Director of narrative, commercial, and virtual reality

Film Portfolio

Project Greenlight finalist | Short about sex, death, existence, time

Lily in the Grinder

Shabbat Dinner

Comedy short about coming out | Featured in 55+ festivals

Search is Back

Featured on TechCrunch | 7k users per day

Global event handing out nametags on first Sat in June

Nametag Day

Uber Forecast

Tracking Uber's surge pricing to guess what the weather might be

Archive for July, 2012

Back in NYC

This summer has been amazing. I spent the first two months of it on the road, first at a 9-day meditation retreat with Shinzen Young. I won’t try to summarize an experience that rocked my world like that one did.. Then I headed to Los Angeles to do a few days of work with the New Media Advocacy Project (which is complete and I will hopefully be able to showcase on this blog sometime soon.) Then it was off to Frameline in SF for a week (where my short was playing,) and back to Los Angeles to teach at the Harvard-Westlake summer film program. I was one of a staff of excellent teachers under Cheri Gaulke, and we taught high school students animating, writing, production, and editing. Working with kids was amazing.

After Harvard-Westlake I flew to Nashville to welcome my old friend Suud into the United States, and just so happened…well, I should tell the story.

I was expecting a completely silent meditation retreat. It was what I wanted; I wanted the experience of being so deprived of social interaction, the release of tension that comes with laughter, that my body was screaming for it. So I was very surprised when at check-in they asked “would you like internet in your room?” I thought it was insane that someone would come to retreat from the world and get internet!

But about five days in, I decided it was time to buy my flight from Los Angeles back to NYC. I spent three hours with my phone and computer on and my phone on silent. I just happened to glance at the phone as it was ringing, and wasn’t going to pick up until I saw it was a Kenya number. It was Suud, in Nairobi from his home of Dadaab, telling me he had been approved to emigrate to the United States, in Nashville. I began to give the usual talk I give about how the US is very big and it would be hard to come visit, until I realized that I was in the process of booking flights at that very moment. “I’ll see you in Nashville,” I said.

So we explored Nashville together—Suud, his friend Abdi, and myself. The city was new to all of us, but especially to the two of them. I took them to their first concert (coincidentally, the band Everest, which I shot in April.) First we arrived at the concert and they hadn’t brought their IDs (why would they think to bring identification to a concert?) When we came back, they declined earplugs and then told me that the rock concert sounded like noise until his ears adjusted. They said they absolutely loved it.

After Nashville I headed to Philadelphia QFest, where my short film was on display. Four friends came down from New York City and we had a stellar weekend; it was great to reconnect with old friends in Philly as well.

And now—New York City. I feel like a tourist again. I’m living out of my suitcase on the floor of my friend’s apartment, and am so happy to be a vagabond. Shocked anew at the cacophony of the streets. Tonight there was a tornado. When I was in my comfortable car in Los Angeles and heard about the storms in NYC, I had a feeling of hearing about a crazy ex. “I can’t believe I lived there.” But here I am back again.

Next weekend we shoot Blue Kid‘s next music video at The Muse, an aerials studio. Then I’m headed to the Rhode Island International Film Festival, where my film will be playing again. Then to San Francisco for a few weeks and back again. Aaahh!! I can’t say it’s good to be busy (though I tried damn hard enough to get myself busy) and I’m not in love with the twitter feed of emails raining down in my inbox. But it’s lovely to be making creative work with people I care about, and it’s great to be back with good friends.

In it

Late night is when I feel inspired. 11pm, 1am — late enough that even though a part of me says “down some coffee and let’s do it” the rest of me says “you’re crazy.” Wild flashes of glory, a multiferous human heart reaching for beyond pours itself into a mould of characters and snippets of dialogue. Scenes emerge in warp speed, taunting me with their solidity. Tonight I say “fuck it” and sit down at my laptop and it all vanishes.

Nothing pours out. My mind is a flickering lightbulb in a cavernous empty warehouse: small and out of control. Popping tabs and typing “facebook.com” only to close out and start again. All I can remember is the feeling of having seen something beautiful.

To write is weeks: discipline, time spent banging my head at a wall until thoughts swirl out fully formed. They will only come out just so and when they are ready..which is not to say they don’t require effort. And what comes onto the page is a pretty rough approximation of ∞ and it’s shit, or it’s a start.

Fuck it, I say. I’m going to become an accountant or something. I write another sentence and spit on that one too. The difference between who I am and who I want to be oscillates from a yawning gulf to a hydrogen atom. The flashes appear in my periphery when I turn to the side…I need to meditate more (the only real Rx.)

I want to hit fast forward all of a sudden..and pause and rewind simultaneously (lol) (sic). I feel at rest in four-dimensional spacetime, my screaming impatience protracted and splayed across t. To be at once screaming – in joy as much as tumult – and also serene. A newborn baby punched in the jaw by the everythingness of everything, scattering into atoms and dancing…

Shabbat Dinner trailer

Just got posted on the intertubes:

Shabbat Dinner at Frameline36!

Well, we’re accepted to twelve festivals so far (and after this week, it’s looking like a bunch more may be on the horizon) but I don’t think any of the others have or will be able to compare with the experience that was Frameline.

Q&A at Frameline

Frameline is a kind and generous festival: thoroughly communicative and well-run, with excellent treatment of the filmmakers. For being the premiere queer festival in the world, it feels like a small town and like coming home. They programmed our film two times.

Inside the Castro

 

Giant chandelier

The Castro theater is the most lovely theater I have ever been to (no hyperbole, I’m serious.) The first screening sold out the 1400 seats and the second brought about 900 people. The theater’s spaces is thrown open by its vaulted art deco ceiling and enormous chandelier. Its stage is perfect and the lighting impeccable. The sound system is incredible, and I was finally able to hear Dan Shaked’s heartbeat in the most tense moment of the film. My next film isn’t going to be gay-themed, but I would consider it for the chance to show here again.

The Castro audience (thanks centerforasianamericanmedia)

And then there is the audience. Oh my lord, the audience. Ira Sachs, in the introduction to his new film Keep The Lights On, said that ever since his first Frameline film in the ’90s, it has been a support to him knowing that this audience exists. They are the heirs of the gay rights movement and embraced every work with passion and fervor. I work hard not to tie my sense of self-worth to audience reaction, but Jesus–what an experience when 1400 people can’t stop laughing at a joke I wrote. The people I met were excited about films and eager to talk about them and see more. Now that’s what a film festival is about!

And the other filmmakers, of which there were many.

And the city. Don’t get me started on its rolling hills and dancing mist, its parks and exhibits and hidden cobblestone corners.

Fire, tightrope, ferry building

Sunrise, 5am Saturday morning

So thank you Frameline for an amazing experience. I now know (or at least am pretty sure—for now) that when my career allows it, I want to be in SF. And I’m hoping to stay in touch with all the great new friends I’ve made.