- An actor for writers, a writer for actors, and a director for both

FOR me, directing goes hand in hand with writing and acting. They are the three supreme elements that go into creating and presenting works intended for performance. Beginning in high school I wrote AND directed student films which were very popular and which eventually led to my acceptance at the UCLA Motion Picture/Television Department (only 13 admitted nation wide in 1973). I directed a number of film and TV projects there.


Playing director in 1971 having made numerous 8mm and Super 8mm movies throughout high school, including receiving Honorable Mention in the Kodak Teenage Movie Awards for my documentary "THE CANYON."



Some stills from my high school comedies:





Here's a link to



A bored rich couple...

...decide to open an outdoor smorgasbord for the city's homeless in...


Here's a link:


And then the post-high school graduation comedy epic of 1971:


Kevin Hurd as The lovelorn gardener...


...fired for drooling over Sally Allen, the dizzy daughter and the apple of his eye.


Darrell Pugh is the frustrated cat burglar...


...who decides to disguise himself as a maid to enter the mansion to steal the jewels! Little does he know, the gardener has the same idea -- and they are BOTH hired.


During a break, and forgetting he doesn't have his wig on, the cat burglar shocks a traveling Fullerbrush salesman (myself, doing an R. Crumb imitation.)


"I wondered what freaked HIM out."


The "maids" serve punch at the house party... well as freshly baked pies...

Chaos ensues...



Here is a link to



Then it was many months living and traveling throughout Mexico, filming everywhere, and eventually creating a 40 minute documentary which in part was responsible for my acceptance to the UCLA Motion Picture/Television Department.






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Perhaps my documentary on Mexico helped me to get accepted to the UCLA Motion Picture/Television Department in the Fall of 1973.


At UCLA in 1974 I directed "Occupant Of The Room" and played the innkeeper who makes a horrifying discovery.

Here is a link to "Occupant Of The Room":

Also in 1974 I wrote and directed "Somewhere In Ecuador" which was recorded on black and white videotape

The late Jeffrey Bermond, a talented actor and writer from England, played the Inspector, who has combed the globe in search of the elusive master criminal...


...played by the handsome, debonair Dan Reed, who also starred in "Occupant Of The Room." (Whatever happened to you, Dan? You had the makings of a great Hollywood leading man!)

The Inspector at last locates the Criminal at an out of the way cantina in Ecuador, and they engage in a cat-and-mouse repartee that leads to death!

Here is a link to "Somewhere In Ecuador":


But a funny thing happened upon graduating from film school: I became a professional stage actor. Hence, I began directing plays myself. One of my favorite shows was Tennessee Williams's "A PERFECT ANALYSIS GIVEN BY A PARROT" performed in San Diego, California.



A couple of Tennessee Williams ladies just waiting for a couple of gentlemen callers....

I appeared briefly at the end as a partygoer. (See below -- I'm on the left blowing the party favor. If the woman on the right looks familiar to you, maybe you recall her from the very end of "THE BLUES BROTHERS" movie. Sue Strain was an extra in that classic, and wears the exact same outfit!)



And at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego:


I directed a reading of the first draft of "THE TURN OF THE CENTURY" for The Old Globe Theatre Play Discovery Project. The young man on the right is future TV star Kelsey Grammer.


Below is yours truly performing with the wonderful Gillian Farrell in my own play "MALAGASY FIGS" which I directed shortly before moving to New York City. Gillian later married Larry Beinhart, the author of the book upon which "WAG THE DOG" was based. Gillian is an accomplished writer herself, with the "Annie McGrogan" series of detective tales.



"A DAY FOR SURPRISES" is a hilarious farce by John Guare which I directed and performed with the funny Laura Rankin. We play a couple of repressed librarians working in the basement of the Rare Book Room:


By the end of the play our librarians are in the throes of an ecstatic passion:



I am not an advocate of the actor directing himself on the stage. The above situations were unique; these were simple one-act plays that the theatrical management in all instances ASKED me to direct as well as act in. (An actor directing himself on film and video is another matter since the actor-director can step back and look at rushes and video playback and make appropriate adjustments. Charlie Chaplin and Woody Allen are prime examples.)

There are those who are opposed to the idea of a writer directing his own work. My philosophy is: who is more intimately knowledgeable about the work? Who is more aware of what the overall effect should be as well as of the intricate nuances of the piece? There are many examples of successful writer-directors and if the author can communicate well with the actors and convey his ideas and concepts with grace, style, power and effect, let the results speak for themselves!

Another issue is that of stage versus film. I have studied deeply and practiced professionally in theatrical stage production, dramatic writing as well as film history, theory and technique. I've learned first hand the process of adapting stage plays to the screen. (William Wyler was a supremely successful practitioner of stage to screen adaptations, as were John Huston and the earlier work of John Ford and with Michael Curtiz, David O. Selznick, etc. novels were wonderfully adapted to the screen as well.). I started out in film school and realized that if the script is no good, the film wouldn't be either. Theatre is the pure expression of dramatic writing and that is where I went to further and deepen my education. I am proud to know that I have LIVED (as an actor) many of the great classics of the past several centuries. I have gained a confidence earned from years of experience.

Should a writer direct his own work? Effective RESULTS should silence those nay-sayers who put up their road blocks through prejudice or jealousy or as mere echoers of abstract theories.

"The play's the thing!" I personally relish the opportunity to meet and work with the many talented and brilliant directors employed today on stage, film and television. I welcome showing any and all interested and serious-minded directors and producers my scripts! Successful artistic collaboration among talented artists and professionals united in a shared vision is my goal!

In 1983 I wrote and directed "Icy Waters" starring Glynis Bell and William Preston, recorded at the Young Filmmakers/Video Arts on the Lower East Side of New York City. Finally edited in 2009 a 10-minute version of this short was screened in December 2009 as part of the Zero Film Festival at the downtown independent theater in Los Angeles and at the Anthology Film Archives in New York City, ironically only blocks away from where it had been recorded 26 years earlier.

Here is a link to "Icy Waters":


From 2000 to 2005 I was a member of The Actors Studio West Playwright/Director Unit headed by Mark Rydell and Lyle Kessler. Although they frown upon a playwright directing his own work for the purposes of their particular workshop, whose aim is to pair directors with writers, I have been permitted to direct staged readings of selections from several of my plays there when directors were unavailable.. Below are rehearsal photos for a reading of "THE TURN OF THE CENTURY":


Helen Wilson and Danna Hansen emote dramatically in my Victorian murder-mystery-comedy.


A frightening moment -- Agnes the maid (Rosanna Potter) terrifies Pierre (Giampierro Judica) and Roxanne (Peggy McCay). Emmy winner Peggy McCay stars on "Days of Our Lives" and I am so proud of her enthusiasm for my work!


Arnold Weiss as Ashton; Danna Hansen as his 100-year-old Shakespearean star mother Lady Eulalia Winceworth, a role Bette Davis wanted to play in her 80th year.

Jamieson Stern and Frances Bay prepare for a reading of "September" at The Actors Studio West.

Veteran actress Frances Bay prepares for a reading of my one-act "SEPTEMBER."


In October 2003 I was invited to become an observer in the new Director Unit headed by Mark Rydell and Mark Travis at the Actors Studio West.


Mark Rydell, Artistic Director and Co-Executive Director of The Actors Studio West. Among his acclaimed films as director are "The Fox," "The Reivers," "The Cowboys," "The Rose," "On Golden Pond," "James Dean," etc. As an actor he's played everything from the vicious gangster in "The Long Goodbye" to Woody Allen's sidekick agent in "Hollywood Ending."



In February 2007 I returned to directing behind the camera once again as production commenced on "THE CALISTRA ZIPPER STORY." It was high time I learned 21st century digital video production and editing and I used this project to familiarize myself with these new and fantastic techniques. I can't imagine where I would be today had I had access to all these incredible technologies available now when I began filmmaking in the 1960s. The means were modest: a $1,000 Sony Hi 8 Digital Video camcorder edited with Adobe Premiere Pro 2 software.

"The Calistra Zipper Story" was a very unusual production in that the performances were virtually completely improvised by the actors and myself. There was no shooting script as I wanted a spontaneous spirit to resemble the Howard Stern Show experience. Hence the incredibly long amount of time to complete the editing. (With sometimes months between editing sessions due to jobs, life, distractions, etc. I had no deadline.) I did want a coherent story, and so a few scenes were scripted. The actual ending to the movie did not occur to me until more than half way through filming. Videographer Brandon Kaplan assisted me enormously in learning various digital video editing techniques. It was a fascinating experience. Final edit occurred July 8, 2010.

Here's a link to my Director's Remarks:

Meanwhile in 2009 I edited my 1983 video "Icy Waters" and that was shown at the 2nd Zero Film Festival in December.

The following year I made the documentary "Remembering Fayard," featuring my dear friend actress/singer/dancer Katherine Hopkins-Nicholas who reminisced about her life with her late husband Fayard Nicholas, the famous dancer of the Nicholas Brothers dance team who were so talented they became international stars as children. In the early 1930s at the Cotton Club, they were a sensation. They starred on Broadway and in the 1940s their wondrous dance routines were showcased in fabulous Hollywood musicals. The Nicholas Brothers continued to perform on stage and television for decades. Fayard was still dancing in his 90th year along with his young wife Katherine in 2005.

Here's a link to "Remembering Fayard" :

Dear wonderful Katherine passed away August 15, 2012 at the youthful age of 61.

Also in 2010 I created "Caprice or He Made Herself A Star" another documentary, this one about Alexis Del Lago, underground Manhattan cabaret star and a fabulous clothing designer, a glamorous personality of New York City who blazed upon the scene at Andy Warhol's Factory from the 1960s through the 1980s. Reclusive and temporarily frail from a health crisis (she's much better as of March 2013) and in her seventies, Alexis consented to appear before the video camera and tell her life story. Many of her glamorous portraits from the '60s were painstakingly restored for this production. The first public screening was presented by the Third Zero Film Festival in December 2010 at the historic Silent Movie Theatre in Hollywood, CA.





Here is a link to "Caprice or He Made Herself A Star"








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