Hailing from a part of East Los Angeles (Eagle Rock) he thought would never be cool, Neal grew up carving mountain roads, withstanding hot blasts of desert dust, and developing countless songs and stories in cranium while touring the country on family motorcycle trips. (Both mom and dad rode.) Neal began photographing at age 7 with a point-and-shoot Vivatar and began music studies at age 12. He played lead saxophone and flute in jazz bands and Ocean 11, a noted LA 3rd-wave ska band, for which he did horn arrangements as well. Neal continued music studies in college while majoring in philosophy. Inspired by Albert Camus’s ability to formulate philosophy as story (and a couple film classes), Neal envisioned combining his artistic interests into a single discipline- film.
Since moving to NY in 1998, Neal has been busy editing, producing, and directing tv, film, music videos, and commercials. After completing work on the acclaimed documentary, Life and Debt, about the dark side of globalization, Neal started a production company. As executive producer, editor, and a director of the popular vhs and dvd series the And1 Mixtapes Neal worked with And1 to brand the yet undocumented world of street basketball as the fifth element of hip hop. It was during this time that sweetcutz was born and editing has never been the same.
As And1 and street basketball grew in popularity, Neal directed the first season of the ESPN series Streetball (Hock Films) and captured the And1 team’s tour through Europe. Neal EP’d another 5 mixtape dvds as the team traveled to Asia, South America, and Australia. It was then that Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys, a fan of the Mixtapes himself, called upon sweetcutz to edit the band’s music videos. With Yauch directing, Neal not only cut music videos for four Beastie Boys albums, but also several short films and two feature documentaries. When Yauch started Oscilloscope Laboratories to distribute films independently, Neal established the dvd department working closely with the filmmakers to produce unique artwork packaged with bonus content actually worth watching.
After working with Adam for 8 years, Neal edited tv shows for A&E, Discovery, Sundance, PBS, Spike, and MTV. Neal’s passion for film continues as a producer and editor. Works-in-progress include Console Wars, a feature documentary he is editing about the history of video games, produced by Seth Rogen and Scott Rudin. Coming in 2016, he is producing and editing Chitown, directed by Nick Budabin, a documentary that follows a teen father for over four years from a gun-ravaged part of Chicago as he overcomes odds and his height to make it to the NBA. Chitown is also a web series in development for late 2015 that draws more direct attention to the gun violence and offers hope by telling the inspirational stories of coaches, parents, activists, and leaders in the community who are positively effecting young lives in need through basketball and have data to back it up.
In addition to pursuing film, Neal has recorded saxophone with the Beastie Boys, is a member of the Musicians Union, studied Southern Style Shaolin kung fu, grows herbs and tomatoes, fathered two awesome and free-spirited kids with another on the way, and enjoys many outdoor activities, including motorcycling, where it all began.