Wake Forest University. Pick my major fifteen minutes before meeting with my advisor by closing my eyes and randomly opening the course catalogue to Political Science. I take electives in film, art and theatre and find I genuinely care more about these classes.
After graduation, I try to make use of my degree as that is the responsible thing to do and get a job on Capitol Hill. Seven months later move back home.
Parents lovingly threaten that I need to find another job or get out of their house. No more freeloading. A friend of my old man gives me a job making a documentary on a local politician.
Each evening after work I go to Cabell County Public library and read every book I can on the film industry (they had 5) and rent out VHS copies from their Criterion Collection with my library card.
Eight months later, I proudly announce to my parents I am moving to New York City to work in the film industry. They are amazingly supportive of my risky career choice. The day I leave mom gives me words of advice that I will never forget.
While looking for an apartment in lower Manhattan I stumble upon the crew of Fox Television’s New York Undercover filming on the streets. I hover around and watch for nearly 2 hours as I had never seen a film set before. I befriend a set PA who very graciously answers my long list of questions, one of them is where the production office is located.
Early next morning I show up outside the studio and the set PA from the day before is a bit surprised to see me. He smiles and takes me under his wing. I call the parents to share the great news ‘I got a job but it’s unpaid’. A loan is taken from Sharma Federal Reserve to pay rent. I work hard, get other non-paying gigs and I make connections. Another loan is requested. Parent’s patience begins to wear thin.
Months of sleeping on the floor of a fellow PAs parent’s Manhattan summer home, Lady Luck decides to make a glorious appearance. I get a paying job on HBO's The Sopranos.
Over the next few years I move between New York and Los Angeles landing gigs on A Perfect Murder (Michael Douglas/Gwyneth Paltrow), Substance of Fire (Sarah Jessica Parker/Timothy Hutton), Phoenix (Ray Liotta) and Deep Impact (Morgan Freeman/Elijah Wood).
I then spend a year in India working on the controversial films Kama Sutra directed by Mira Nair and Fire directed by Deepa Mehta.
I move back to the U.S. where I quantum leap from lowly PA to Associate Producer at ad agency DDB Chicago. Lady Luck yet again. I work on 3 Super Bowl commercials and one of those is at Skywalker Ranch. I see Han Solo frozen in carbonite leaning on the prop department’s back wall. I nearly pass out.
After advertising, I join the film department at Columbia College Chicago where I am nominated for excellence in teaching 3 times during my tenure.
I form my production company A Light in the Universe Filmworks aka ALITUF. The projects of ALITUF have screened at film festivals internationally.
Currently I am living in New York City freelancing as a director and editor and continuing to produce content through ALITUF.
To be continued …