Meet Kevin O’Neill

Alright, Kevin thanks for taking the time to share your stories and insights with us today. What’s been the most meaningful project you’ve worked on?

Most of my screenplays are based on events that happened in my life. My feature screenplay “Trestles” is based on a real event that happened to me when I was twelve years old and living in California. It’s a coming-of-age story and the event changed the trajectory of my life. My film “Man in the Woods” is based on my father’s last years with Alzheimer’s and my most recent film “Screaming into the Wind” is based on a woman I personally knew many years ago, when I was an actor living in Los Angeles, who was in an abusive relationship. Her situation was bad, and I personally watched her disintegrate before my eyes. I found myself asking “why don’t you just leave?” Since that time, I’ve come to realize that it’s just not as easy as that. Women can be placed in harm’s way if they leave a relationship of an abuser and that even goes for males that are abused. Their partners can become more violent and sometimes even lethal. Having children, the lack of resources, affordable housing, and the lack of control from restraining orders are other important reasons why women won’t leave. I have also written several other screenplays and short films about my life.

Awesome – so before we get into the rest of our questions, can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers.

I was a professional firefighter in my twenties where I had been working for six years. One weekend I had a paralyzing panic attack that made me think it was a heart attack. At that time I had been working in theater as a hobby and fell in love with it. I moved to Los Angeles in the 80’s to pursue acting. I lived there for ten years and primarily worked in television commercials. When I came back to Florida I was approached by a local acting school to teach acting. I did that for fifteen years and then I was asked to speak at a directing class at Full Sail University specifically on acting. Not long after, Full Sail hired me to teach in the directing program. But, it would be a student who asked me after class one day “what are your credentials for teaching directing?” That question pushed me into directing my first short film and that short film turned into ten short films I would write and direct over the next fifteen years. To date, we have won 59 awards at film festivals.

Is there mission driving your creative journey?

I have written seven feature screenplays and two television series. My goal is to move on from the short film arena and move into feature film directing. My style of writing and directing is along the lines of people and life’s struggles. My favorite films are “Bridges of Madison County”, “The Bucket List” and “The Fault in our Stars” to name a few. My goal in storytelling is to help the audience feel a connection to the protagonists and care about the characters. Ideally the audience will be transformed as they identify with the struggles, and hopefully they will understand their pain.

What do you find most rewarding about being a creative?

I think the rewards come from hearing how people are moved by the stories we tell. Sometimes I even hear that people changed their viewpoints on life based on the struggle of our characters. Film has always had the ability to change the way I think about myself and the world around me. The reason is that great movies make me think. They can make me compassionate and inspire me to help others. My goal is to have that specific effect on the audience.

Are there any books, videos or other content that you feel have meaningfully impacted your thinking?

I have several great books on all aspects of filmmaking. On Writing Save The Cat by Blake Snyder, on Directing I have two books, Directors Tell the Story: Master the Craft of Television and Film by Bethany Rooney & Mary Lou Belli and Directing Actors by Judith Weston, and Film Directing; Shot by Shot: Steven D. Katz and on Cinematography, Cinematography for Directors: Jacqueline B. Frost


  • April 20, 2018
    Jesse Cox

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    • April 20, 2018
      Amber Webb

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