Professor Kenneth Friedman, born in New York, is a graduate of the NYU School of Film. As a student he wrote and directed SHOWDOWN, winner of the National Student Film Festival. Professor Friedman has written numerous movies including WHITE LINE FEVER (Jan Michael Vincent, Kay Lenz), HEART LIKE A WHEEL (Bonnie Bedelia, Beau Bridges), JOHNNY HANDSOME (Mickey Rourke, Ellen Barkin, Forrest Whitaker and Morgan Freeman) and CADILLAC MAN (Robin Williams, Tim Robbins). Professor Friedman often works as a rewriter, including the films THE FUGITIVE, UNLAWFUL ENTRY, BAD GIRLS and THE GETAWAY. In television, he wrote and was Co-executive Producer of the six hour limited series, THE GRID (Julianna Margulies, Dylan McDermott). Professor Friedman also directed and wrote the feature MADE IN USA (Chris Penn, Lori Singer, Adrian Pasdar), which premiered at the Director’s Fortnight at Cannes and was featured at many film festivals including Sundance and Munich.
What do you do best?
With my mind, write. With my body, ski. With my experience, teach.
What makes you the best?
Commitment. Commit and Finish. When I commit to something, work, play, passion… I finish, whether it takes days, months, years. There will be projects, relationships, promises still in process when I pass, but until, I will never let go. (Understanding, of course, that not everything is legally, practically or ethically under my control.)
What are your aspirations?
Have every story I write be produced or published; have it seen or read by my children, my grandchildren and my students. The rest is gravy.
A movie I wrote and directed, MADE IN USA, was closing night at Cannes (Directors Fortnight section). I showed my director’s cut, although the film had been recut by the financing company, which threatened me with suits and jail if I dared show my version. I dared on behalf of my actors, my crew and myself. I received a 10 minute standing ovation at the Palais at Cannes after the screening. It wasn’t the accolade, it was finishing what I committed with this film that made it my “biggest success”.
Most challenging moment(s)?
See above. And three years later when I was at the top of my career, I walked away from the business for seven years to ski, bicycle and travel. I got married, had a child and came back. I had to start over, reinventing myself as a TV writer. Ten years later I walked away from the business again to teach and write for myself.
“Replace Vague Ideas With Clear Images.” This advice was written on the wall in the background of Jean Luc Godard’s “La Chinoise”. It succinctly describes the challenge and art of writing for the cinema or television. I have it on the wall in the background of my writing office.
Favorite People/Role Models?
My grandmother, Wanda, my grandfather, Albert, and my mother, Annelies, who all survived the Holocaust and Concentration Camps, and who taught me life is commitment and finishing. My father, Stan, who taught me aesthetic. My wife, Patty, who taught me never be satisfied.
Haig Manoogian who taught me the wonder of film.
Marty Scorsese who taught me the wonder of filmmakers.
Vail, Zermatt, Snowbird, any ski hill. Small Hope Bay, Bahamas, any SCUBA lodge on a deserted beach. Hong Kong, Paris, Berlin, any city with CREATIVE ENERGY.
Stay healthy, active, creative and loving, with a few movies thrown in.