Craig Zisk’s first feature film, “The English Teacher,” which opened on May 17, starts out as a lighthearted inspirational comedy. It stars Julianne Moore as Linda, an unmarried 40-year-old high school English teacher in a small town.
Linda lives her life vicariously, through the heroines of the literary novels she reads and teaches. But her life changes when a former star pupil, Jason (Michael Angarano), returns after his efforts at playwriting in New York failed. He’s decided (or has been pressured by his handsome single father, played by Greg Kinnear) to give up on his dreams and go to law school. Linda can’t stand the thought of Jason abandoning playwriting, so she decides to mount his play. It all seems so obvious and straightforward — until the story takes a dark turn.
Zisk got his start working on Gary David Goldberg’s “Brooklyn Bridge,” the most wholesome and Jewish shows on television since “The Goldbergs.” He has been an executive producer — of “Weeds,” “United States of Tara” and “The Larry Sanders Show” — and a director whose credits include “Nip/Tuck,” “Entourage” and “Parks and Recreation,” among others.
Zisk spoke to The Arty Semite over the phone from California just four days after the birth of his twins, Noah and Oliver. He talked about starting out, transitioning from television to film and the difference between Texas Jews and the rest of us.
Curt Schleier: You got your start in television through your friendship with Gary David Goldberg. How did that begin?