When I drove around the country for 10 weeks in 2011, it was during a road trip sponsored by Ford and Visa, almost two years before “native advertising” was printed in seemingly every other media story you were reading this week. The credit card company didn’t ask me to do a single thing during the project; Ford asked that we make a video inside an enormous production facility on the fringes of Chicago that, as reporters, we would have been prohibited from visiting. We were guided by minders to specific areas of the plant but we were never told what we were or were not allowed to shoot. Ford did not approve our final video or our final story.
A few weeks later, Ford asked us to contact a dealer in, as I recall, the Carolinas to set up another shoot. When I called the dealer and left a voicemail, he didn’t return my call. I took that as a sign that I was off the hook. I didn’t hear another word from Ford for the rest of the trip, even after I attempted to bake cookies on the engine block of their loaner vehicle while driving the Natchez Trace Parkway (failure) or after I warmed up some Pop Tarts on the engine block the morning of the final Space Shuttle launch (success). In multiple published photos, Stephen Greenwood, the videographer who was on the road with me, was standing on top of the vehicle, which is probably not in line with the stated marketing goals of the company. And yet, my phone didn’t ring.
Meanwhile, because we had the financial backing of two sponsors and, at this point, complete editorial freedom, we decided to do stories about a nascent art colony in small-town Kentucky, a community-minded T-shirt shop in New Orleans, the rebuilding of a tornado-ravaged town in Missouri, the weirdness of Marfa, Texas and a “spaceport” in the New Mexico desert. I also called South of the Border the country’s biggest tourist trap and pointed out that “lazy Mexican” is not an appropriate theme for a highway rest stop, a point with which some AOL readers took considerable umbrage.
In a post-mortem of the 10-week project, a business-side manager who helped broker the sales package recognized that we did a fantastic job hitting our deliverables, which were, both in his mind and on paper, a set amount of traffic from both viral clicks and placements on the front of AOL.com. Because of our story selection and execution, we hit the goals in five weeks, not the allotted 10, and I thought that was something worth bragging about. He disagreed: Couldn’t we get the same amount of clicks without sending people out on the road to create this kind of original content?
closed your mouth more
tried to be softer
less volatile, less awake
but even when sleeping you could feel
him travelling away from you in his dreams
so what did you want to do love
split his head open?
you can’t make homes out of human beings
someone should have already told you that
and if he wants to leave
then let him leave
you are terrifying
and strange and beautiful
something not everyone knows how to love.” —“For Women Who Are Difficult to Love,” Warsan Shire (via thatkindofwoman)
Here’s the latest round up of recent writings I’ve had published.
This past month I started writing for Movies.com, Fandango and have another potential gig or two in the works. I still am not making what could be called a “living” from writing, which feels impossible given how much I write.
I like when they say “dolphinately” on Kroll Show.
Attended the Sundance Film Festival as Press, yet again.
Traveled to the Grand Canyon.
Styled an ASICS America ADAnd styled and did Production Design for a Humane Society ad.
Went to New York for five days with John, to visit friends. Saw the short film I production designed and did wardrobe for at the TriBeCa Film Festival.
Film.com was officially acquired by MTV and I was demoted from Lead Editor to writer.
Traveled to Vegas with Cate, Christy and Abigail.
Traveled to Medford, Oregon with Abigail and Christy.
Visited PIXAR headquarters for the Finding Nemo 3D junket.
Traveled to San Francisco to see my friends Kelsey and Erica.
Visited Yosemite with Abigail.
Traveled to Las Vegas for Lacey’s 30th Birthday.
Traveled to Portland with Abigail and Christy.
Was quoted in a national ad campaign and New York Times half-page ad for “Smashed.”
Assistant Wardrobe and Production Design/Art Dept for “Sex and Marriage” Webseries
Held my grandmother’s hand as she passed.
Traveled to St. Maarten for HuffingtonPost Travel
Assistant Wardrobe for a FIVE KNIVES music video for “VIVE LE ROI”
Featured in the national ad campaign and commercials for “Promised Land”
Went camping in Malibu for New Year’s.
In St. Martin, if you don’t answer their flirting in English, they try again all over again in French.
On two opposite ends of the scale, in terms of tone and also in terms of personal importance, here’s my two most recently medium-length articles.
I recently ate lunch with Keira Knightley and lived to talk about it. We both ate. I ate mine and then I ate her lunch as well. No, not really. I wasn’t expecting to like her as much as I did, and I think there’s a certain magic in being surprised by people. I hope to overcome people’s expectations of me in the same way.
And, on the other end of things, my dearly loved and best-friend of a grandmother, who suffered from Alzheimer’s and dementia, passed away gently this week as myself and two of my younger sisters held her hands. I wrote about her passing, because it was important to remember.
I went to a noon screening which doesn’t happen often. On the Fox lot, sailed in, found parking and saw Jake Johnson’s parking spot from New Girl. Then when I got off the elevator the first person I run into is Jason Segel. I try not to smile at him but my face is making that weird face you make when you see someone you don’t know, and he smiles and says hello to me and I sing out a hello right back at him and keep on moving.
I wandered through a set since the theater was directly on the other side of where they’d been filming, past the insanely long boom, small crowd of extras and Seth Green. I see more parking spots, the names of shows I’d love to work on someday emblazoned on them. RESERVED FOR: and then not my name on there. I did see Liz Meriweather’s parking spot and Hart Hanson’s, but no Mindy Kaling.
It’s good to be somewhere like that. Reminds you of things you want and how you can’t forget, not even for a day or two.
I’m bad at linking to everything I write since I end up posting things at Film.com and Pajiba every week, but here’s what I’ve written lately.
Pajiba review of the sordidly bad The Details. I didn’t want to dislike it, but it made me.
Film.com review of the lovely and moving A Royal Affair. Alicia Vikander for president!
Pajiba Voter’s Guide for Movies about Hot Button Issues. One movie per issue and bonus clip of Mark Wahlberg talking to a fake plastic plant.
I’m sitting in my apartment in MacArthur Park, in Los Angeles. It’s one of the last times I’ll ever be here, in this little apartment, alone. I’ve lived here for two years. Three weeks ago the landlord came to my door and told me they didn’t want to pay to get a plumbing and foundation problem fixed with the house, and that we’d have to leave. Not just me, but two or three other units as well.
I’ve got some boxes packed, I’ve been throwing some stuff away. Mostly I’ve felt like an unmitigated failure at life for about two weeks which has resulted in some minor acting out, mostly related to eating. Can’t keep my apartment, can’t keep my cat, can’t keep my job that was so dear to me. Can’t keep anything.
I’m going to miss this apartment with the high ceilings and the overgrown forest outside my door. The love that was shared here, the late nights and early mornings, the hard work, the thinking and writing that took place here. I’m going to miss my life that I built with such care. I won’t miss the insane landlords, the screaming children that live next door, the broken or missing things, the disappointments and rejections that occurred here.
It’s been weird learning to be alone, again. I’m not that great at it. We’re working through it and I think I’m slowly learning to depend on him less. (I say, as if he didn’t come take down my satellite dish a few days ago. An event during which I sort of fluttered around uselessly.) I think that part of my life is over though, unless things change. We both know what needs to change, if so.
Packing up my books reacquaints me with them and I leave out the Anna Ahkmatova (someone once called her name the most perfect poem she ever wrote as a poet), and reconsider the number of Beryl Markham books I have. For a while there I once thought that maybe I was actually the reincarnation of Markham (I’d settle for even marginally blessed with her way with words and her love of adventure), but I was born in May and she didn’t pass away until August. It’s possible, but unlikely. I don’t really believe in that, but it was funny to think of, briefly.
In any case, it’s time to do something different for a while, live with less, see what I can make with my mind and a computer or two. I finished my first feature and have two or three in various stages of completion. If that’s what I want, then there’s a lot ahead. A lot of work, heartbreak and more. I’m in a good place for it though, and will be in a even better mental place for it soon.
Just been listening to a lot of Kate Bush the past couple days, and “The Sensual World” it is.
I ask him how many movies a year he sees that he actually likes, and he says maybe one. I tell him it’s about the same for me. I said the name of the last movie I loved, and that I had seen it three times in theaters.
He closes his eyes, leans back and says we just shouldn’t talk about it. I have trouble thinking of anything in the world I don’t want to talk about, so I forge ahead.
“What didn’t you like about it?”
He is quick with his answer, saying that he’d never seen a more misogynistic, hateful, vile, disgusting, self-satisfied piece of filmmaking. That it made him angry that he’d seen it, and he wished he never had.
I said I thought it was visually stunning and so original and different, that was impressive, that it was thoroughly modern.
He put his hands behind his head, closed his eyes again and said he wished I’d never said that, that we could go back to a time when I hadn’t said I liked that movie.
“But nevertheless she kept constantly referring to him, in her mind, as if he was still the person to whom her existence mattered more than it could to anyone else. As if he was still the person in whose eyes she hoped to shine. Also the person to whom she presented arguments, information, surprises. This was such a habit with her, and took place so automatically, that the fact of his death did not seem to interfere with it.” - Alice Munro
I leave the number and a short
message on every green Volvo
Is anything wrong?
I miss you.
The phone rings constantly.
One says, Are you bald?
Another, How tall are you in
your stocking feet?
Most just reply, Nothing’s wrong.
I miss you, too.
One night at a bar with the man I was seeing, we stood outside as I spoke of my pre-production woes. He called it a, “once in a lifetime opportunity.” I stood there stunned before replying a bit too strongly that it was only the first of many.
Before that moment I didn’t know I felt that way.
I write about the experience of making “Destruction Party” over at Turnstyle News.
On Food: “I don’t drink fancy coffee because I don’t want the calories.”
On their last date, she “couldn’t finish her beer cause she was too full”
On Coffee: “From my house to the subway there’s no Starbucks. There were coffee trucks but I needed the efficiency of Starbucks. Parisian coffee is so good, mm, it’s so small, it’s smaller than a Starbucks tall. In parts of Paris, it’ll be like 6.7 euros for a cup of coffee, so expensive but so good, I only had a couple times in Paris, it was so much better than here.”
On Oceans and Travel: “My favorite ocean is the Caribbean because it’s warm.”
“I went to Ibiza last fall when I was in Spain. That was nice. I don’t know why the French Riviera was rocky, I don’t know what’s attractive about that.”
On Italy and Finance: “I don’t know what’s up with the Italian government. If they want to improve the Italian economic situation, they should hire someone to check tickets. in France they actually checked, but for instance, their transfer tickets you could use the same tickets, no one’s on the train for two or three hours.”
On French: “I know like basic words. By living in LA I feel like I’m exposed to a lot of French, I knew all the words on the menus.”
On School: “I choose my classes wisely, I want to do well. I only know people who went to business school when times were rosier. It definitely hasn’t been a vacation for me. It’s very difficult. Being in New York, I think it was even harder.”
On Morocco: “I wouldn’t recommend Morocco for women. We’d get haggled at. It was fun.”
Best of all, every person this person has ever loved is there. Even the ones who got away. They hold this person’s hand and tell this person how hard it was to pretend to get mad and drive off and never come back. This person almost can’t believe it, it seemed so real, this person’s heart was broken and has healed and now this person hardly knows what to think. This person is almost mad. But everyone soothes this person. Everyone explains that it was absolutely necessary to know how strong this person was. … They … have little medals that they are pinning on this person; they are badges of great honor and strength. The badges sparkle in the sunlight, and everyone cheers.
-Miranda July, This Person
John: “Anyway, he won’t be alone with her and it has been several dates.”
Me: “That is so weird, I hate when people are weird about stuff like that.”
John: “Yeah, it’s a bad sign.”
Me: “I dated this guy and he’d always go ‘Your hand, Milady?’ and offer his hand dramatically. It always made me cringe.”
John: “That sounds like something you would do.”
Even my own mother asks me a lot of questions
I tell her I don’t wanna talk
But she doesn’t stop, she’s just wondering.
- Best Coast
Sylvia Plath (via modernhepburn)
This would be sweeter if I didn’t know how this worked out.
Some quick shots from yesterday’s commercial spec. The lovely Dani was our model.
This was a spec with lots of different little moments and scenes so we ended up using about twelve different wardrobe changes, and I was making choices on the run with two HUGE bags of clothes on my arms and a big rollaway suitcase, an IKEA bag filled with shoes and a hat box.
A fun and beautiful day, despite the demands of the job.
Last year I did my first fitting ever, and it was at Adam Brody’s house for Double or Nothing. We were picking out jeans, he mentioned this one pair was a little loose. I said that maybe he had time to wash them before we were shooting, and he said that he didn’t think these were the sort of jeans you washed.
I had driven there in my old Volvo with no air conditioning. I remember I was sweating profusely because I was so nervous, and I felt the need to explain this away by saying it was the fact I had no air conditioning. I woke up this morning thinking about that day, grateful for the good things that have happened to me since then, hoping the future holds much more.
I like this picture because it has two of my favorite people in it, my hair and make up friend Erin, and my 1st AD friend Ally. Also our entire cast, Louisa Krause, Adam Brody and Keith David. Also you can see my wardrobe rack, this was the first time I’d ever done wardrobe, I’d never even used a steamer. I loved it and still do. (Styling, not steamers.)