1. My all-time favorite movie: A Walk to Remember (dir. Adam Shankman). I watched it about 10 times, and it's still heartbreaking. I also loved 50 First Dates (writer: George Wing; director: Peter Segal). I think it's one of the best romantic comedies ever made.
2. A film that inspired me to become a filmmaker: There were so many. One of the films that made me passionate about writing comedy was The Heartbreak Kid (dir. Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly). I remember myself laughing like crazy at the cinema.
3. Best movie I've seen in 2019: Wonder (dir. Stephen Chbosky). Wow, I couldn't stop the tears for over an hour.
4. One actor and one actress I would love to work with: Ben Stiller and Julia Roberts.
5. A director I would love to work with: Quentin Tarantino.
6. My happy place is: Home. Spending time with my family is the best part of every day.
7. My favorite hobby is: Playing tennis with my son.
8. Most people don't know that I: Wake up every morning at 4:30 am.
9. The most challenging film I worked on: The Other Dreamers. It took me four years to complete the project, but it was definitely worth it.
11. Five collaborators I'd take with me to any project:
- Nami Melumad - My longtime friend and the composer of all of my films in the past seven years. She's super talented, and probably the hardest working human being on earth.
- Jarek Marszewski - A screenwriter & director who won the LAFA Best of Fest award in 2017, with his feature film Bikini Blue. With a beautiful story and tons of passion, Jarek created a terrific periodic drama that you could never tell was produced entirely independently. Jarek has the soul of an artist, and I would definitely let him direct any of my screenplays with full confidence.
- Mor Cohen - We've made several films together, including Over the Wall, where Mor was the lead producer and actress. She's an animal, in the best sense of the word.
- Lisa Roumain - In 2016, Lisa won Best Actress at LAFA for her role in Hurricane. Since then, she's been a part of the Top Shorts and LAFA judging teams, and has always been very supportive. Lisa is one of the only actors I know who could play just about any character, from the good, loving mother, to the manipulative wife. Love her dedication.
- Shaw Jones - One of the best actors I've met. He was the lead actor of The Letter, which won Best of Fest at Top Shorts 2016. Since then, he has been a part of the Top Shorts judging team, and I can't wait for our next collaboration, hopefully as an actor in one of my films. A great, great guy.
12. Five filmmakers who inspire me:
- Jeff Melman - Six-time Emmy nominated director, who has worked on over 500 projects, including the some best TV series we've seen. This amazing man is always ready to support the next generation, and has been Top Shorts' Premier Judge several times already. I'm forever grateful for his support.
- Julia Parker - A super talented actress and a wonderful human being. I always love working with her, and get inspired by her positive attitude.
- Ido Weiss - Ido is a director & actor who doesn't stop creating for a moment. He played Nathan's father in my film Over the Wall, and was very helpful and supportive throughout. It's been a year since we finished filming, and since then, I think he's created about 10 plays. More importantly, he deals with important subject matters, such as disability, diversity and peace- what a man!
- Nigel Barber - Nigel is a great actor who has played in multiple blockbusters such as Mission Impossible and Spectre. Although he's very busy with new projects, Nigel is always ready to support independent filmmaking as a juror.
- John Sweet - John was my first professor at UCLA. With his sensitivity and experience, he taught us screenwriting in the most fascinating way. He helped me bring Mondays with Amy to life- my first completed feature screenplay. Always respectful, always supportive, always so kind, John was a gift to this world, and to our small class. John passed away while visiting his family in Panama City, FL for the holidays, right after our first semester together. He will be missed, and will be an inspiration to me forever.
13. The one person who has truly believed in me throughout my career: My wife, Tiki. She's my best friend and the most incredible person I've ever known.
14. On set, the most important thing is: Good vibes, zero egos, open mind.
15. What keeps me motivated? The need to tell important stories that would make people think, and see another point of view.
16. A rare experience I had on set/screening: In 2013 I made Until the End, Amir - a documentary about the life and death of Amir Menashe, who was killed in a terrorist attack in Bulgaria while arriving on vacation with his wife, Natalie. The film was selected as the opening film of In The Palace Film Festival, and we attended the event in Varna, Bulgaria. I'll never forget the moment the film ended. We stood up, and the lights turned back on. Everyone in the audience was absolutely shocked. There was the weirdest silence as we left the cinema. No one could say a word, everyone just cried for a very long time.
17. The moment I realized that filmmaking is my destiny: In 2009, on my way home from another shooting day of my documentary On Tiptoes, I remember telling my mother: Now I know for sure - I want to make films for the rest of my life. I suddenly had no doubts. I think this was the first time I actually felt the impact and power we have as filmmakers.
18. My next project: I'm currently rewriting Cursed - a hilarious crime-comedy that is very different than anything else I've written before. Also, I'm producing several projects which are currently in post production, including the German periodic drama Klaviermann (dir. Brian Andrew Hose & Sabrina Rücker), and the American thriller Lockdown (dir. Michelle Narkiss). Very proud of the talented teams behind these two.
19. If I wasn't a filmmaker, I'd probably be: A wannabe singer lol.
20. My best tip for young filmmakers: Making a film is a team effort. Leave your ego at home and respect your cast and crew. Also, you should plan everything, to the smallest details, but at the same time keep an open mind and listen to your colleagues' ideas.
Follow Roy Zafrani:
Roy Zafrani (MBA, B.Ed) is a screenwriter, director and editor, and an alumnus of University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
For over 20 years, Roy has written, directed and edited multiple documentaries, sports events, TV series, commercials and narrative films, including: "The Other Dreamers" (winner of 13 awards, over 100 selections in international film festivals), "Over the Wall" (Best Screenplay at the 2017 LA Indie Film Fest, Best World Cinema Short at the 19th annual Phoenix Film Festival), "On the Edge" (multi-award-winning documentary), "Until the End Amir" (Opening Film at the Oscar Qualifying Festival In the Palace), "Fed Cup", "Davis Cup", "Assi Dayan: Embittered" (Vienna Jewish Film Festival), "On Tiptoes", "European Beach Tennis Championships", the American-Canadian series "The Consulting Offer" (Editor, Season 2) and more.
Some of his producing credits include the American drama "Passage" (Excellence in Producing award at Idyllwild Film Festival), the British spy-thriller "The Doorman", "Opening Serve", and "Davis Cup: Road to the Finals", as well as tens of sports events for TV.
He is currently in production with several projects, including "Jamie's Book" (winner of multiple screenplay awards, including at the 2018 Irvine International Film Festival), the crime comedy "Cursed" and the dramatic fantasy "Mondays with Amy", which recently won Best Screenplay of the Year at the 21st California Independent Film Festival and at the 2018 New York Screenplay Contest.