A Candid Conversation with Filmmaker
Rob Alicea is an Award-Winning Screenwriter, Director, Producer, Actor … you name it,
and you’d better get familiar with his name because you’re gonna hear it a lot.
His name and his production company Leaving Normal are attached to so many projects
in development, he probably doesn’t even remember the number of them all.
Therefore we’re really pleased to have him on our July issue.
Before we let him share with us his journey, here is a little about him.
Unfortunately in his first year of college, Rob was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, an aggressive form of cancer. During the period of receiving treatment, Rob managed to stay very active, still attending college and continuing to work. Eventually, he would spend some time in the hospital, which he used as time to catch up on movies.
Upon graduating from Hunter College, followed by the William Esper Studio, Rob began working in film and television as a production assistant, eventually working up the ranks to become a producer.
Most recently Rob worked in production on the 2020 Oscar-winning film “THE NEIGHBOR’S WINDOW”, and was hired to pen the half-hour pilot for “HOOKED” starring comedy legend Jon Lovitz, Catherine Curtin, Eric Close and Broadway’s Andy Karl.
He also served as Executive Producer on “COUPLES THERAPY”, which is an official selection at 2020 SeriesFest.
Currently, Rob is penning the feature screenplay “TIS OF THEE”, the true story of slave-turned-spy, James Armistead, as well as developing the pilot for “ROGUE” with George C. Romero, son of famed horror legend George A. Romero.
Without further ado, we’ll let Rob share his story. Thank you so much for that introduction! It kinda sounds like I’m all over the place, and in the world of filmmaking, it can definitely feel that way. But trust me when I tell you there is an order in all this chaos.
As a kid, I was known for being quite bright, and also as someone who desperately searched for that thing… that passion that I could direct my focus toward. Math, science or anything athletic really did not do it for me, though believe me, I tried. Looking back, the fact of the matter was that I just had way too much energy for one kid. Seeing this, my teachers recommended my mom enrol me in some sort of activity that would allow me to harness the creativity they all saw in me.
My mother enrolled me at the local public library after school reading program. Its structure was unique in that we would not only read books but also have characters assigned to us that we would act out. It was also at this time that I suppose I fell in love with writing. As someone today who would never consider himself studious, it is ironic that looking back, it was the library that essentially changed my life.
If this were a movie we would expect a budding career in the arts immediately following my discovery and passion for performing, but my path has definitely not been a linear one. I attended Xavier High School in Manhattan, which is known for being one of the top private high schools in New York City. It is also known for its JROTC military presence and program. If you had told me I would join and go on to perform as part of my school’s national champion exhibition drill team, the X-Squad, I would not have believed it. Looking back, knowing now just how much I love the performing arts, it actually makes perfect sense. Being a member of the X-Squad meant hours and hours of practice and mastery of a craft that would require more focus and discipline than I’d ever known.
After high school, I did not initially jump straight into college, but rather, I decided to work at my local Blockbuster Video. I figured I could buy some time while figuring out my next move; the five free rentals per week didn’t hurt either. Never before had I consumed so many different types of movies, after all, this was way before the time of Netflix. It was then that you could say my love for movies began to meet that love of performance that was still brewing and lingering in the background. After six months I finally decided to give college, well, the old college a try.
For some reason, ‘Communications’ just sounded good, so that became my major. Full disclosure, I procrastinated when it came to choosing classes, so I rushed to select the ones that I appeared to be the least school-like. I saw Theatre 1 was available, and thought to myself, “Well, I at least know something about this world.” My decision to choose a major that would flex my writing skills, and a minor that would help me to fully embrace my love of performance was not as intentional as it was inevitable.
Ready for a plot twist? I had a bump on the right side of my neck that continued to grow until it became the size of a small egg. I was never worried about it. I simply figured I had pulled a muscle or something. A year into my college career I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, an aggressive form of cancer.
During the period of receiving treatment, I stayed very active, still attending college, and continuing working at Blockbuster. Eventually, I would spend some time in the hospital, which I used as a time to, guess what, catch up on movies. Two movies, in particular, seemed to hit me like a ton of bricks: Good Will Hunting and Clerks. Audio commentary, which is something I greatly miss in our age of streaming, was a game-changer for me, as it let me in, not only to the process of making these movies but also gave me insight into the minds of the filmmakers. Getting them off the ground was by no means easy, and for anyone that knows me, the easy route is rarely ever the path I take.
It was then that I made a promise to myself:
IF I MAKE IT OUT OF THIS THING ALIVE, I WOULD BECOME A FILMMAKER.
Rob Alicea Official Website: www.robalicea.com
Leaving Normal Productions Official Website: www.leavignormalprod.com
Rob Alicea Official Social Media:
IMDb Page: www.imdb.com/name/nm2236012/
Leaving Normal ProductionsOfficial Social Media:
The Creatives Mixer Instagram: @TheCreativesMixer
— To be continued in our July 2020 Issue of Cut Frame Magazine. —
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