Worked as a firefighter for three years. Witnessed a friend killed by an explosive backdraft which became the basis for the screenplay Backdraft (1991).
Graduated from UCLA Film School writing program shortly before selling the script for Highlander (1986)
A committed traveler, his explorations have taken him to war-torn Somalia, Uzbekistan, Namibia, the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, the arctic island of Svalbard, Indonesia, and Argentina.
In 1985, while still an undergraduate, he sold his university thesis screenplay, "Shadow Clan", for $500,000. The script would become the basis of Highlander (1986).