplate art theft like his work does. At home, I’ve acquired several pieces by Native American artist Buffalo Gouge. His larger painting My Son smashed me right between the eyes on a visit to the annual show at the Institute of American Indian Arts some years ago. I moved heaven and earth to get hold of it. Gouge and I stayed in touch, and he did me the great honor of creating art for the cover of the latest Blackshaw book Geronimo Hotshot. The man’s a genius.

Q: What person do you most admire, living or dead?

I admire too many writers and filmmakers to list. The one person I truly admire is my bride Mary. My creativity pales in comparison to hers. She is the hardest working person I know in any context, in any industry. She is raising our son Beau with a loving and ferocious élan. She runs her own advertising company Womanhattan, maintaining and expanding it with an uncompromising attention to every detail of service for her clients. Her privately published illustrated writings for children are mind-bogglingly brilliant. She is completely hilarious, sweet and ,God knows, the most patient person I’ve ever met. I toppled in love with her instantly. I knew I wanted to be her husband less than a week after we first met. I waited two weeks to propose so she wouldn’t think I was completely insane. When she said yes right away  it confirmed she was absolutely my kind of crazy. To say I admire Mary doesn’t do justice to the depth of my feelings for this amazing human being. No one else even comes close in my book.

Q: If you could be known and celebrated for one thing, what would it be?

After being known in smaller circles as a good husband, father and friend – the usual things that get hacked into tombstones because they are the most important – I want to be known for always doing great work. Readers are precious to me. They invest about 15 non-refundable hours of their lives into reading each Blackshaw book. I want them to close every Blackshaw mission and say something like, “Holy crap! What a ride!” because I busted my ass to give them my very best. It’s my personal covenant with Blackshaw readers. So far, the Blackshaw books have been rated straight-A in the Reader Impact Percentages. I never want to slip below that standard. I never want to phone it in. I’ve seen authors capitulate to ennui and keep writing for the buck when they could have taken a rest or packed it in and left a real legacy, not just a list of titles. Great work. That’s something to be celebrated for.

Q: If you could describe yourself in one word what would it be?

There’s no way I could answer that without impeaching my modesty, so I asked my son, Beau, aged 7. He answered, “Daddy.” I’m good with that.

Q: What is your guilty pleasure?

Guilt is just self-criticism. That’s it. Nothing more. No mystical evil power burdening me forever or until I’ve bought some therapist a Mercedes. It’s totally optional. So, if something pleases me, it pleases me, no guilt. Except maybe the french toast at Raymond’s in Montclair. Sometimes I think I should be eating it alone, in private, because it’s so tongue-gasmically good, I do feel kinda dirty and wrong afterward.

Q: If you could sit down with yourself 15 years ago, what would you say?

CHILL!

Q: Where would you most like to live?

I can live anywhere with my wife and son. Travel is my goal. The Galapagos Islands, New Zealand, and the Amalfi Coast of Italy are on the list. And Scotland. Scotland any time.

Q: What is your idea of success?

My idea of success is setting the bar so low that flossing is a win!

Q: What is your idea of happiness?

I’m happy right now with this life. I could be richer but not happier.

Q: Final Thoughts?

 My final thoughts will likely be, “I DON’T WANNA D—”

In all seriousness, I want to close here by thanking Joanne Zippel and all the wonderful Blackshaw readers who love this character, his world and his missions. If you haven’t joined the fun, I invite you to pick up the Ben Blackshaw box set, which is an eBook with the first three stories published all together. It’s a great way to immerse oneself in the Blackshaw world. Paperbacks of the individual books are also available at your local bookseller or online, where you can also find individual eBooks in all formats. Then, I suggest paying a visit to Smith Island and seeing for yourself the amazing people and the beautiful place that inspires the Blackshaw Series.

 

Fast Forward Friday with Lisa D’Apolito

Lisa_DApolito_409_PlotaFor this week’s Fast Forward Friday, we interviewed director-producer and NYWIFT member Lisa D’Apolito. Her feature documentary  LOVE Gilda – the Eternal Spirit of Gilda Radner was recently accepted into the Conscious Cinema Lab in Sedona.  To learn more about LOVE Gilda, click here and if you are in New York City and want to  celebrate Gilda’s Birthday Bingo Bash on Friday June 17th click  here.

Q: What are you currently working on?  Tell us about it.

 I am working on a feature documentary, LOVE Gilda – the Eternal Spirit of Gilda RadnerIn her own words, comedienne Gilda Radner looks back and reflects on her life and career. Weaving together recently discovered audiotapes, interviews with her friends and rare home movies, LOVE Gilda offers a unique window into the funny and whimsical world of a beloved performer whose greatest role was sharing her story.

 Q: What was the inspiration and impetus for doing this project?

I was doing fundraising videos for Gilda’ s Club, an organization that offers support for people with cancer and their families.  Many people I had interviewed had a deep connection with Gilda Radner.  I realized that Gilda’s legacy lives on over 25 years after she died from ovarian cancer and I wanted to learn more about her.  I started the film when I was in Joanne’s New York Women in Film workshop and with her support.

 Q: Who are your artistic heroes – who have had an impact on you and your work?

  l have always loved the great female actors like Vivian Leigh and Katherine Hepburn.   But, now I have to say Gilda.   She was an amazing writer, a good person and always found the humor in even her darkest times.

 Q: What keeps you motivated and inspired as an artist?

 Getting out in nature and the ocean help me clear my mind and I feel inspired.

 Q: What other projects would you like to tell us about?

 I am in the midst of finishing up LOVE Gilda but I would like to do other films about other women who are inspirational.

 Q: What is one instance of knowing you are living in your vision? 

 When I wake up in the morning and I know I am going to work on my film and not going to a job that makes me unhappy.

 Q: If there were no barriers to entry, what is one thing you would be doing?

 I would move.

 Q: What has been big your biggest obstacle in achieving your vision?

 My sometimes fear.

 Q: What do you do to stay connected to your creative self?

 I love to cook.  I love museums.  I love to be with creative people and hear about their projects.

 Q: If you could let go of something that has held you back, what would it be?

 My self doubt.

 Q: What is your favorite piece of art?

  Joan of Ark painting by Jules Bastien-Lepage at the MET.

 Q: What person do you most admire, living or dead?

 Gilda Radner.

 Q: If you could be known and celebrated for one thing, what would it be?

 That I was honest and tried to help.

 Q: If you could describe yourself in one word what would it be?

 Intuitive.

 Q: What is your guilty pleasure?

 Salami.

 Q: If you could sit down with yourself 15 years ago, what would you say?

 Never be scared to go for your dreams.

 Q: Where would you most like to live?

 By the ocean.

 Q: What is your idea of success?

 To have a wonderful home, travel and have an Academy Award.

 Q: What is your idea of happiness?

 Swimming or looking out at the ocean .

 Q; Final Thoughts?

Thank you Joanne for your workshops and coaching.   I have also made some wonderful life long friends from your groups. 

Fast Forward Friday with Tammy Faye Starlite

IMG_0061For this week’s Fast Forward Friday, we interviewed multi-talented and acclaimed cabaret singer-actor -performance artist Tammy Faye Starlite.  She will be reprising her acclaimed show Nico: Underground for one night at Lincoln Center’s David Rubinstein Atrium in New York City on on July 21.  To see an excerpt of Tammy as Nico and read some of her rave reviews, click here, here and here.

Q: What are you currently working on?  Tell us about it.

On July 21, I’ll be reprising my show Nico: Underground for one night at Lincoln Center’s David Rubinstein Atrium. It’s a scripted show about Nico, née Christa Paffgen, who was a German singer who’s most famous for singing on the first Velvet Underground album, titled  – appropriately enough – The Velvet Underground and Nico. The script is based on an interview she did on a Melbourne radio station in 1986, two years before her death. I added and subtracted from the original interview, putting in lines she said in other interviews and making up things she might have said.  And there’s a band for the songs we intersperse in chronological order. She was a fascinating woman and had … some might say controversial views. In a sense, she was a nihilist and perhaps that spurred her heroin addiction, which lasted from the early ’70’s through her death in 1988, although she was supposedly on methadone at that point. What was the question again?

Q: What was the inspiration and impetus for doing this project?

I’ve  loved Nico’s voice ever since I heard that first Velvet album when I was 17. It was so deep, so low, as if it came from some otherworldly visceral Valhalla. And then I learned her story – born in Cologne in 1938; disowned by her father – who fought for the SS and was then killed by the SS because he was injured and of no use anymore – then moved with her mother to her grandparents’ place in the German countryside during the war; moved back to Berlin with her mother after the war; alleged that she was raped by a black American soldier – maybe, maybe not; became an international model; was in Fellini’s La Dolce Vita; had a son by Alain Delon – a child he never acknowledged, history repeating itself; recorded a single with the Rolling Stones’ producer; became a superstar of Andy Warhol’s Factory; and slept with Bob Dylan, Brian Jones, Lou Reed, Jim Morrison, Jackson Browne – she was the first person to record his songs on her debut solo album Chelsea Girl, Jimi Hendrix,  Iggy Pop and more. Then she decided she wanted to write her own songs, which she composed on the harmonium; put out brilliant but some would say, extremely bleak, proto-Goth albums; moved back to Europe; did some art films with her boyfriend Phillippe Garrel; became a heroin addict and, to my mind, willfully destroyed her own preternatural beauty; and continued to tour in Europe but never became a success in the conventional sense. And she was reported to be racist and anti-Semitic but I think her often scabrous nature was a defense against a profound, cosmic ennui. She was not of this earth – maybe a cousin of this planet. She’s fascinating to me.

Q: Who are your artistic heroes – who have had an impact on you and your work?

Well, Nico (I’ll shut up about her), Debbie Harry, Linda Ronstadt,  Marianne Faithfull, Loretta Lynn, Judy Garland, Goldie Hawn, Gilda Radner, Mick Jagger, Marilyn Monroe – performers who are sui generis, unique, and who essentially created themselves and were unlike anyone else. I just want to be them and I can’t, but I try to use/steal what I can and put all those qualities into my internal blender and God, I sound pretentious. 

Q: What keeps you motivated and inspired as an artist?  

I never wanted to do anything else. It’s almost not a choice – I can’t live without being onstage. Ego, emotional need for approval and the joy of subversion. 

Q: What other projects would you like to tell us about?

I created the character of Tammy Faye Starlite, a right-wing evangelical country singer in the mid-’90s, to embody what is basically everything that is antithetical to who I am (liberal New York Jew). And it’s fun to be someone so horrible and to be able to say the most hateful things with impunity – “It’s the character!” – and in that way try to espouse my own views by presenting the opposite, if that makes sense, which it probably doesn’t. But I do love country music and I’ve played Nashville and many other places in the South and it’s a joy, unironically. And she’s coming back for the election – I’ll be doing six Tammy Faye shows in September and October at Pangea, where I recently did my cabaret show about Marianne Faithfull, cleverly titled Cabaret Marianne.

Q: What is one instance of knowing you are living in your vision?

Oh lord – getting the two New York Times reviews for the Nico and Marianne shows. I felt such relief, and, of course, validation, which should come from inside but please …

And getting to work with and become friends with so many of my heroes: Penny Arcade (who’s helped me tremendously), Steve Earle – so generous of spirit, and Diamanda Galas and Debbie Harry, both of whom I met through my incredible voice teacher Barbara Maier Gustern. I also am lucky beyond words to have the amazing Bob Merlis as my publicist – he’s a dream and has done so much for me, for which I’m forever grateful. And being friends with the legendary Danny Fields is one of the greatest pleasures of my life. As is my wonderful musician husband Keith Hartel.

Q: If there were no barriers to entry, what is one thing you would be doing?

As many shows in as many incarnations as I wanted, all across the globe,and getting paid well and having a fabulous apartment to come home to. 

Q: What has been big your biggest obstacle in achieving your vision?

Probably something in myself  but I’m not aware enough to know exactly what it is. And doing such weird stuff. 

Q: What do you do to stay connected to your creative self?

Listen to new and different music, reading biographies and watching as much TV as I can. Especially politics but only superficially. I like to know the surface and imagine the inner workings because I think I’m too lazy to really delve into global or even American history.

Q: If you could let go of something that has held you back, what would it be?

This may be TMI, but the damn eating disorder that has plagued me since I was 18. The need to be what society deems acceptable. But it’s not society that’s really doing anything to me, it’s my own stubborn brain.

Q: What is your favorite piece of art?

Some Like It Hot and Exile On Main Street.

Q: What person do you most admire, living or dead?

 I don’t know – all those I mentioned above and, to be maudlin, my late mom. And the biblical Tamar (Judah’s daughter-in-law). That’s my real name, but nobody calls me that.

Q: If you could be known and celebrated for one thing, what would it be?

My performances, without question. 

Q: If you could describe yourself in one word what would it be?

Daffy.

Q: What is your guilty pleasure?

Schadenfreude.

Q: If you could sit down with yourself 15 years ago, what would you say?

Don’t be afraid.

Q: Where would you most like to live?

Central Park West. 

Q: What is your idea of success?

Central Park West.

Q: What is your idea of happiness?

Worldwide approbation. My husband’s love. And Central Park West. 

Q: Final Thoughts?  

I thank you so much!!!!

 

Fast Forward Friday with David Eric Davis

davidFor this week’s Fast Forward Friday, we interviewed composer-writer-director-artist David Eric Davis. The cast album for his rock musical Brooklyn Crush will be released on Broadway Records.  The Brooklyn Crush cast will be performing at The Cutting Room on May 16. Save $5 off tickets with the code BC2016FF at http://bit.ly/1TTUagE.

Q: What are you currently working on?  Tell us about it.

We are preparing for the release of the cast album for my rock musical Brooklyn Crush, formerly known as F#%king Up Everything, on Broadway Records, co-written with the amazing Sam Forman. We have a new opening song to go along with the new title and I’m really happy with how the album came out. The cast is reuniting to sing all the songs at The Cutting Room on May 16. Shameless plug: $5 off tickets with the code BC2016FF at http://bit.ly/1TTUagE.

Q: What was the inspiration and impetus for doing this project?

The show was well received in NYC in 2013 (a New York Times Critics’ Pick and Off-Broadway Alliance Best New Musical nominee – sorry, more shameless plugging) but we felt we needed to change the name to try to move to other markets. It took us a while to settle on a new name and to come up with a new opening song (I wrote and demoed three different candidates), and then it took a while to record it but it’s finally finished and we can’t wait to share it. 

Q: Who are your artistic heroes — who have had an impact on you and your work?

I grew up as a musician and wasn’t very involved in theater so my artistic heroes are mostly musicians: The Beatles, The Stones, The Kinks, The Who, Elvis Costello, David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley, Randy Newman, Bob Dorough …  Yikes, all men. 

Q: What keeps you motivated and inspired as an artist?

Well, I’m more often inspired than motivated. I always have a lot of ideas for things (songs, shows, artworks …) but don’t always have the discipline to work on them. Or I try to work on too many at once and end up not making enough progress on any of them. But it seems to be part of my process – I’ll be working on a bunch of things until one rises to the top and then I have to keep reminding myself of the expression, “Every yes must be defended by a thousand nos.”

Q: What other projects would you like to tell us about?

I’m very excited about an immersive, interactive retelling of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner that I’m working on with the brilliant director Adrienne Kapstein. 

Q: What is one instance of knowing you are living in your vision?

When we did the first version of F#%king Up Everything at NYMF in 2009, the first time the house lights went down, I felt that I was sharing a dream with a roomful of strangers. That was kind of magical.

Q: If there were no barriers to entry, what is one thing you would be doing?

Flying.

Q: What has been big your biggest obstacle in achieving your vision?

Focus.

Q: If you could let go of something that has held you back, what would it be?

Fear of financial ruin. 

Q: What is your favorite piece of art?

Hedwig is up there.

Q: If you could be known and celebrated for one thing, what would it be?

When I was 10 years old I got the “Kindness to Others” award. Others got things like “Best Athlete” or “Funniest.” I was humiliated at the time. But now I think that’s a pretty good thing to strive for.  That and speaking my truth.

Q: If you could describe yourself in one word what would it be?

Juggling.

Q: What is your guilty pleasure?

Junky candy.

Q: If you could sit down with yourself 15 years ago, what would you say?

What I wouldn’t say is how much work it takes to write a musical. I wouldn’t want to scare myself away from doing it.

Q: Where would you most like to live?

Right here in NYC. Most of the time. Other times, anywhere else.

Q: What is your idea of success?

Getting to do what you love. Getting to be with people you love. Helping others do the same. 

Q: What is your idea of happiness?

There was a period of time when I was meditating, doing yoga, chanting and journaling three hours a day and my mind was always clear and I never got freaked out. That was pretty good. Not quite there these days but something to strive for.

Q: Final Thoughts?

Not yet.