Where are you originally from?
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Iím originally from there, but I live in Rochester, New York now.
Where did you go to college?
Elim Bible Institute, which is specifically for Bible training or those going into the ministry or something.
What did you get your degree in?
Itís Bible. Everybodyís degree is in Bible. Itís in Bible and education.
How did you get started in writing?
Iíve been writing since I was young. I meanÖ 9, 10, I started doing journals and songwriting. As a result of poetry and all this, I began the songwriting and started playing instruments to write songs to the lyrics I had. I did that for a long while, and then I did short stories. Then I got into screenplays probably ten years ago is when I first started doing screenplays and short films.
How did you get involved with Chris?
That was a little strange. I was just on the website, on a website looking up screenplays to see if there was anything interesting on there, and I found one of his screenplays called Keeping Up With the Joneses. I read it all in one sitting. I loved it, and thought ďMan, Iíve got to write this guy and tell him how much I liked it.Ē So, I just wrote him an e-mail and said, ďI found your screenplay online. Fantastic. Whatever.Ē It turns out that I saw his e-mail address was regent.edu, where he had gone to grad school. I happened to be visiting Regent the next week, and I already had the plans all set to do that. When he wrote back the next day, I told him: Iím coming down there next week actually, and it would be cool to meet you. So I met him the next week, and we talked, and he showed me the short film he had just made, Keeping Up With the Joneses. From there we kind of became fast friends through e-mail and talking on the phone and all. So, it was cool.
Have you done any other projects with Chris?
No, not with ChrisÖ I think this is the first time that weíve collaborated.
Do you draw from your own personal experiences when writing?
Yeah, almost everything is. Iím not too creative otherwise. Itís just major embellishments of things that actually happen usually. This whole thing isÖ I realized the Brian Barr character, the other day, at least as I have helped to bring him alive in the screenplay and the ideas, is, and I donít want this to sound the wrong way, but itís mocking out a bit of the Christianity that I saw growing up because it can go to an extreme where people are saying wacky things, doing wacky things. Thereís no logic in it, and they can lose track of reality and whatís really important. So, that was totally drawn from personal experience in that regard.
Are there any other projects that youíre working on?
I have so many projects in various states, all unfinished. I have screenplays that Iím working on, and Iím working on a novel right now. Thatís kind of where my head is focused at the moment.
Are there any other contributions youíre making to this film besides writing?
I played a small part as the t-shirt clerk the other day, which was fun. It was just fun interacting with the guy playing Brian, Dustin. That guyís fantastic. I was so worried coming down as to, first of all, what Chrisí vision is when heís directing it as opposed to what my vision would have been for directing it, and then the actors and actresses that are involved. I thought, ďMan, I hope heís got good people.Ē So the first day I showed up on set and saw what they were doing, I was absolutely amazed. We watched some footage recently, two nights ago, and I was laughing so hard. I couldnít breathe, and I was leaving the room. I donít know how theyíre going to pick the scenes for the trailer. I saw merchandise yesterday in a little small town store for Napoleon Dynamite. They had a rack of this stuff. I said, ďChris, look! Thereís a whole rack of Napoleon Dynamite stuff. That could be Brian Barr in a year.Ē
How do you feel about the students helping out?
They were all so nice, and there were a lot of really good, smart people working on it. There are very talented people that are doing some of the things. The design crew, some of the things they came up with were just fantastic. The location crew came up with some great spots. Everybodyís just absolutely pleasant and easy to deal with. Not that I had to do much dealing with them, but just in the observation. Even the actors talked about what a great set it is and all that. I think thatís in a large part due to the students.
Any other thoughts or comments?
No, it was just a real pleasure coming down and seeing the whole process. First of all, down here, I feel like a control freak with nothing to control. I have this vested interest in this project, and I have nobody to tell what I do. In my normal life, thatís what I do. I have a store, a family, and a kid, and Iím used to telling everyone what to do. Here, I have no ammunition for anything. I just have to watch everything. It was just such a pleasure coming down and meeting the actors. We went out with them last night, and theyíre fantastic. Chris is doing an incredible job directing the thing. The lighting guys are great. The DP is great. Everybodyís been so good and nice, and itís just been a real privilege to be a part of it.
31 July 2005