Eric DelaBarre Biography
Writer - Director
After receiving a Bachelors degree in Business Marketing, and minors in music and theater arts from Fresno State University, Eric DelaBarre began his career with Executive Producer Dick Wolf on the NBC series Nasty Boys which was shot on location in his hometown, Las Vegas, Nevada. Starring Benjamin Bratt (Traffic, The Great Raid, The Set Up) and Dennis Franz (NYPD Blue) Nasty Boys was cancelled after airing only 13 episodes in the fall of 1990. Eric then began work for Dick Wolf on the critic coined "long shot" Law & Order which enlisted a never seen format of; half hour cop show and a half hour lawyer show. After six years with Law & Order, and gaining membership to the prestigious Writers Guild of America, Eric left the comforts and steady pay of Universal Television to become a Freelance Writer/Director.
In the spring of 1997, he wrote, produced and directed Stop The Cycle, a national anti-smoking commercial for The American Lung Association. Subsequently, Eric was nominated Best Director in the national commercial category for the ITS Monitor Award, competing against corporate giants such as Coca-Cola, NFL Films, Budweiser, and Ford Motor Cars.
After penning two episodes for the USA Network show The Big Easy, DelaBarre threw caution to the wind by entering the Independent feature film business in 1999. Maxing out 22 credit cards, he wrote, produced, and directed his debut film Kate's Addiction. Subsequently, he was awarded the Filmmaker of the future at the Newport Beach International Film Festival and has been written up in the LA Times, Daily Varity, and Hollywood Reporter. His work has been seen on HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, Starz Encore and the USA Network. Eric has been a member of The Writers Guild of America since 1997 and Women in Film since 1999. Eric’s debut book, Why Not; Start Living Your Life Today has been endorsed by NY Times best-selling authors Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup) John Gray (Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus), as well as ABC News, Awareness Magazine, Publisher’s Weekly and Fitness Magazine.
Most recently, Eric served as President of the Santa Monica Boys & Girls Club Council as they had their most successful auction in the history of the club. Eric is currently adapting Neale Donald Walsch's NY Times Best Selling book, Conversations With God, Executive Producing a his latest project, Competition America, which will change millions of lives before one episode even airs.
Eric DelaBarre lives and works in Santa Monica, California.
For more information, visit www.iwillremember.com
Eric DelaBarre's interview with Judy Sloane
Eric DelaBarre did the unthinkable, walking away from a lucrative job on the successful TV series Law & Order to face the uncertainty of a career as an independent writer and filmmaker. Since then he’s received rave reviews for his book, Why Not; Start Living Your life Today, from such notable sources as ABC News and Publishers Weekly, plus best-selling authors Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and John Gray (Mars/Venus). With his screen adaptation of Neale Donald Walsch’s book Conversations with God being shown at Agape on September 16th, and going into wide release on October 27th, I asked him about his change in career, his new movie and his Agape connection.
Did you have a spiritual upbringing?
I began to understand something in High School about the way I was feeling about myself. I was in the band...in theater...AND I played sports. To some, that is a lethal combination when you think of a social life. Band people didn’t like sports. People in sports thought many things about people who were either in band or did theater. Most of which wasn’t very pleasant and I’ll spare the colorful metaphors used to describe them. What I knew to be true about me is that I loved doing what I loved doing. I wasn’t going to ask permission or cave to peer pressure about what I loved. I developed a tenacity for my hobbies and things I wanted to accomplish. Looking back on it, this practiced was preparing me for a career in Hollywood. The people who enjoy longevity in this business, are the people who stay in. It’s not easy. It’s a challenge to say the least.
When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
In college. Since I was a music and theater major my first two years of college, I had never had to take some of the other electives courses needed to graduate. When I transferred into the Business School, I was required to take a few English and writing courses. Professors loved the exercise of “free writing” and “Journaling.” Through these exercises, I began to notice that my writing had a common theme; about living the life you dream about. It was at that moment that I knew I was thinking differently than most of my friends. I began to think about the possibilities of my life, rather than securing a “good paying job.” These “good paying jobs” can and will quite possibly make you a lot of money, but they can also leave a person emotionally bankrupt. I’d much rather live a life in the grip of my dream than behind the wheel of a new BMW.
What did you feel was lacking in your life while you were working on Law & Order?
I’m not sure if I was lacking anything, but I knew something was missing...with my soul. I had no relationship with my soul. Sean Penn’s father, Leo had a major impact on my life. While he was shooting an episode of of the short-lived Dick Wolf series, Nasty Boys (Benjamin Bratt, Dennis Franz), Leo had lost his wallet...which I found in the screening room after watching dailies. Talking with him later, Leo asked me; “what do you want to do with your life?” I told him I wanted to become a film director and I was working for Universal learning from Dick Wolf...sort of a post graduate education. He repeated the question over and over until I finally caught it. His message to me, if you want to become a director, GO BE A DIRECTOR. Truth is, I was living my dream “in theory” and not “in practice.”
What gave you the courage to pull away from a successful series to go out on your own?
Great question. I was at a party in the Hollywood Hills during the 6th season of Law & Order. This host of this party was some movie producer I didn’t know, but was invited through a mutual friend. Typical Hollywood party...focusing on quantity rather than quality. When my friends wanted to leave for another party, I decided to stay and “work the room” a bit. I found myself upstairs in one of the many “pocket parties” (those parties that break out within a party...in the kitchen...by the pool...the living room...etc). I was in the upstairs office of this producer and found a paperweight on his desk...it was a glass pyramid with the word SUCCESS etched into it. I picked up the glass pyramid and commented on the weight of it...like a baseball. I turned to the couple standing next to me and said; “this would make a great murder weapon.” They looked at me as if I was crazy and walked off. I called out after them, “it’s okay, I write for television.” As if that was an excuse. It was at that moment when I noticed my life; my days were consumed with devising new and exciting ways to kill people. I have never felt so alone in a crowded room than that moment. That was the beginning of the end for me. I quit a few months later.
How did you get the idea to write Why Not; Start Living Your Life Today, and where did the ideas in the book come from?
The book started in 1988 during college, while I was writing in my journal. I was working through my own “stuff” by keeping a journal of affirmations about my life. Through this, I began to notice that the exercise was helping the way I felt about myself. When I was about to walk away from Universal Studios and Wolf Films, I pulled out the journal and began to outline chapters for a book. At first attempt, the book was over 300 pages. Knowing the attention span of most readers nowadays, I began to rewrite and summarize things. I finally got it down to 160 pages and finally stopped writing. Writers never finish, we just find a place to stop. Looking on the book now, from the eyes I have, I see so many areas I’d change, but it’s okay. There will be many more books...films...and expressions. WHY NOT was my first and will always remain special to me because it has proven to be the tip of the iceberg...the iceberg of my consciousness.
When Stephen Simon approached you about writing the screenplay for Conversations with God, what was your first reaction?
He first asked me if I’d consider writing the script when/if he ever got the rights to it. I thought, wow...this guy’s such a Hollywood producer; he’s asking me to adapt something he doesn’t even have the rights to? But...a year later, he resurfaced again and flew me up to meet Neale. They were interviewing writers for the job. I really needed this job and when I heard they were looking at other writers, I had runaway thoughts of lack and limitation. I began to think that I wasn’t good enough to write this movie. It was crazy. Here I was, claiming to be in the business of enlightenment and I was entertaining such self defeating thoughts?
But, there I was...on the plane to Ashland to meet Neale. I remember I was watching one of my all-time favorite films Jerry Maguire. The Captain came over the intercom and made the following announcement; “We’re getting reports from Medford Tower that the fog might be a problem. We need about one mile visibility to land, and right now, it’s dancing right around that mark. This could change any minute, but we’re going to give it a try. If it’s too thick, we’ll need to land in Redding and bus you in.”
My heart began to sink. All sorts of things began to race through my mind; is this a sign? No. It’s not a sign. I battled these runaway thoughts like Luke Skywalker fighting back Darth Vadar. I began to think, limited thinking gets limited results. Don’t do this to yourself...not now. This is important to you. Remain present. I shut down my computer and slowly closed my eyes. And then…right there on the plane…I began to pray…in affirmation. I began to repeat; “I will land in Medford and I AM the writer of Conversations With God, the movie.” “I will land in Medford and I AM the writer of Conversations With God, the movie.” Over and over I said this to myself. Truth be told, I have never been a big prayer type of guy. I seem to pray through affirmative thoughts, words and actions. And that’s okay. Prayer is still prayer...whether your sitting in lotus position or riding your bike (my favorite prayer time of all), it’s still prayer. Then…I felt the tires touch down. I had landed in Medford. I spent 10 minutes in worry for nothing. Usually, that’s what worry produces, NOTHING. It’s merely a waste of one’s time.
After a quick drive into Ashland, Stephen escorted me up the stairs on Neale’s house. Walking in, I shook hands with Neale and immediately felt as if I was shaking hands with my brother. Something was going on. Truth is, God was going on. With an amazing view of the Rogue Valley, we sat down in the living room and got right to it. Neale asked what I thought the movie was about. I remember saying something to the power of our own intentions…and that God is moving through all of us...always.” Questions like these flew at me for about ten minutes. To me, each question could be a 20 minute talk about affirmational living, but this wasn’t the platform, so I was firing back with laser point accuracy. Or, so I thought. Neale stopped the interview and looked over to Stephen and said; “if you don’t mind…I’d like to stop here.” I remember feeling my heart sink into my shoes like Niagara Falls. What happened? What did I do wrong? Did I laser too much? Not enough? What was it? As my internal debate and self evaluation raged back and forth, Neale continued his sentence by saying; “…this feels right. He’s the guy.” They nodded to each other and Stephen said, “Let’s get to work.” They both asked if that was okay with you. I was so cool sitting there, I just smiled and pulled out my notebook and said; “sounds great.” I remember saying to myself, “I AM the writer of Conversations With God, the movie.”
How hard was it to adapt book into a movie, and how much input did you get from the book's author, Neale Donald Walsch?
We had a couple of intensives at Neale’s house. It was 8 hours a day, sitting in his living room, listening to all the stories from his life. Going a bit further, I wanted to get to the heart of what his feelings were about what he was going through. I wanted to emotionally connect the audience with this amazing story. After the first 4 day intensive, I was sent off to write my first outline. I had a month and a half to do this. There was sooo much information to break down, I knew there would be a lot of mental work before I began writing. Neale has lived such a full and exciting life of overcoming one’s internal struggle of lack and self loathing, I wanted to let the work sort of “percolate” in my own soul before I put pen to paper, so to speak. At no time did I become afraid of the task at hand. In fact, I wasn’t worried at all even after a month of “percolating” the outline, I began to think to myself; “Hmm...I better get to work.” Finally, with two weeks to my deadline, I sat down to build what would be the first draft outline. Then...it just happened. I wrote the outline in 7 days. It was a freedom in writing I had never felt before. It was at this moment, I knew I was in the presence of my soul call; bring consciousness into Hollywood. I had a desire to take this film to the multiplex’s across the country. Stephen didn’t share in this desire. He only cared about “the choir” -- Neale’s book buying audience. I think it was a missed opportunity to bridge the gap, but in the end...it’s perfect. There are many projects to come where I can fill my vision of bridging the gap. This was the first step in a long career of heartfelt expression for me. Everything is working on my behalf. I know this to be true.
When did you first come to Agape, and what was your reaction to the first service you attended?
I was doing a film in 1998 and my offices were located on Olympic Avenue -- the Lantana building, which was right across the street from Agape’s old location. I remember going to work on Sunday mornings to put in a few hours while the office was quiet and every single time, the parking lot was filled. I saw these people who were taking my parking places walk across the street. I was fired up. I wanted answers. I wanted to talk to the man in charge. So, I shot across Olympic and in my best irritated tone, I asked a smiling Usher; “What is this place? Who’s in charge? The Usher replied, “it’s a church,” I was like...”oh...kay.” Guess the “guy in charge” was God, so I walked in and sat down like a kid who just spoke out of turn in class. Eric Peterson was at the piano singing...which was shortly followed by Rev. Michael taking the stage. It was cool...but I wasn’t ready yet, so I left.
I came a few times here and there...mostly on the holidays, but it was Easter 2000 when “it” happened. I made a “conscious” effort to stay home on Saturday night so I could wake up for Easter Sunday’s Sunrise Service. By this time, Agape was now in Culver City. I had been attending, but not “religiously.” I usually was the guy falling asleep in the back row. When in fact, I was asleep the whole time. But...this morning was different... something was going on. When Rev. told the story about the chicken... inside of the egg... asking God for a bigger egg... and how all the chicken needed was a new way of seeing... that story caught me like a lightening bolt. So much so, I stayed for all three services that day. I went up to Rev. after service in the famous “hug line” and said; “I caught it...no more hitchhiking...I’m here...for good.” So, it began. I was coming every week...Wednesday and Sunday like Rev. Michael was giving away free Laker tickets or something.
I began to serve whenever and wherever was needed. I joined the I AM Mens Ministry and took my first “new member” class. But before that, about a week after Easter, my friend Lynn Rose invited me to dinner one night. Afterwards, she asked if I wanted to come watch her rehearse with a singing group she was in. I said, sure...I had no other plans that night. It just so happens that the rehearsal was in Rev. Michael’s and Rickie’s living room, and the “singing group” was TAG (The Agape Group). When I walked into the hallway to look for the bathroom, Rev. Michael was coming home from work through the back door (their garage is in the back of the house)...he said; “Wow...now you’re in my house?” I almost died. He was joking of course, but it was a funny. Then...during my first Revelation Conference, while working on the production team, my life became clear; this was my calling...living a life of enlightenment. Discovering new ways of looking at my life and the life around me, searching out something higher than I already “thought I knew.” What you already know is old news, what you don’t know is the land of exploration and possibility. Why Not go after it!!!!
Has coming to Agape changed any of your beliefs and how do you incorporate spiritual truths in your work and life?
Going to church from time to time is an activity. Most of my church going experiences in life were just that...an activity. I finally began to understand what it means to live a life of consciousness by practicing spiritual principles on a moment by moment basis, not just on Sunday. Essentially, living a life...an authentic life...based on love and compassion, in pursuit of the truth. Through this path of “waking up” I soon discovered that some of my friends no longer fit. Some of my thoughts no longer fit. I made a commitment that I would no longer just live a life on the surface. I can visit the surface because I think our society thrives on the surface, but I want something more, something deeper. By surrounding myself with like-minded individuals, I am able to remain and practice a life as authentic man. My best friend is Rev. Charles Hall. My hiking buddy is Mark Victor Hansen. My spiritual teacher is Rev. Dr. Michael Beckwith and my mentors include; Neale Donald Walsch, Robert G. Allen, Cameron Crowe, and Stephen Simon. Not a bad group, if you ask me.
You're now going to be writing the screenplay for The Prophet - what challenges is that book going to represent to you?
We’re still in negotiations with the project, and just a few days ago, I was offered the adaptation job of Betty Eadie’s best seller, EMBRACED BY THE LIGHT. To be honest, I’m not worried about the task of adapting The Prophet or any other book for that matter. I view this as an opportunity, not a challenge. This book found it’s way to me, so viewing it as something hard or difficult would...well...would be blaspheming what IS. What IS is simply this; I asked for this type of work to come into my life. All too often, we desire a certain opportunity to come into our life, but when it comes, we get nervous and begin to worry about whether or not we can answer the call, or limited thinking of “what if I make a mistake,” or “I think I’m in over my head.” I’m trying to live a life where runaway thoughts like that just keep on running. I no longer wait for the other shoe to drop, because I pick up my feet and run into the celebration of that is my life. Why not BE the celebration you seek, by living your dreams!!! Simply put, WHY NOT; Start Living Your Life Today.
For more information about Eric DelaBarre, please visit his website at: www.iwillremember.com