Growing up in Great Neck, David Schneiderman didn’t know exactly what career he wanted to pursue just that he wanted something that would channel his talents.
“I was very creative,” Schneiderman recalled, “and I was very determined to do something creative.”
Over the past several years, the 1989 Great Neck South High School graduate has been putting his innate sense of creativity to good use.
Schneiderman, along with writing partner Derek Guiley, will debut their new movie “Level Up” on The Cartoon Network later this month.
The movie, which will initially air a 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 23, is also slated for second life as a half-hour television series set to debut in 2012.
“I am so proud, so excited,” said Schneiderman, son of Village of Great Neck Plaza Trustee Gerald Schneiderman. “This has really been a longtime coming. There’s a lot of excitement in the air around it.”
For Schneiderman, the journey to create “Level Up” began with the end of the Writers Guild of America strike in February of 2008.
It was then that Schneiderman and Guiley began working on the movie’s script, which focuses around a group of high school teenagers who mistakenly open a portal that allows villains from the video game they all play to enter the real world and wreak havoc on their small hometown.
The movie features human actors interacting with computer-animated evil villain Maldark, along with his legion of trolls and monsters.
“We’re both avid gamers,” Schneiderman said of his shared hobby with Guiley. “I think it was pretty simple. The idea just came up, like what if a video game came to life? We started working through iterations of, should this be a movie? Should this be a TV show? We weren’t quite sure, but we were thinking of it more in terms of a movie.”
After collaborating with Cartoon Network Executive Producer Gregg Goldin, Schneiderman and Guiley were able to present a script that the network bought the rights to make into a movie and television series. The process took several years to complete.
“Finally, I think once we got the script in shape, they saw huge potential and said ‘alright lets make this,'” Schneiderman said.
“Level Up” marks the second film that Schneiderman has released with Guiley. The pair collaborated on a movie called “Chasing Liberty” which was released in 2004.
“Chasing Liberty” starred Mandy Moore, Mark Harmon and Jeremy Piven. The romantic comedy centers around Moore, the daughter of the president of the United States, who goes on a journey around Europe and falls in love with a photographer sent by her father to protect her.
“I think the interesting thing with ‘Chasing Liberty’ and ‘Level Up’ is that they’re both stories about really getting to live to your fullest potential,” Schneiderman said. “Derek and I, we really love underdog stories. Even though in ‘Chasing Liberty,’ the daughter of the president has a lot going for her, she’s still confined to a certain space.”
“Our characters in ‘Level Up’ are confined to certain spaces,” he added. “One of the boys is considered just your average geek and one of them’s a jock and one of them’s a rebel. They’re just confined to these roles until an opportunity comes up for them to break out of those roles and show that there’s so much more to them. In some ways both movies are truly aspirational.”
And that is a theme, which has served Schneiderman well in his career.
After graduating from Great Neck South, Schneiderman went to the Rhode Island School of Design, where he graduated with a degree in film, animation and video in 1994. Shortly after graduating, he moved to Los Angeles and his career in show business began.
“While I want to say my dream was always to do something creative and so I’m living the dream in doing something creative, I early on in college was able to find how to apply that,” Schneiderman said. “Right now, I am living the time of my life, creatively and professionally. I definitely am living the dream.”
Now teamed up with Cartoon Network, Schneiderman has realized the dream of making what he believes is his best film and television series to date.
As an added bonus, “Level Up” will also premiere as a video game, which can be played at www.cartoonnetwork.com, beginning on Nov. 23.
“It really was a perfect place,” Schneiderman said of Cartoon Network. “I don’t think on any other network would we have been able to make as broad a scope of a movie, where it’s as action packed as we’re allowed to be, have as many visual effects and computer generated things and also dabble in the world of gaming as we’ve been able to. It really was sort of a marriage made in heaven for everybody.”