DG: What is your name and company name and URL?
AW: My name is Avishai Weinberger. I do not have a company, but my twitter account is @avishaiw.
DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting? If filmmaking, which aspects?
AW: I’m largely a screenwriter, but I also direct and edit.
DG: What are you currently working on?
AW: I’m currently working on taking my feature script THIRD DATE (Shriekfest 2019 finalist), a horror story about toxic love, and getting it off the ground. I have a producer attached and I plan on directing. The goal is to shoot in June if possible. I’m also writing a couple of projects at the side that are in too early a stage of development to discuss right now, but I’m excited to see where they go.
DG: Who do you consider your mentor and why?
AW: Oh, boy, hard question. I’ve been blessed with a variety of mentors, from my time at NYU to various experiences at writers retreats and festivals. If I had to choose one, I’d probably say my screenwriting professor John Warren, who kept me (and my peers) honest with our projects, and without whom I don’t know if I would have completed WOLFSBANE (Shriekfest 2016 finalist), a script which opened many doors for me.
DG::Why do you think the horror/scifi genres have such a large following?
AW: I have all sorts of theories as to why these genres are important psychologically, but as for a large following… I think it has something to do with the fact that they’re transgressive. Sci-fi is about exploring far-out ideas, and horror is about exploring negative emotions. And in the process of exploring these things, we cross lines with regards to what’s realistic, how we treat other people, etc. To some people, those lines ought not to be crossed, and art that goes there doesn’t deserve respect. And to us genre fans, crossing those lines gives us a thrill. We like “going there”, and the question of respectability makes us feel like we own the genre. More than once, I’ve heard genre fans describe themselves as misfits and outsiders, and I think the association with sometimes-taboo stories increases that feeling of specialness. I also think that with horror (and, to an extent, sci-fi), you can expect art every time, regardless of the quality of the story.
DG: What do you love most about this business?
AW: THE PEOPLE. Always the people. I’ve bonded with so many new friends over storytelling, movies that feel personal to us, and shared experiences in the trenches.
DG: What do you dislike most about this business?
AW: The barrier for entry. I’m privileged– I don’t have to worry about rent or where my next meal comes from, and I can afford to produce films and fly to LA and attend festivals and go to writers retreats and all these various things that cost money. A lot of very talented people don’t have that privilege, and it takes them longer to get where they deserve to be in their careers.
DG: What career accomplishment are you most proud of?
AW: I made my short film THIRD DATE (which the feature script is based on). That was a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, and seeing it come out the way I’d hoped, as well as seeing it embraced by so many people, always swells my heart.
DG: Any advice you’d like to give to newbies?
AW: First off, the obvious: Keep writing, keep making things. Don’t expect to be perfect, but the more things you make, the more you’ll know for the next one. But deeper than that, I want to address the way people take notes. I see it with newbies a lot, and it’s totally understandable: A note can feel like an attack, and you might feel the urge to defend your artistic choices. Resist the urge to do that. Remember that notes come from an honest place, and the person giving notes wants nothing more than to help you. If you don’t like the note, just thank the note-giver for their time and simply don’t take the note. That’s valid– It’s your project. But do listen to the notes. If enough people give you one specific criticism, it’s probably worth investigating ways to patch that problem up. Try an edit, see what happens. If you vibe with the change, keep it. If not, don’t. No skin off your back.
DG: Anything else you’d like to say?
AW: Horror people are some of the nicest people I’ve met, and I met a lot of them at Shriekfest. Viva Shriekfest.