The Daily Quarterly: What made you want to get into show business?
Dave Zani: I always loved movies and animation but I think that true moment it clicked for me when I was very young, maybe 4th grade. My parents took me on a family vacation to Disney World and Universal Studios in Orlando. It was the first time I had gone to the Universal theme park and back then, in 1994, they still had a lot of classic rides like the original King Kong ride with a giant animatronic ape! This blew my mind, I remember being stunned by it all. At the gift shop I bought some foam bricks – props. I was fascinated with this concept – fake things that seem real for the purpose of entertainment. That was a light-bulb moment that changed my life forever.
TDQ: What was your favorite sic-fi/horror movie growing up?
DZ: As a kid growing up, “Star Wars” – hands down. I was a kid in the mid 90’s , a dark time for Star Wars fans. It was in between “Jedi” and Episode 1, the stores literally had no Star Wars toys or anything. I had VHS tapes of the 3 original movies, the original cuts! I watched these over and over again until the tracking lines in the tape became too much to see past. I use to paint my other action figures to represent Star Wars characters since no toys were on the market then. I often think about how lucky a 10 year-old is right now, the Star Wars world is their oyster, hahaha. In high school, my friends and I got really into “Alien” and “Aliens.” The tone of the film was something that was another wonderful memory discovering.
TDQ: Who are your influences?
DZ: Since I was very young I always admired Walt Disney and Jim Henson, mostly because my mom adored them and their work. Later on, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, of course. Any kid growing up in my time would say the same, I think. As I grew older my scope and tastes began to vary with people like Roger Corman, Mike Judge, Jim Wynorski, Quentin Tarantino, Tyler Perry, Paul Hertzberg, Samuel Arkoff. I am fascinated by many different types of film and filmmakers. Things you would think are not on my list, I might be a big fan of because I enjoy and respect the process the filmmaker developed.TDQ: What is the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
DZ: I hear the same advice from people – they either say it directly to me or I hear other people say it in interviews and speeches. Do not wait around for people to make your dreams come true – go off and do it on your own. I believe this statement like it is a religion.
TDQ: What is the worst advice you’ve ever gotten?
DZ: Great question! I was once told to keep my “stupid ideas” to myself. I made sure to never do that!
TDQ: You’re also a member of the American Society for Amateur Archaeology. How does producing a movie compare to finding a rare historical artifact on a dig in some desert?
DZ: Film making is fun, it is a fulfilling career. I love to tell stories and entertain people but I think uncovering artifacts and stepping in the footprints of people from long ago is the most magical thing and lifts my spirits to very high places because it is true adventure. It does not include much stress (for me). I am not true scientist, of course, dealing with the politics of it all (which I am sure is very stressful). I often think about the moment that Howard Carter opened the door to King Tut’s chamber for the first time in 5,000 years. To see things no one has laid eyes on in that amount of time – just sitting there as the days passed, remarkable to think about.
TDQ: You’ve also worked with Richard Belzer, developing content for his website and his production company. What did you learn from working with him?
DZ: I loved working with Richard. He is a great comedic talent with outrageous vision and wit. It was one of the first times I was really working with someone who was well known. I was young and nervous at first, but he was so humble and funny it was easy to create cool work. On the smaller scale of things, I learned timing from Richard, the importance of it and the basics of developing good timing. On a larger scale, I think just learning about him and his career and all the different projects he has worked on, really showed me that you can go anywhere in this world.
TDQ: What project are you working on next?
DZ: Right now I am working on something really special. It is more mainstream, animated and has a rich story, for which I am very proud! It is an epic mythology I am creating, with my own modern twist. I will have more to say soon! To keep in the loop my website OldMillEntertainment.com will have updates in time.
TDQ: Where do you see yourself and Old Mill Entertainment in five years?
DZ: I believe that we will continue to expand our horizons and to continue developing projects that increase in sophistication and audience reach. I am fascinated with the mixing of genres to create new and fresh things, I am fascinated with history and the story of people on Earth – this is the foundation of my work. As I continue to learn more about my interests I will continue to create new stories and characters that people can relate to, be inspired by and be entertained with.