Al Julian entered the world of film and television writing, acting and production a short nine years ago after long careers in clinical psychology and law. Since then, he has authored a dozen feature length screenplays and a variety of teleplays, shorts and commercials. Productions made from his scripts have done extremely well on the festival circuit, and his feature thriller FEVER DREAMS was picked up by MBUR Films for distribution and is now streaming on Amazon Prime, Plex and TUBI platforms. Two of his multi-award winning short films, GIFT and THE REUNION were recently picked up for distribution by Filmocracy.
Al has several more projects, including THE LAST TO KNOW, a psychological horror feature, THE SESSION, a thriller television Pilot and the faux nostalgia short CALL ME NEVADA in preproduction.
Al currently operates the business FEEDBACK FILMWORKS, L.L.C., which will continue producing short films and features throughout the southeast region, from Baltimore, Maryland to Austin, Texas.
Exclusive Interview with Alexander Julian III, Ph.D., J.D., owner and operator of Feedback Filmworks, L.L.C., screenwriter, producer and director
NY Elite: What does it mean for your work to be selected as a finalist at the International Screenwriting Competition?
It is a personal pleasure and honor to be recognized by outstanding competitions, which this one is. At a practical level, doing well in this competition, and others of high caliber can significantly increase professional or industry interest in your scripts.
NY Elite: Can you tell us about the work that you participated with at ISC? What is the story about?
I submitted three feature scripts, two of which were semi-finalists and one a finalist. The finalist, titled “Climbers” is a story about a dystopian future where man battles mutated versions of himself to survive. The first semi-finalist was titled “Ghost Walker”, a story about a drifter whose old ghosts still travel with him, for better or worse. The other semi-finalist was “Man’s World”, another dystopian tale, where in a world that an unknown catastrophic illness has wiped out 90 percent of the male population, a teenaged boy teams up with a transgendered heroine to save his sister from sexual slavery.
Needless to say, I like edgy themes.
NY Elite: What scripts have you written so far?
Fever Dreams (Horror/thriller anthology, now playing of Amazon Prime, Tubi and PLEX platforms); The Last to Know (Psychological horror script in movie preproduction); The Sessions (6 episode thriller series in preproduction); The Puppeteer (Thriller); Ghost Walker (Thriller with supernatural overtones); Man’s World (Sci-fi/fantasy); The Growler (Thriller/horror/coming of age); Us, too (Rom-com); Exterminator (horror); Climbers (Sci-fi); The Desperate Woman’s Guide (8 episode comedy series); Shadow Men (film noir); Retrograde (Sci-fi)
NY Elite: Can you tell us about yourself and your artistic talents?
I’ve had previous careers as a clinical psychologist, then attorney, then forensic expert. I began writing screenplays 10 years ago, when I retired from self-employment as a forensic expert. I also began taking acting classes about the same time and since then, I have had speaking roles in several feature films and in a number of shorts. I’m also the spokesperson for a large electrical company in my home state of North Carolina, where I do regional TV and radio ads for them.
I’m also an inventor to some extent. I was the first author of the Family Apperception Test, which has sold internationally, in three languages, since 1988. I also write songs and have had a number of my poems published in various journals.
NY Elite: Top 3 favorite projects that you have been involved in?
I have enjoyed most of my projects, with two exceptions (both due to significant audio problems on set that delayed or diminished our efforts). Perhaps my favorite film projects have been recent based on recent scripts I wrote, such as “Birthday Boy”, “Gift” and “The Reunion”, probably because I’ve become more skilled in the producer role (based on a ton of mistakes I’ve made over the years!)
In addition, the feature film “Fever Dreams” (now streaming on Amazon Prime, Tubi and PLEX platforms) was terrific fun, and I’m thrilled to see it get noticed, especially for our fine ensemble cast.
Lastly, I continue to write screenplays and enjoy that process more and more as the years pass. I have two new feature scripts I’m currently working on.
NY Elite: What type of scripts do you want to write in your career?
I want to entertain folks with my stories, which usually have a piece of me or my experiences in them. I have known a lot of people in my long and checkered life, and known many of them well. I’ve also spent a lot of time on the proverbial “street”, either working with tough customers our traveling for extensive times. In fact, I’ve spent around 4 years on the road all told. I find these experiences now provide the grist for much of my work. I have two feature scripts I’m currently working on which fit this pattern, and I’m sure I’ll be driving in this same lane if the old car holds up.
NY Elite: As a writer, what is the most important aspect of building a character?
Knowing a lot about what makes up character, or should I say, a vast multitude of characters and character variations. Again, this ties back into experience of the world and deep interest in the workings of folks around you. A poor listener is usually also a poor judge of character or weak in creating them. So, learning to listen I think is essential to the character building process when writing.
NY Elite: What projects are your currently working on?
I have a feature film, “The Last to Know” based one of my scripts in preproduction with coproducer Triad Studios. We are currently casting and anticipate shooting in late May, 2022, Covid permitting. I’m also in very early preproduction on two other projects; a television pilot called “The Sessions”, an enclosed six episode series I wrote based on my experience running murderer’s groups years ago, and a short filmed titled “Call Me Nevada” based on my short script that won the Creative World Award for Best Short Screenplay in 2021. Both are scheduled for shooting next Fall.
NY Elite: Do you express yourself creatively in any other ways?
During my years as a clinical psychologist, I was the first author of the “Family Apperception Test” in 1986; a psychological test that sells internationally to this day.
I have also published poetry in several magazines and at one point played guitar and sang (before the vocal cords got too old, lol). I have written tons of unsung songs, and still spin one out occasionally.
NY Elite: What advice would you give to someone who wants to have a career in filmmaking/writing?
First, I’d say as a writer, have a number of people read your script before filming to make sure the story works. And garner readers from different backgrounds and perspectives if you want you tale to have broad appeal. If you get similar sounding feedback about some aspect of your story more than once, strongly consider tweaking your script accordingly.
Second, for filmmakers, I’d advise starting with short films, which, although they typically won’t make you money, they will, if well done, get you notice and open some doors. You’ll also gain invaluable experience about all the pitfalls of filmmaking, but if you can be patient enough to learn from your mistakes and keep going, you will eventually become decent at the craft.
NY Elite: What can we expect from you in this actual year?
I’m sincerely hoping to produce the feature film “The Last to Know”, which I mentioned earlier. We do have our budget, story board, locations and many of our actors in place. However, we want to avoid Covid complications, and may delay a few months if this nasty virus isn’t under better control. Nothing can blow a production budget like having to shut down everything in the middle of a project (in this case 16-18 days) because a significant actor or crew member gets sick.