On a daily basis, people seek advice from Dr. Eric Weinstock regarding root canals and oral surgery. What they might not know: he also possesses insider knowledge of the film industry.
When not overseeing his solo practice in Canton Massachusetts or educating students at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, Eric Weinstock, DMD, steers his skills toward screenwriting. Two films based on his original screenplays (not adapted from books) were recently completed or are nearing completion: Toby the Burping Pig, a family comedy film starring Joey Lawrence, Amber Montana, Drake Bell and Jenny Taylor, and House Rules, a fight action film starring Tom Sizemore, Brian Dennehy, Kevin Nash, and others.
How does this young professional carve out time for such a prolific side gig?
“One of the things I appreciate the most about dentistry is the schedule predictability. Likewise, unlike many other fields, when you leave the office your work in large part is essentially done. My lawyer friends often lament that the case they are working on always hangs over their heads (sometimes for years!) until its completion, whether or not they are in the office and actively working on it. Dentistry takes up most of my work week, but when I’m not performing endodontics, I have time to pursue other interests, like screenwriting,” said Dr. Weinstock.
“Screenwriting in particular, is the one part of the movie-making process that you control individually and completely (at least in the early stages). If you are working on a screenplay, you control the story, the characters and the length of time to complete your script. If you are inspired, then you can work at a feverish pace, but if you have nothing to say, then your script lays quiet. In that sense, it’s really a beautiful hobby, you can be as busy or as idle as you wish to be, only answering the bell if you are feeling creative. Even if your character in your script is dangling from a cliff or has a raging toothache, you don’t have to deal with it until you want to!”
Dr. Weinstock shared a bit of the inspiration behind his recent works.
“The burping pig story was at the request of a producer who was targeting a family audience. He wanted a pig and a little girl and left it to me to come up with the story. I had never written a family film for kids, but really enjoyed it. Even though the premise is a bit silly, there is a little bite to the story. I like stories with an edge and even with a little girl and a little piggy there is still some grit to this film. It’s scheduled for release in November,” he said. “House Rules, on the other hand, is super intense from start to finish. It’s gritty, grimy and at times even a bit gory, and hopefully its intensity will translate to the screen. It’s really a perfect vehicle for Tom Sizemore, who is a master at bringing a smoldering intensity to his characters. [I’m] very excited to work with our lead actor, Jamie Nocher, as well. He has completely committed himself to the character and is an excellent actor who is on the rise in Hollywood. Remember his name.”
During production, Dr. Weinstock’s interactions with the actors have run the gamut, based on individual methods and styles.
“Each actor has his or her own style. Some want to talk to me about their character, as they try to get a better feel for whom they are portraying, while others wish to interpret the character solely themselves, without a writer’s input. At the end of the day, the actor needs to be in lock-step with the director more than anyone, since it is the director who visualizes the film and has a keen interest in how every actor translates from page to screen. I probably work with the directors more intimately than with the actors, in terms of character development.”
When asked to share a bit about the production process with thedailyfloss.com readers, Dr. Weinstock offered a glimpse of the “roller-coaster ride” that is filmmaking.
“The production process is a roller-coaster ride, to be sure. There are so many hurdles along the way that sometimes it’s amazing any films ever get made. The truth is, most films don’t happen, even after significant investment is made in them. The highest hurdle of course is getting financing. Investors are skeptical about film financing and for good reason, since there are more flops than successes. However, if you plan the project correctly, keep the budget lean, and attract quality talent, the result is usually favorable. I suppose, it’s no different than anything else really. Hiring the right people and choosing the right project is integral to making it work. But, even then, you have to be a little lucky. Nevertheless, it really does all start with the script. You can have a lousy movie even if you have a great script, but you cannot have a great movie if you have a lousy script.”
Next on his schedule?
“I have a few other projects I’m working on at various stages. The most immediate one, and one I am most excited about, is a quirky dramedy about modern-day romance called Dan & Carla. We are in pre-production with this film and hope to shoot soon. We have a few Sopranos stars attached, including Vincent Pastore and Maureen Van Zandt, and the wonderfully talented Sean Young. We are still trying to secure some of the last bit of financing, but once we do, we are ready to shoot. I’ve put a lot of myself into this project and can’t wait to see it happen.”
To learn more about Dr. Weinstock’s work on independent films, such as Perfect Smile, a dental dramedy, read his interview with Incisal Edge dental lifestyle magazine: http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/32b480a8#/32b480a8/24