When did your interest in film turn into a desire to actually seek a career in the film industry? When did you realize that you actually could have a career in the film industry?
My senior year I did an independent study w/ Professor Osteen comparing the screenplays of David Mamet & Robert Altman. Mamet wrote a foreword to the published screenplay for his film House of Games, wherein he described his experience of first being on a film set being full of camaraderie; he wrote of feeling that "we were engaged together in a legitimate enterprise as part of a legitimate industry." That got me hooked. Made me believe it was a real thing, worth pursuing.
How much of your career path was planned, and which steps were serendipitous?
A little of both. There were times that I would strike out on my own without any plan and take risks to get ahead. There were other times that I wanted financial stability and the experience of working within a company, having mentors, etc. The job search was very calculated, involved a lot of networking. My first break came very serendipitously. I was in a Starbucks on Wall Street in late 1999, reading the want ads. I had been in New York three weeks and couldn't find a way in to the film biz. A guy I hadn't seen since high school walked in asked me what I was doing. I told him I was looking for a job in film, and he said, "Come with me." Two hours later I was working for him as a production assistant on the set of a film called Frequency with Dennis Quaid. The next break came when I was working traffic duty on the set with a young man who was the son of the president of Sony Pictures Classics and he told me Sony Classics was interviewing for an internship position. He put in a good word and two weeks later I started at Sony.
Why did you major in English? Where did you think it was going to take you at the time?
I had planned since high school to go into teaching. I was always good with English, creative writing, and history, but lousy at math and science. I had a done a lot of mentoring young kids in high school and my parents thought I would make a good teacher. Runs in the family. It was a hard decision leaving the teaching job I got straight after graduation because I loved the kids but I felt like if I didn't make a move then, I would never make it. I've done some teaching since then at the SUNY-Purchase Film Program in New York, instructing seniors in an elective called "The Business of Film."
What careers did you *think* were possible when you were an undergrad?
Honestly, I can't say I gave it much thought. I was a bit a dreamer, to put it generously.
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