A BRIEF AUTOBIOGRAPHY
My greatest talent perhaps is reinventing myself or maybe I’ve just had good karma.
I grew up in Philadelphia when Philly was the center of break-out rock ‘n roll and Northeast Philly was a new suburb of middle class brick row houses. What I remember most about my neighborhood was how I anxious I was to escape it. While most of my peers went to local schools like Penn State or Temple, I was fortunate and received an appointment to the US Air Force Academy. I had dreams of becoming a “jet pilot,” an adolescent fantasy perhaps, but nonetheless within reach. I could arch my shoulders, suck it in, and spit shine with the best of them. But still I was not very “military.” It was the height of the Vietnam War. Like many young people at the time, I became disenchanted with that war; decidedly not a good mind set for someone setting out on a military career. As cadets, we were taught the standard answer to any “why” question was “no excuse, sir.” I never quite caught on to that concept. While I loved the Academy’s camaraderie, I had too many questions and too many excuses to be a good soldier. So, I resigned from the Academy and went off to Penn State where I quickly got my bachelor’s degree. Shortly after graduation, I decided on another career. I would become a filmmaker.
In a masters’ program at Stanford University, I wrote and directed several small films. One of them led to my acceptance as a writing-directing fellow at the new American Film Institute in Los Angeles. And from there, other opportunities arose. In 1972, I was hired by Gene Corman to write and direct a remake of John Huston’s classic “Asphalt Jungle” and turn it into a “black” film. That’s how I became the white “black exploitation” writer-director of the MGM film COOL BREEZE. That picture did relatively well but my next film, THIS IS A HIJACK, I dolefully admit was a terrible film. As the cliché goes, I couldn’t get arrested after that as a director or as a writer.
I didn’t have the steadfastness at that time to stick it out in the business. So, I made a drastic career change. I went to medical school and became a doctor. In 1980, I graduated from University of Oklahoma Medical School and after a residency at Los Angeles County USC Medical Center, I began working as an emergency physician. I still practice as an ER “doc” but I never gave up my love of films and filmmaking. In 2013, when my son, Mischa Pollack, decided to quit his lucrative job with a Silicon Valley start-up and return to Hollywood to pursue his dream of being a professional actor, I decided to jump into the fire as well. In 2014, I produced, wrote and directed my first feature film in decades – IT’S NOT A DATE, a dark comedy about a young girl’s worst date, starring Mischa, Eric Roberts, Nina Hartley and Leah Huebner. More recently, I wrote, co-directed and produced another feature – LIFE ON THE ROCKS, five interwoven stories whose characters meet at a local bar where they find love, misfortune and redemption. This feature, to be released in 2021, stars Mischa Pollack, Ray Wise and Bonnie Bedelia.
I have also continued to write – several 1980’s prime time television dramas like Trapper John, MD and Hotel, some magazine stories, several unproduced screenplays, and almost ten years of columns for the Ventura County California STAR newspapers (Biography, Travel and Medical stories). I have also written two novels: THE PATRIOT GENE, a scientific and adventure tale of a genetically engineered American soldier; and SEEKING SINAI, historical fiction that imagines a different Exodus story, one from the Pharaoh’s point of view. With having grandchildren, I have also written several children’s books. You can find most of my writing on Amazon.com.
On this website, you’ll find more links to my creative endeavors, including some artwork. I hope you find some of it worthy of your interest.
My life has been a merry-go-round. There have been plenty of ups and downs. I’ve changed horses a lot. But, I’m enjoying the ride, still trying to catch that brass ring that defines me as a physician, a writer, a filmmaker and artist.