On his first day at Harvard Law School, Adam Stein realized he was in the wrong place.
“During orientation, the people were excited to be there. It was the highlight of their life and I felt like I didn’t want to be there,” said Stein, 42, a graduate of Ransom Everglades School in Coconut Grove, class of 1995, and a Silver Knight winner in Drama.
Stein called his parents, quit law school and moved to Los Angeles to become a film director.
On Friday, the sci-fi horror film “Freaks,” written and directed by Stein and his friend Zach Lipovsky, will open in theaters nationwide, including at Aventura Mall and AMC Sunset Place.
For Stein, it’s been a 20-year journey since graduating magna cum laude in 1999 from Harvard University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in literature.
“I went to Harvard University and found something else. I made films and directed plays. I was totally addicted to it. My parents were worried and they were pressuring me to do something else,” he said about his decision to go to law school, albeit only for a day.
The film, which stars Emile Hirsch, Bruce Dern and Grace Park, tells the story of a 7-year-old girl locked in her house by her overprotective father, who warns of dangers outside. She later escapes on a quest for freedom.
The film has earned a 91 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, the film review website.
The critics’ consensus, according to Rotten Tomatoes: “Stocked with solid performances, Freaks is a clever sci-fi/horror hybrid that suggests a bright future for co-writers/co-directors Zach Lipovsky and Adam Stein.”
Stein, who went on to graduate from the University of Southern California’s film school with a degree in directing, credits his parents for his love of film. He remembers going to the Bakery Center, what is now Sunset Place, to see movies.
“My parents were big movie fans,” he said. “They took me to clubs of independent movies and showed me stuff I was too young to see at the time. Then I started doing theater. It was a great thing for me because I was a shy kid. That became my outlet.”
Prior to “Freaks,” Stein worked in minimum wage jobs in the film industry, teaching himself how to direct a film.
His mother Shayna Stein said her son is an inspiration.
“The point is rather that when a young person is determined to follow his heart and his mind, to work very hard at his chosen path, to never give up in the face of rejection or to limit his goals despite the odds, he or she can succeed,” she wrote in an e-mail.
Lipovsky and Adam met on the reality show, “On The Lot.” Although once opponents, Lipovsky said they hit it off.
“We fall in love with the fruits of the labor when we work together,” he said.
As for Stein, he plans to one day write a film featuring his native city.