Please explain what just happened.

I wish I knew. It all seems so strange and not the way I imagined it.

What is your earliest memory?

Standing on Circle Drive in Hastings-on-Hudson, and looking at my mother hanging laundry on a second floor porch of the house we were renting. I remember an orange box of Tide on the porch as well — nice product placement. I think I was three.

If you weren’t a filmmaker, what other profession would you choose?

I much fear finding out the answer to that question.

Please describe the current contents of your refrigerator.

Coca-Cola, Yodels, and a lot of cheese and tortillas for making quesadillas.  My daughter and I make a lot of those lately. (The Coca-Cola and Yodels are for me).

What verb best describes you?

A verb is what, an ‘action’ word? As opposed to an adjective which is a ‘descriptive’ word? (I’m still learning this fancy grammar stuff.)


What would you say to yourself if you could go back in time and have a conversation with yourself at age thirteen?

“It doesn’t get much better than this. Enjoy these years.”

What are the steps you take to regain your composure?

Xanax and fleeing.

Define “success”.

Being permitted to do what you love and being able to afford to live while doing it.

From what or whom do you derive your greatest inspiration?

Fear and ego.

What change do you want to be in the world?

Frankly, I’m so consumed by my own problems that I haven’t really had a chance to think or care about the world’s problems — Wait! I meant to say “Stop global warming.” Yes, that’s it.

Are you pro- or anti-emoticon? Please explain.

Reluctantly “pro.” It seems to beat the alternative of having people think everything you’re saying is serious, when only 62% of it is.

How are you six degrees from Kevin Bacon?

Other than him being on my flight to Sundance last year? He was in some movie with some actor who was in one of my movies. I’m not sure what actor, or what movie, but I’m willing to bet this is true just by the law of averages.

What makes you feel most guilty?

Parental weaknesses or failures.

Please list three things you never leave home without.

The usual. Wallet, keys, and a device I couldn’t imagine leaving home with ten or fifteen years ago: my cell phone.

What is the worst piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?

“Turn your screenplay about a man swimming down the Hudson River while his friends accompany him in a boat into a stage play” comes to mind.

What is the best advice you’ve ever given to someone else?

Perhaps telling a friend to go to journalism school instead of law school. He seems happy enough as a journalist all these years later, and how often do you meet people who say “Boy, I’m sure happy I went to law school and became a lawyer?”

What do you consider the harshest kind of betrayal?


Of all the game shows that have graced our TV screens throughout history, which one would you want to be a contestant on and why?

Jeopardy.It’s the gold standard of game shows and the least-gimmicky one out there, and I have an idiot savant-like database oftrivial information rattling around in my brain that I’d like to cash in on.

What do you want to know?

How everyone else manages to do it.

What would you like your last words to be?

“What are the chances I’d reach my 80th birthday as successful and happy and healthy as I am today?”

Please explain what will happen.

I’m afraid nothing will.

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PETER CALLAHAN was born and raised in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York. A high school dropout, he drove a taxi for several years before returning to school, eventually earning a Master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University.

Moving to Los Angeles, Callahan optioned several screenplays to Hollywood studios before returning to his hometown to write and direct the independent feature, “Last Ball”, in 2001. The film had its world premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival and its international premiere at the San Sebastian Film Festival in Spain, where it was the sole U.S. film selected to compete in their prestigious New Director’s competition, and went on to screen in festivals in over 20 countries around the world and win several awards. His latest film, “Against the Current”, had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in 2009, and will be released by IFC/Sundance Selects via their Video-On-Demand service in spring 2010.

6 responses to “21 Questions with Peter Callahan”

  1. Greg Olear says:

    I don’t know…”Against the Current” the stage play could have been the world’s first Community Pool Dinner Theater. You may have missed a golden opportunity there. ; )

    I watched Jeopardy a few weeks ago for the first time in ages. I know Alex Trebek shaved his mustache a million years ago, but he still looks funny to me without it…although it was good to watch him get obvious delight when the snarky contestant got an answer wrong. Like watching an old friend.

    A well-played 21, Peter. I’m looking forward to the film.

  2. Zara Potts says:

    Great interview! I loved your answers and found myself nodding and saying ‘yes, Yes! YES!’ at many of them.
    Especially aging.. what a betrayal.

  3. Simon Smithson says:

    What is a ‘yodel’?

    • Konstantin says:

      Yodels are frosted, cream-filled cakes made by the Drake’s company, which was bought by McKee Foods after former owner Old HB went bankrupt. Yodels are distributed on the East Coast of the United States. They are similar to Hostess Brands’ Ho Hos and Little Debbie’s Swiss Rolls.

  4. Peter says:

    To say Yodels are similar to Ho Ho’s and Little Debbie’s Swiss Rolls is like saying Ferrari’s are similar to Ford’s because they are both automobiles.

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