What is the single best thing you've learned from running a film festival?
The assumptions I had previously about the importance of film as a forum to unite, excite and inspire are much truer than I thought. Festivals, when done right, work in the vast majority of communities, but having experienced festivals all over the country, there is something unique about Bend in terms of how perfect the festival is for this particular community.
What led you to be a film festival director?
Prior to taking this position I was a business manager at Chicago's biggest construction company for seven years, I owned and operated my own film production business and finally, I was the executive director of a non-profit right before taking this position. This job as director brings together my skills in business management, non-profit management and film production and festival experience. I'm really loving it.
What superhero power do you wish you had as a parent?
Admittedly, I have not seen many of the superhero movies that have come out over the past 20 years, so I really can't cite one that exists in the superhero universes. However, if there is a superpower that slows the passing of time or allows you to be in at least three places at once, I'd take those in a heartbeat.
How are kids today different than when you were a kid?
I think kids themselves are the same as they were when I was a kid. We as parents are different. We really need to remember to give our kids all the scientific intelligence of our current age while at the same time providing the feral and unstructured experiences that were so awesome when we were kids.
What did you learn from your parents about parenting?
My parents were great about giving us a lot of freedom to make our own mistakes and learn from them. I saw them working very hard so that we had the basic necessities of life: a good education, food and a roof over our heads. Because of where I grew up (on the southside of Chicago), my parents taught me the importance of community. In a nutshell, they also taught me the most important lesson: simply not to be a jerk.
What do you hope your children learn from you?
I hope my children learn the importance of enjoying work while at the same time balancing the life-affirming things outside of work, like spending quality time with family and getting outdoors–especially appreciating all of the incredible opportunities they have growing up in a beautiful town like Bend.
Do you have a role model?
This one's hard to answer. I mean...is there some kind of really cool, easy going generalist out there who's a great artist, outdoorsman, a good cook, great dad, who meditates for hours with ease, fights for social justice and can play a mean guitar? If so, that'd be the guy I'd aspire to be.
What do you think the next generation has in store for us?
I like a lot of things I'm seeing from the younger generation. I've worked with the best college-age interns one could hope for: smart, tech savvy, hard-working, full of ideas, etc. This age group will usher in a lot of overdue changes like true gender and racial equality and the importance of mental health de-stigmatization. They are fighters.
If parents were to ask, "what can film do for my children" what would that be?
I grew up watching a lot of movies I probably wasn't supposed to see (another good thing my parents did), and it helped me relate to a wider 'adult world.' Many of these films were comedies ("Airplane" and "Blues Brothers") which helped me develop, what I feel, is a good sense of humor. For millennia, kids and teens used books to identify with characters and discover that the thoughts they had were not just unique to them. Film inspires the next generation to find community both with the people on the screen and those sitting next to them in the theater.