1. What was your major at Emerson?
I was a Theatre Studies major focused in Acting.
2. Why did you attend Emerson?
Honestly, it just sort of happened. When applying to schools, I originally wanted to major in musical theatre and, at that point, Emerson was not my first choice. But my audition for Emerson changed everything. I met with Senior Artist-in-Residence Stephen Terrell and, after two songs, he stopped my audition and suggested I pursue acting instead of musical theatre. I then met with Senior Artist-in-Residence Ken Cheeseman, who later became my mentor. There wasn't any question. As soon as he said he wanted me in the program, I knew Emerson was what I wanted and I didn't need to look anywhere else. The honesty and interest from these two professors made it a no-brainer that Emerson was the right fit.
3. What impact has your Emerson experience had on your career?
Relationships, hands down. And I am not just talking about networking relationships—I mean friendships, romantic relationships, and, of course, professional ones. Emerson has a way of creating this community, and it is stunning how Emerson friendships continue after graduation. Not all colleges can say that. Emerson has its own character, where students are placed in situations that are relative to the “real world” and it creates a unique bond with those around you.
4. Tell us about your production company, A2A Productions.
A2A Productions actually started at Emerson in 2008. George Tunis ‘10, Stephen Chang ‘10, Tej Brar ’10, Dan DeNicola ’10, and I founded A2A Productions when we decided we wanted to be the first students to produce a feature film while at Emerson. After graduation, Tunis and I relocated to Los Angeles and teamed up with Ian Wallace ’10. We are now running a production company that focuses on the successful creation and production of film and television programs.
5. Can you tell us about your latest film, Speak Now?
Speak Now is a feature film that was shot over the course of three days with all dialogue being improvised by the actors. The film is a romantic dramedy about a group of high school friends reuniting for a wedding. Tommy and Anna are the high school sweethearts getting married and all of their old high school friends will be in attendance. The day of the wedding is filled with chaos as this high school wedding reunion unfolds.
6. How has Speak Now been recognized?
Speak Now won the Write/Rec Audience Award at the 2013 Austin Film Festival and Best U.S. Feature Drama at the 2014 Austin Indie Flicks Showcase. Being recognized with awards and getting praise is the total gravy on the mashed potatoes.
7. What was it like to film the entire film in only three days?
It was the most intense three days of my life, especially since I was producing and acting simultaneously. We all had about four months to study the characters and work on becoming our character. We worked on our backstories, emotions, and connections with other cast members using the Warner Loughlin technique, so we were ready when those three days came. It really tested our talents and gave us this surreal experience. I was fortunate to be working with such a great cast, too, because everyone came prepared and was there for support—it made this experience an unforgettable one.
8. What can viewers expect from this film?
To laugh, to cry, and to connect with the characters. Viewers will be experiencing a real 80 minutes of actors acting from their heart and soul. With the improvisation factor and months of character preparation, viewers are going to see a real high school reunion and some serious chaos.
9. Where can folks buy Speak Now?
Speak Now is available for purchase on iTunes, GooglePlay, and VHX. I would also love to offer a discount to everyone Emerson: just use coupon code “EMERSON” when purchasing from VHX.
10. What advice would you give to current students?
Prior to moving to Los Angeles, I ran into Hugh Jackman in New York City and asked for his advice on living in Los Angeles. He said, “Do everything. Just do everything.” So, my advice for current Emerson students would be just that, to do everything and to keep as many pots boiling as possible, because you never know what can happen.