I recently was offered the most incredible opportunity: hired to be one of the directors for the 2017 ABC Discovers: Los Angeles Talent Showcase and I will tell you that that experience was one of the most wonderful, difficult, fulling jobs I have ever had as a director.
Part of Disney | ABC Television Group's ongoing commitment to create opportunities for undiscovered talent, this showcase features actors performing original one-act scenes to an audience of entertainment professionals.
I had just returned from Afghanistan in 2011, and was interviewing wounded soldiers at Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) when the idea for the short film ONE HALLOWEEN (premiered on HBO digital October 1st) came to me.
I was interviewing all of these soldiers, and remembered one of them telling me a story. He said, one Halloween he decided to dress up in a costume and lay on the front lawn to scare the neighborhood kids who were trick or treating. The kids in the neighborhood loved it and it became an annual thing. It was a way that he used humor to cope with his new body. And the kids would ask him questions about his legs, and it opened up a discussion. I knew this was a story I wanted to tell.
This country was built on the backs of people who fought and died for the simple right to vote. A simple act of giving EVERYONE, both rich and poor, an equal voice.
Whether "you are with her", or "you want to make America great again", you are in a country where your vote matters.
I have seen countries where it doesn't.
On the day he was buried, Pfc. Dawid Pietrek became an American.
Pietrek had come to west suburban of Chicago Il, from Poland, joined the Marine Corps and died June 14, 2008 when his Humvee hit a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. In death, he became the 116th member of the armed forces to be posthumously named a U.S. citizen since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began in 2001.
Begging for money for your film is both a humiliating and humbling experience. But necessary.
Growing up in my Chicago neighborhood, you didn't ask for handouts. You earned your money. You got a job at 15. And you worked for it.
I think that is why I am having a difficult time with my Indiegogo campaign.
People used to ask me when I go back, "So how does it feel to be home?" I would always answer the same way: "Great. It feels great to be back." But if you want to hear the long answer:
You feel grateful. Grateful of everything. Grateful of birthdays and Veterans Day; of weekends and picnics; of cool crisp air on warm summer days; of cold beer in frosty mugs; of dogs playing with their cute floppy ears; of soft fabrics like silk.
Yesterday I interviewed 7 “kids”, all under 22, who served their country with pride, and who came back without limbs.
As I heard each of their stories, I couldn’t help but think how lucky I was.
Not lucky because I came back from deployment in one piece; lucky that I was able to hear their stories. Lucky that I was able to meet and know them, even if it was just for an hour.
In a small apartment located in a public housing complex in the Bronx, Emily Torro celebrates Memorial Day differently than most. It all changed after Isaac was killed.
The Bronx neighborhood I met her in was a little rough around the edges but tons of character. I walked passed piles of trash being devoured by fat squirrels who were not bothered by me. They actually turned to look at me, shrugged and kept eating.
I buzzed passed the thick outer door and walked passed the "cigar" butts in the hall way into the 1st floor apartment that belonged to her mother, prepared for the apartment to be just as cold and hard as the exterior.
"Three more..." That was all he said coming into the pit. And the look on his face and the sound of his voice was all I needed to know what happened.
Three more gone.
It hits you; it kicks you in the teeth… the reality of those words. Of what they will mean to a family tonight. And even though I don’t know them, I feel a loss. And as the rest of the soldiers on this camp go about their day, shielded by ignorance of what just happened, as the rest of the camp plans for the Memorial Day picnic tomorrow and talk about what their families are doing at home, I’m stuck in the reality of the war: That young men die as people plan picnics.