I started making films when I shared my desire to do so with a fellow playwright, Gary Garrison, who happens to be head of the Creative Writing Program at NYU. Gary invited me to take a course in the undergraduate Film program on making a music video to see how I liked it. I ended up making a video of my parents and their life running the funeral parlor in Chicago where I grew up. Actually it wasn't THE home I grew up in but rather the funeral home my parents moved to once the children had all grown and left for college. I used the Randy Newman song A Real Emotional Girl. ( I must digitize that beta master one of these days to post.) Suffice to say I loved the process of filmmaking, loved looking for the story of my upbringing, of this couple, who raised their five children amid a daily drama of death and grief. But the video wasn't about us children. It was about Reggie's and Frank's relationship, their partnership, and their love. My mother was a beautiful woman, physically beautiful, and also very kind and resourceful, and smart, although she never finished high school. She managed to protect her children from her charming but very dominating husband who dreamed only of creating a family business that would bear his name and live on forever. None of us are funeral directors. None of us even live in Chicago.
Turns out, I didn't go to NYU but to Columbia University for film school.
My first celluloid short film is also about a funeral home, a fictionalized version. That's very important. It is not my story but a more dramatic one by far. The film is called Polio Water. It stars a ten year old Mischa Barton and the Tony and Emmy award winning, Cherry Jones among others. Here is a brief clip.