“Learn improv comedy from a coach who hates his job,” Safe Space is an ongoing comedy project I directed with forty (some yet to be released), 1-3 minute shorts featuring many of New York’s most talented, up-and-coming comedy performers. Each episode dives intimately into the teacher/student relationship, and stars long time collaborator and tik tok star Willy Appelman. Right now there are 30 episodes available and more on the way.
After working together on an episode of Safe Space, 2021 Emmy Award winning writer/performer Chrissy Shackelford reached out to me to direct a show about a Ghostwriter. The show is entirely improvised by Chrissy and actor James Dwyer who plays the Ghostwriter, and each episode showcases one of Chrissy’s insane and hilarious original characters.
As a writer-director, my interest is in building a character-based story structure and finding ways to best showcase a performers authenticity. My passion is in series, I like thinking about the architecture of a show and being able to feed off of an audience’s expectations from episode to episode. So for short films, I like to keep an experimental mind and an eye out for new ways to do things. And as my filmmaking matures, I continue to find ways to experiment, collaborate with actors I admire, with a growing desire to show life as lived.
What is Paradox X? Three 10 minute episodes satirizing syndicated true crime reality shows. But what is Paradox X really? The idea of the show came to co-creator Ned Martin and I while watching episodes of Unsolved Mysteries, which originally broadcasted as urgent nighttime specials. The original goal of Unsolved Mysteries was to actually find missing girls, solve mysteries, and catch dangerous criminals. But soon after the initial specials, these urgent messages transformed into a regularly airing series complete with syndicated repeats. This perversation of the original form is Paradox X. But what is Pardox X really really, and why are there so many different versions? Well there are three primary episodes, one version made as part of a film race, one made as part of the 555 film series, and three unfinished versions that I like to chip away at every once and a while, because there’s something really funny about dark, dry, and dumb.
Gary Vosot is a satirical news reporter brilliantly portrayed by Matt Evans, a former aspiring news reporter himself. Together we created a dozen sketches and a tv pilot called Breaking The News. This was the first time I worked so closely with an established comedy performer on a recognizable story structure. Working with a performer, developing his character for a comedy narrative instantly became one of my primary career ambitions. The pilot also featured some of my favorite comic actors, and it was an honor of a lifetime to direct comedy legends Dave Pasquesi, Miriam Tolan, and kindest man comedy, Brian Stack.
In Errol Morris’ book Believing is Seeing, Morris states his definition of art… “set up a series of arbitrary rules, and follow them slavishly.” For 555, I set up some arbituary rules and began a daily film project that lasted 30 days. This experimental series resulted in the seeds for many future projects, most notably Safe Space and Band on Tour, both also clearly influenced by “the Morris definition”. And while many of my film and comic influences are clear throughout this experiment, more than in any other project, my goal was to try to explore and discover my authentic voice as a filmmaker. Note, this is not Andrew DeYoung’s 555 series which released soon after this, but coincidentally, I am a huge fan of that show too.
After completing a 360/VR filmmaking course at the University of Berkeley, I went on tour with Philadelphia rock band The Superweaks. For 20 shows in 20 cities across Europe, I filmed a 360/VR film for every show, experimenting with the form and posting everyday on the band’s social accounts for their fans back home. Using two 360 cameras, one DSLR, and two point and shoots, I was able to make 20 unique concert videos, each film with a different approach to filming and editing. In addition to the 360 films, working with longtime collaborator Mike Bell, I made short docs and sketches which were also shot, edited, and posted daily. The 5 films on this link are my favorite of the tour… brief profiles of each, hilarious member of The Superweaks.
Videos in this category are the result of 20 or so years of friends calling me, me calling friends, or me saying to myself, “let’s make a video.” Because of that, this bucket could be 100+ videos, not to mention most videos on this website, but I did my best to widdle it down to some of my favorites.