Exclusive Interview with Nathan Zen-Sapien – Filmmaker
Born upstate NY in a suburb of Buffalo called Tonawanda. Nathan Waire aka Nathan “N8” Zen-Sapien moved to the Midwest after his parents suffered a terrible divorce. As a child, Nathan focused his attention on the more introverted forms of art such as illustrating and painting. By the time he had reached the age of 17 Nathan began to get recognition for his creative talents winning several prestigious art awards. Attending a local college for 6 and half years he dropped out of college with just a semester’s worth of credits to go before graduating. Uprooting and hoping to find a better life, Nathan and his entire family moved east to NJ. Out East a new fire was kindle within him. For the first time, the performing arts seemed like a viable way to make a living. For 13 years, Nathan struggled as a film and TV actor before getting a reputable casting agency to take him in as talent. However, it was during this waiting period that he began to write screenplays some of which got recognition from notable screen writing agencies from Beverly Hills to England. None of the agencies bought the screenplays but their interest in his material caused a new flame to arise within and that was to film one of his own scripts. Grabbing a camcorder and filming smaller versions of his scripts immediately got him recognition in the NYC area. His first short film showed at the Times Square Arts Center in the heart of NYC. His second film won a coveted spot for 6 months in the W.O.E.I.G.O. Competition on MSN’s online video channel. He has filmed everything from drama to horror including stunts that have used animals and scenes devoted solely to actors who are minors.
NY Glam: Tell us a little about yourself, growing up and your passions.
Although I was born out East, I moved to the Midwest early in life. This influenced me but I always felt out of place or more progressive than my peers. It wasn’t until I moved back East as an adult that I began to see African-Americans in truly leadership type roles.
NY Glam: Did you have any specific influences growing up that lead you towards the film industry?
I was a strange kid. I got good grades when others failed and I focused on my art especially mixed media projects. When it came to film I liked all the blockbusters but gravitated to the classics. I watched a lot of black and white movies and LOVED Akira Kurosawa and Stanley Kubrick. I also found escapism in anime when I lived in the Midwest. Whenever, I went to Blockbuster I had to pick me up some anime just to survive!
NY Glam: What are you currently working on?
I am currently focusing on raising funds or selling my award winning script called HG3 or Human Game 3: The Revelation. I was also given a tentative title of producer on a short film by Griotmedia.net who have focused mainly on health issues in the past.
NY Glam: What were your main responsibilities on this film?
On my film I was/am doing everything which is partially why I had to postpone the filming of it this summer to the fall. What I really want is for someone else (producer/production co.) to take over and buy the script while offering my actors an opportunity to audition for some part in the film. That’s how far we had progressed… Actors had signed release forms, locations had been set, and schedules had been changed numerous times to fit the shoot but at the 11th hour our source of funding got pulled due to a technical error!
As for the producer role with Griotmedia.net I am acting like an Associate Producer more than anything else… Find people and crew contacts!!!
NY Glam: Can you tell us about your experience in working with your team in this film?
Most of the cast and crew for my film I have worked with before on other projects with the exception of a few new actors. What I love is the versatility of some of my veteran actors. E. Vincent Burrows, Harold B. Gibson and Brian M. Wixson have all worked as actors in my films and as producers on various shorts. Steve Yank (a talented guitarist) has also acted and provided musical scores for several of my films. Some of their versatility comes in the form of acting ability as well like young actress Morgan Hope. Once she gets recognized for her range I hope she remembers us little people who gave her a start (LOL!!!)!!!
NY Glam: What was the most important thing for this movie to achieve from a narrative and character standpoint?
Speaking of HG3 is like talking counterculture! It is very rare to see African-Americans in intellectual roles or in roles where their humanity is relatable to the average person; neither super human nor sub! So when these characters were created over a decade ago, finding a Black character on screen whether he was a villain or hero was not common ground and when you talk about serial killers you never mention African-Americans because those killers are seen as gangbangers or thugs.
NY Glam: What makes a film interesting for you? What are three qualities that you look for in a movie?
1) A great movie has to have a plot twist that you can’t see coming
2) Characters that you can relate to or at least understand.
3) An ending (as well as beginning) that makes you think or test your limits.
NY Glam: What project helped you launch your career?
I was an actor for about 10 years when I finally landed an agent but she took 6 months to get my headshot out there so I took my camcorder and filmed a trailer for a book I had written. One day online I came across a contest on Filmaka.com for shorts that were 3 to 5 minutes long that was paying out some serious cash. So I took my trailer, edited out the book stuff, added new music, and added an ambiguous quote at the end of it. My 3 minute short won $1500.00 so that is when I stopped being an actor and pursued filmmaking.
NY Glam: What criteria do your team?
Team work plain and simple. If your ego is too big you are out!
NY Glam: What are you most proud of? Describe your biggest accomplishment to date?
I have shown all over the USA from Times Square to Los Angeles. I have also shown in England, and different parts of Asia!
NY Glam: As a screenwriter, what is the most important aspect of building a character?
Audience rapport! The more they care about your protagonist and especially antagonist can mean a lot for the continuing of a series and perhaps a franchise.
NY Glam: What are your ambitions for your writing career?
Sell. Sell!!! SELL!!!!!
NY Glam: Do you have any upcoming projects that you’re super excited about?
NY Glam: What advice would you give to someone who is aspiring to enter the film industry, especially as a film director?
Be persistent but don’t get caught in a rut. Always look for new ways to reinvent yourself or your career.
NY Glam: Can you discuss any future projects or direction you are taking in regard to film making?
I have been told that I am a great suspense writer so I guess that I will continue to write suspense while mixing in other genres like Sci-Fi and Horror!!!