An American Actor in Bucharest
That’s because I am not from around here. I am actually an American actor-writer-director-producer, multi hyphenate just like Lena Dunham, and I now live here in Bucharest, Romania.
That’s right, I live here in Bucharest. And you are reading the first of my editorial columns, which will focus on my experience as an American filmmaker working in the industry here, and also illustrate the differences in approach from Hollywood which I encounter here.
How did I end up here in Romania?
Classic love story. I met a Romanian girl in Hollywood and I fell in love with her passion, beauty and intelligence. She told me many things about Romania and it sounded wonderful.
I had noticed the attention and acclaim Romanian films, like 4 luni, 3 saptamani si 2 zile, were receiving, and she showed me some of them, like The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, and I was impressed and intrigued.
I also knew that some American films were shooting in Romania, like Cold Mountain. I got the stars in my eyes and decided to move here with her, and try to make, or rather, just make, American style movies with international appeal with the emerging Romanian talent here, for the world wide box office.
For in the words of the great Yoda, "Exista nu incearca, doar face sau nu face." This would also give me unique opportunities to work on the English-language films shooting here. Basically, I knew it would be an adventure, and there’s nothing I love more than adventure. After all, that’s what making a movie should be: an adventure every time!
Now, you oughta know some of my qualifications before I start speaking as some sort of authority on the process of making a movie. The truth is, there cannot be an authority on the process. Each film demands its own process. As legendary screenwriter William Goldman says about Hollywood: Nobody Knows Anything. But there are some ways that work, and result in hundreds of millions of dollars, and some that don’t. And so I will share my experience before I share my perspective.
So what is my experience?
Well, it’s been quite a ride! I’ve lived all kinds of movies. Road trip, romantic comedy, thriller, film noir, drama, mystery. I’ve also made a few. The best experience for film making is life experience. Some things you can’t make up. In life, things happen to which I say "You just can’t write shit like that"! Best to find some way to put them in a movie.
So, I was born and raised in New York City, a great place to grow up because it is the most truly international city on Earth. I have been acting since I was 7 years old. I started with Shakespeare and continued on TV and off-Broadway, then attended High School for Creative and Performing Arts in Philadelphia. After school, I continued acting training in various programs.
One key difference in the States is that acting is seen as a muscle which must be exercised consistently, so actors study continuously after university, always learning new techniques, as opposed to here where it’s like "Okay, I’m out of University, I’m an actor now. Check out my diploma!" A diploma is the last thing we ask for, Talent first. Fortunately, more programs for this discipline are starting to appear here in Bucharest. More on that in future columns.
I lived in Hollywood for seven years before moving here. I have a degree in Film Directing, and six years of creative and screen writing training from Los Angeles Film School, New School University in New York City, and West Hollywood Adult School. After film school, I owned and operated a production company, MadMan At Large Productions, for seven years, creating and producing short films, music videos and internet content for myself and others.
Some projects I have directed, as Jimmi James, are the film The Origin, Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The J.O.I.N.T and the sketch comedy WFCT: The Thinking Man’s Show For The Idiot. The Origin played in festivals worldwide, like Australia, Germany, New York and Los Angeles, and WFCT was the #1 seller on content downloading site onwebproductions.com and Audience Choice runner-up at Mobile Media Fest. These are some of my successes and you can learn more about them and see some at this link.
I hope that wasn’t too boring. That’s just some of my experience in the States. If you’re still reading, you will learn more along the way as you follow my column. Next time, I will inform you about the work I have done here in the industry since I arrived in Romania two and half years ago.
Please if there is anything you want to ask me, do so in the comments section and I will try to respond in future editorials. I look forward to sharing! Have a fun day, and come back next time!