I was fifteen, sitting in a seminar for yearbook editors in Northern Virginia. A slide show of the quintessential high school experience was projected on a large screen. Each photo dissolved to the next over a haunting piece of music pulled from the “Chariots of Fire” soundtrack. I was transfixed, even teary. And that was it. The power of visual storytelling captured me - the images, the music, all of it. I began to produce slideshows for every occasion and loitered around the American Film Institute in D.C. until they gave me my first summer job.
After studying Communications at the University of California, San Diego, and travelling the world a bit, I went to work in Madison, Wisconsin - admittedly not a direct route to the entertainment industry. I interviewed students on college campuses all over the country, producing short documentaries for Intervarsity / 2100 Productions. Also, I discovered that I loved hearing people’s stories. Three years later, I started at Milwaukee Public Television as a Reporter/ Producer for the program, “Techno@Bytes” and later the long-running series, “Outdoor Wisconsin.” I was outside of my realm of expertise, but what better way to learn, than to follow around “outdoorsy” Wisconsinites with a camera and lots of questions?
In 2000, I began working in Chicago for Towers Productions, an award-winning provider of television documentaries. Among my productions were several episodes of the acclaimed series, “American Justice.” These were fascinating, if sometimes disturbing, examinations of the criminal justice system. They often highlighted both the dark and light sides of human nature and this job felt like grad school for storytelling.
Eventually, while taking a break from documentaries to “produce” and chase three energetic boys, I revisited an old goal - to develop as a screenwriter. I explored the craft and took notes on my favorite films. Like many parents of young kids, I watched Pixar movies repeatedly…and was grateful they were such well told stories. So, when I learned that writers for Pixar (and many other notables) were deeply influenced by the Robert McKee Story Seminar, I made plans to attend. It was indeed, profoundly helpful. But of course, the most important step in a writing journey is to write and write and then write some more…
And so now, in addition to documentary work, I continue to develop original and adapted screenplays with the goal of adding to the great reservoir of stories that entertain, inspire and challenge by exploring the universal questions that lead us to wisdom and empathy. (I do realize it’s a pretty lofty goal.)