An autistic 15-year-old boy steals money from his boss to provide rent for his abusive father, who uses the money to repay a loan shark.
This film was based on the novel by Landon J. Napoleon. I was looking for something to do as my directorial debut. I knew it would have to be small in budget and I was hoping to do something that was character-based, as opposed to the action and/or fantasy I’d been known for as a screenwriter. I found the book during my lunch break while I was on jury-duty in Pasadena. I flew out to Arizona, where Landon lived, pitched myself as a candidate to adapt and direct the film, then ultimately optioned the book with my own money and wrote a screenplay adaptation. Because of the subject matter, it was difficult to get financing for. I was a first-time director and completely unproven, but despite this, John Leguizamo came on-board the film for scale (meaning he took the minimum amount of money a SAG actor can earn on a film). With John as the lynch-pin, I was able to secure other actors like Oliver Platt and Natasha Lyonne. Eventually, Wesley Snipes came on board for 6 days of filming as well.
We made the film for about 2.5 million dollars and shot it in East Los Angeles over the course of 25 days. Sometimes, when everyone is working for peanuts, there are no egos involved. Everyone is just doing it because they like the project. This turned out to be the case with ZigZag. To date, I’m still quite happy with how the film turned out. I took it to South by Southwest, where it received a good reception. When it was released, it essentially got buried — only playing in a handful of cities. But the entire experience, from beginning to end, remains one of my fondest memories.