I’m a construction worker. I come from a family of construction workers in Rockland County, a blue collar haven just northwest of New York City. For the most part I lived the typical life one would expect in this suburban sprawl of homes mortgaged to tradesmen, policemen, firemen and other commuters to the big city 30 minutes across the Hudson. Perhaps it is because of my Irish heritage, my Mom immigrated here in the 1960’s, that I love storytelling even more than I do the Yankees and Giants. For me growing up and going to bed was like going to the movies. I’d close my eyes and people would appear…real characters, real places, real conflicts. I’d go over them night after night working them out in my mind, countless stories, written and rewritten until I had a beginning, middle and end.
The dreams were real to me — just as real as the loud, pragmatic world of construction. In fact, construction tells it’s own stories. I remember the first time I stepped onto a Navy ship. I was 8 and it was like being on a movie set. I was at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and my Dad, an independent, for hire contractor took on the job of overhauling the bomb lifts of 8 Navy ships. I started working with him and getting a paycheck at the age of 12. I worked during summer vacations and on winter breaks. By the time I was 17 I had worked in three shipyards, countless factories installing machines and on top of six different skyscrapers installing window washers and other machinery. Looking back, I learned that large construction sites are exactly like movie sets — stars, sound design, choreography, directors, producers, prima-donnas and everyone a unique character — not all good — but all real.
The point here is, I built a my own bridge from blue collar construction to the world of film. At age 18 I watched an interview with Henry Winkler. He said, if you want to be a director, filmmaker or writer you have to know how to speak the language of the actor. So I studied acting at the Drama Tree and at William Esper Studios in NYC. After college and in between construction jobs I attended The Tribeca Film School, home to Robert De Niro’s production offices. I was hooked.
In between jobs I took writing classes, read books and attended seminars. Anything that had to do with story I’d spend my free time learning. Then I attended my first pitch festival in CA. It was there I met people from Script Magazine and later Producer Mag where I helped write articles about some of Hollywood’s best writers and producers. It was one of the best learning experiences. I got to ask any question I wanted and it was there I learned storytelling is a team sport. I also learned that in Hollywood the writer and creator is usually the lowest man on the totem pole. It was also in LA that I met fellow Writer Sherry Compton and her husband and writing partner Michael Compton. With their encouragement I continued to write and together we did our first Project called Sugar-Daddy. A black comedy about the changing American dream — from working hard and pulling yourself up from your bootstraps to marrying rich. There was interest, but then came along the housing crash and the venture money that flowed easily was gone overnight.
It was about this time my biggest critic but always patient — and beautiful wife — Katie and I had our first child, Kendall. As a matter of fact the first three page story line was written during one of the many 4 in the morning feedings. With my daughter over my shoulder and typing with one hand I laid out the original draft of “Life at Sea,” later to be called INFERNO-2033. During this time Sherry and her husband sold a script and became Producers on a film called Carjacked. They then optioned a short story I wrote which they turned into a screenplay called Full Disclosure. But for me construction work had come to a screeching halt and with my daughter now in school, I spent two years writing what would be a 365 page treatment for the INFERNO-2033. A year ago at a party, my wife’s uncle, a semi –retired marketing executive, and I talked about the treatment and the idea for a webisode series exclusive to the internet was born. Next thing I know we’re working with graphic artists in Russia and animators in Poland. After I explained to Sherry that our goal was to produce the INFERNO-2033 in a series of short web episodes without big studio investors she and Michael jumped on board to write the first three episodes.
So, here we are: INFERNO-2033. We’ve developed it this far doing it without big venture capital, without big studios and without big networks. We’re simply making it happen with our own sweat and with talented independent artists from around the world. In many ways it is exactly the same way America was built. The blue collar mentality has never left me — never will — and I’m proud of it.
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