Photo by Heron Furtwangler

Cory McAbee was born in northern California as the youngest of three children. His father was an auto mechanic. His mother became a preschool teacher in later years. He spent his summers living with his grandparents in the Nevada desert.

McAbee’s formal education ended with high school. As a young adult McAbee moved to San Francisco where he was offered work as a doorman at a nightclub. For the next twelve years McAbee worked as the head of security in bars and nightclubs throughout San Francisco.

In 1989 McAbee formed the musical group, THE BILLY NAYER SHOW. . In 1990 McAbee completed the hand painted stills for his first animated short, BILLY NAYER, which premiered at the 1992 Sundance Film Festival.

Photo by Todd Merrill

Over the next two years, McAbee wrote and directed short films. As a means of self-distribution, McAbee developed a live musical performance that incorporated his short films. The show was called THE BILLY NAYER CHRONICLES. It was presented at the 1995 Sundance Film Festival as the festival’s first multi-media event.

After THE BILLY NAYER CHRONICLES had run its course, McAbee left his job and lost his apartment. He lived without a home for the following three years. During that period, McAbee compiled ideas for his first feature film musical, THE AMERICAN ASTRONAUT. The original storyboard/screenplay version of THE AMERICAN ASTRONAUT was accepted into the 1998 Sundance Screenwriters Lab.


Still from The American Astronaut

In 1999 McAbee moved to Chicago. Shortly after moving to Chicago, funds were secured for the production of THE AMERICAN ASTRONAUT in NYC. McAbee moved to Manhattan for nine months to work as the film’s writer, director, lead actor, composer, musician and graphics painter. THE AMERICAN ASTRONAUT premiered at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival.

In 2001 McAbee moved to Brooklyn New York. The following years were spent touring with THE BILLY NAYER SHOW. Between tours, McAbee continued to write feature length screenplays.

In December of 2006, McAbee was commissioned by the Sundance Film Festival to create a short film for mobile distribution. McAbee created a musical piece entitled RENO. It was the first film created for mobile viewing. As a result McAbee was asked to speak about new media at technology conferences throughout the world. This exposure to new technologies inspired McAbee to write and design a feature film for screens of all sizes. In 2007 he wrote STINGRAY SAM with the intention of self-distribution on multiple platforms. STINGRAY SAM premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. For his work in alternative forms of filmmaking and self-distribution Cory McAbee has taught Masters Classes and lectured at universities and symposiums worldwide.


Still from Stingray Sam

In 2010 McAbee wrote and directed a mini-feature entitled CRAZY AND THIEF. Crazy and Thief was created without financial backing through the use of inexpensive and basic film and recording devices. Crazy and Thief has won awards worldwide, including “Top 10 Best Undistributed Films of 2012” by Indiewire.


Still from Crazy and Thief

In 2013 McAbee completed the screenplay for his first opera.
He is currently illustrating his first graphic novel entitled, Rabbit.
McAbee lives in Queens New York with his wife and three children.

McAbee’s new film,THE SMALL STAR SEMINAR, follows the story of a singing motivational speaker (Cory McAbee) who travels the world urging people to give up their goals, stop reaching for the stars and to start looking for the stars within their own minds. The seminar features optimistic songs about quitting, accepting one’s own limitations and the power of sitting quietly. Through impromptu lectures and conversations with his live audiences McAbee introduces his theories of Deep Astronomy, Truth vs. Fact, and the Romantic Sciences.


Illustration by Jonathan Arthur Ashley