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When I was a little kid I was always clowning around and I remember hearing people say that I’d be a good actor.  I liked the idea, so I got some friends together and we formed a theatre group and did some ridiculously funny plays down in the basement at my parent’s house.  I don’t mind working hard as long as I’m doing something fun. My mother insured our success by buying ice-cream and giving it out free to all the kids in the audience.  Mom was my first producer!  I must have been around eight years old.  I guess that’s when I started in this profession.

 

Suddenly, the whole thing exploded in my face! I continued acting until the end of my first year at collage, when: BOOM! I got drafted into the army…

Before I knew what was happening they shipped me off to an exotic place called Germany. 

You see things differently when you’re in an unknown land.  Anything and everything is a photo when you’re traveling. I took a lot of them. Before long I was hooked on photography. 

 

I bought a VW Camper and spent a year drifting around to places like the Mardi Gras in New Orleans and Taos, New Mexico, San Francisco and New York City. Taking photos all the way down the long highway. I came home with lots of good times and stories.

 

One afternoon back in Denver I was hanging around when one of my Cinema professors yelled down the hall that I had a phone call in his office.  It was an editor in Denver with a company called The Fine Cut.  He offered me a job and suddenly I was an assistant editor.  I was in!

 

Before long I moved to Los Angeles.  I got started cutting TV shows, then TV movies and then features.  One of those jobs was with a Spanish Director named Bigas Luna.  We became close friends and a few years later he would call me back to cut another of his films, but this time in Barcelona.

Of course I didn’t know it at the time, but this was going to be a major plot twist!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve been shot at three times so far. Once in Germany, once in Denver and the third time was at a stop light in LA.  It was 3AM.  I was coming back from West Hollywood to my home in Venice after a long night editing.  The light turned red just before the ramp to get on highway 10 from La Cienaga boulevard.  An old Chevy pulls up beside me on the dark deserted road and a big, good looking Black guy motions for me to roll down the window.  I do, thinking he was going to ask directions to somewhere.  Suddenly he pulls out a huge pistol and holds it at arms length right in front of my nose.  I stared at the muzzle.  The Black guy stared at me intensely in silence. He pulls back the hammer with his thumb.  I hear the “click” and the tension rises. I’m going to die. I stare at the tip of the barrel…waiting for the blast. I want to duck but my body doesn’t move.  I just sit there.  My mind goes blank, My adrenalin is overflowing but my mind is calm, like a dear that freezes in front of on-coming headlights.  The light turns green without my noticing until the guy pulls the gun back into his window as fast as he had pulled it out.  He sticks his head out to come as close as possible to me and opens his mouth and starts laughing hysterically!  The Chevy pulls away fast and I imagine him looking back and laughing.  I just sit there in the middle of the road.  I was stunned.

 

 

I fell in love with a Spanish girl.  Who could resist?

I found myself in Barcelona cutting a feature with Dennis Hopper when a commercial production company offered me a job to direct commercials with them.  I said ok, but I had to go back to L.A. to put my stuff in storage.  I made a short film called “Eggs On My Ceiling” to use as a showreel when I came back.  The very first commercial I shot won a silver lion in Cannes.  I remember thinking, “Shit, I like this place!” 

I’m still here.

 

 

When we started MonkeyFilms back in 1994, one of the first jobs that came in the door was about a real parakeet playing football.  The agency had gone to all the top directors and production companies in Barcelona and everyone said it was impossible to make a parakeet play football.  (Of course 3D animation was still in it’s infancy.) 

We were young and hungry and innocent enough not to know that it was impossible.  When we got the job, we had no idea how to do it!  I did a lot of research and a lot of tests until I drew some conclusions and finally I had the solution.  That spot won my second of three lions in Cannes. I hope I never lose that innocence or open-mindedness or whatever you want to call it.

parakeet spot

 

 

 

I must be the last one to direct Anthony Perkins.

A Creative Director friend of mine and I got an interview with Anthony Perkins at the Ritz Hotel while he was here in Barcelona.  I remember he was wearing a baseball cap and his clothes seemed too big for him.  He looked thin and his hair was grey.

My friend had a client with an amusement park and the idea was to sell Anthony Perkins to do a quick cameo  appearance for a show called Passaje de Terror or “Terror Ally”.  We had a good time talking to him and in the end he agreed to give us a couple of hours of his time to shoot.  He even said he’d do it for free. 

We walked out of the meeting amazed.  It was unbelievable; Anthony Perkins… and for free! 

Then we started commenting how old he seemed and we tried to calculate his age.  When did Hitchcock shoot Psycho?  How old was Anthony Perkins in the film? 

The day of the shoot, he spent en entire morning with us taking his time to get it right, even learning to pronounce “Passaje De Terror” in Spanish.  He was enjoying himself and we were too.  Our enthusiasm, energy and love for our work was mutual. 

He died of aids just two months later.

That says something beautiful to me about our profession.

 

The last shoot I was on, someone made the comment that they were surprised at how calm I was under what they thought was a high pressure situation.  I’m starting to hear that comment more and more and I like it.  The truth is that it wasn’t such a high pressure situation, but only lots of experience will let you see that.

 

 

I was so much older then, I’m younger then that now…

-Bob Dylan