1. If you had to describe yourself using three words, they would be?
Kind, creative, and funny.
2. What is the genesis of The Holiday Calendar?
The idea for the movie came from a lot of brainstorming about what had been done in the Christmas/holiday genre and what hadn’t. I was mulling a lot of different ideas for awhile and one of them involved a magical advent calendar. I started doing some research and learned that advent calendars weren’t always just cardboard/paper boxes that had chocolate inside but were in fact originally made with wood and had more meaning behind them. From there I started drawing on some of the themes I connect with in my personal life, like the struggles of being an artist or being single when those around you have chosen more conventional or “safe” paths. Although I’m no longer single, I brought a lot of my feelings from the past into the main character and that informed her journey in specific ways.
3. Did you always wanted to be a screenwriter first or director growing up? Also, who inspired you while you pursuit your dream?
I was one of those kids who knew I wanted to be a director before I even really knew what one did. I think I just knew I loved stories and storytelling and, as I grew up, I discovered that I loved not only making films but writing them too. However, the journey to actually direct films can be very frustrating as it takes so long to get projects going so writing screenplays was always the best way for me to stay creative and to continue to evolve as a storyteller. If I’m not directing, I’m writing something. Always. As for inspiration, I grew up in Northern California when “Star Wars” was a huge new phenomenon and George Lucas was a huge influence on so many young people enthralled by filmmaking. My parents were also very supportive and inspired me to continue chasing my dreams, however difficult.
4. Of all the characters you have created, which is your favorite and why?
I would have to say my favorite is a boy named Kimani, the protagonist in “Chokora,” a script I made a few years ago about the street children of Nairobi. While I have little connection to this character’s world, writing from his point of view was both enthralling and challenging and his face and mannerisms jumped off the page in my mind. I love coming-of-age stories, particularly about underdogs, and I hope one day to bring that script and that character to life.
5. What do you hate doing and why?
Hate is a strong word but I find I really have to push myself to do the research. It doesn’t come naturally to me. I think I just prefer jumping into a script or a world and figuring it out. But I’m trying harder and harder to push myself to do the hard work of developing unique but also researched characters and building the specifics of the world around them based upon real people, situations, environments or formative past events.
6. What’s the best advice you have ever received about writing?
I don’t know if it’s the best advice but a fellow writer-mentor told me that you can’t focus on the end result when you write a script. You just have to write it because it’s something you care about. You can’t worry too much about who is going to buy it or if you are wasting your time. If you have a passion for a story, that’s all that matters. Others will connect with your passion if you tell it right. And if your scripts don’t sell, you can’t dwell on it. You just have to keep going and keep writing. It’s the work that matters.
7. What was your overall experience with the director Mr. Bradley Walsh on The Holiday Calendar?
My experience with Bradley was limited but good overall. We spoke a few times during the rewrite process and I found him to be a smart and thoughtful filmmaker. He seemed to really connect with the material and was genuinely interested in making the best film possible, which meant a lot to me.
8. What is your favorite line from The Holiday Calendar?
Honestly, I don’t have a specific favorite line, but I really enjoyed writing the playful flirty banter between Abby and Ty (particularly the scene in which she runs over his Christmas tree with her car).
9. Which of your short films you made in the past would you like to see turned into a feature film? And why?
That’s a good question. My first short film, “Little Man,” is very special to me and I once wrote a longer script that expanded on that story and wove in two other coming-of-age stories set in one day in New York. The goal was to make a movie that explored those formative teenage years in ways that were unexpected and powerful. I still feel those kinds of raw, revealing and interesting independent films have a place in cinema that audiences connect with in deep ways.
10. Which story have you read that you would like to adapt into a screenplay or perhaps direct to the movie adaptation?
There are too many to count but “Crime & Punishment” is my favorite book and I actually tried to adapt it into a modern-day screenplay several years ago. I did not feel the script worked as well as I had hoped but I may dust it off one day and resurrect it. Another novel is “The Frog King” which I read many years ago and has stuck with me.
11. If a self-published author is seeking a screenwriter, how would one get you or any experience screenwriter to read his or her story to see if it would make a compelling movie?
Now that we are all connected online in one way or another, the direct but tactful approach is probably best. It’s just a matter of not being too pushy and keeping the initial contact simple and clear. We are all busy and asking someone to read an entire novel is a big ask so it’s best to just tell the writer what it’s about in the simplest way. If it’s something a screenwriter connects with, I’m sure they would be happy to read more.
12. Could you give us an interesting fun fact about your experience directing CW’s Supernatural?
Directing “Supernatural” is always challenging but fortunately it’s tremendously fun too. The crew has been together for fourteen seasons so it’s like a huge family full of different characters and personalities. Somehow they manage to make it work week after week. As for a fun fact, what people don’t realize when they watch the show is that there is so much goofing around on set. When you see a serious or really dark, dramatic scene on the show, what you don’t realize is that everyone was cracking up and joking around just seconds before. Somehow the leads of the show manage to perform with straight faces but the guest stars aren’t always successful and we have to cut because everyone is cracking each other up. Sometimes I’m laughing too hard to say “Action.”
13. Were you ever on set for the making of The Holiday Calendar? If so, could you tell me what scene you were present at?
I was not on set because I was working on “Supernatural” but I wish I could’ve come for a few days.
14. In the spirit of The Holiday Calendar movie, what is your favorite thing to do in the winter season?
Now that I have two young children, my favorite thing about the holidays is just spending time with family and recreating for them the magic I felt as a child around that time of year.
15. Last question, if you could play any musical instrument like prodigy which instrument would it be?
I would probably say bass guitar. It always looks like the most fun role on stage and you create rhythm but also support the melody.
Just want to express my appreciation for Mr. Amyn Kaderali for answering my questions. If you want to go in-depth with him and his other works please check out his website as well:www.amynkaderali.com/. All in all, get into the spirit of the holidays by checking out The Holiday Calendar which comes out on Netflix on November 2nd (TODAY!). The Holiday Calendar is a must-watch movie so don't you dare miss it. Take care and I hope you have a fine day.
UPDATE: We have sad news to report in regard to a cast member of The Holiday Calendar. The actor Quincy Brown's (who played Josh) real-life mother, Ms. Kim Porter, died on Thursday, November 15. Her last public family outing was at the premiere of The Holiday Calendar:
click here(photo by metro.co.uk). She's the third person to the left. RIP.