Q: What is the name of your major?
A: I’m a filmmaking major with a minor in Portuguese.
Q: When did you start making films?
A: Since middle school, I’ve always loved writing scripts and coming up with ideas for movies. In high school I bought a camera and would use my friends as actors and crew, which put me on a path of becoming enamored by filmmaking.
Q: When/why did you decide to pursue it as a career?
A: Around junior year of high school, after making a short film and watching many interesting and classic movies, I realized that I thoroughly enjoyed and wanted to study filmmaking. Many of my teachers in high school pushed me to follow through with my goals, so I decided this was the right career path for me.
Q: What do you specialize in? Talk a bit about how you decided that genre of film is your favorite.
A: I specialize in psychological horror, thriller, mystery and surreal films. Basically, anything weird. I love subverting audience expectations and trying to create original stories that viewers haven’t seen before and either make them uncomfortable or make them think, which go hand in hand. I think a successful story should be both entertaining and thought-provoking and I try to reflect that in my work. I realized these genres were my favorite after watching many films with those styles that differentiated from the usual popular Hollywood movie, so I wanted to write scripts like that.
Q: What experiences have you had filming? What have you learned through making films?
A: I’ve had many interesting experiences filming in various crew positions. On one set, I was part of the art team and stayed up until 4 a.m. one night just painting flats and building the set. It was grueling, but it made me realize how much I actually enjoy art direction and production design when it comes to a film set. I was able to assistant direct for another student’s senior thesis film “Shots Fired,” and that was a pretty amazing experience being a sophomore. It gave me an appreciation for the production management aspect of filmmaking many people take for granted or don’t realize is crucial.
I’ve learned much from filmmaking, but probably my biggest lesson was in time management. As film students, you have three days to rent out the equipment and shoot whatever you’re shooting so time is literally of the essence and coordinating with the rest of the crew is essential. I’ve also learned how much of a group effort a film is and have a deep appreciation for every member of the crew. It’s awesome that so many people from so many different backgrounds and talents get to come together and make a movie.
Q: What is your biggest motivation?
A: My family motivates me. Everything I do, I do for them. I’m one of the first people in my family with the ability to even go to college or pick a career path. I’m just thankful for being able to do what I get to do every day. I also want to be able to make inclusive movies that tell different stories from many perspectives which is something I feel is missing right now in the film world.
Q: How has Montclair State University fostered you as an artist?
A: Montclair State University has been beyond helpful in helping me realize my potential as a filmmaker and learning the craft of the art form. I’ve learned about many different facets of filmmaking from many different professors. Janet Cutler gave me an introduction to film history and theory which I believe is just as important as understanding production elements. Tony Pemberton showed my class many experimental and non-mainstream films which opened my eyes to different types of movies I could write. Susan Skoog enlightened me on the elements that go into a narrative feature like the hero’s journey and sequencing, helping me understand how to properly pace and develop the plot of a film. Karl Nussbaum is one of the most helpful professors I’ve ever had. I came into his class barely understanding technical elements of film production and now I feel comfortable and know how to do virtually anything on a set. All the professors here have in some way shaped my understanding of the filmmaking process.
Q: Who are your biggest supporters?
A: My family and close friends are my biggest supporters. None of them ever told me not to go into the arts. They always encouraged me to pursue my dreams, and for that I am forever grateful.
Q: Who are your biggest inspirations?
A: My biggest filmmaking inspirations are David Lynch, Wes Craven, Alfred Hitchcock and Tim Burton. I think their films are engaging and interesting and have a singular style and flair. I’ve always been inspired more so by foreign films than American ones. Some of my favorites are “Amelie,” “Chungking Express,” “Dogtooth” and “All About My Mother.” My parents and my older sister inspire me every day with all the hard work they put into everything they do. They’ve shown me how to stay focused and determined to achieve my goals.
Q: What’s your latest project?
A: My latest project, “Isolated,” is a surreal noir mystery film. It follows a psycho-obsessive private investigator who is hired by a woman to find out if her husband is being unfaithful.