Thursday, December 11, 2014

Livin LA Vida Local has moved

In the same way trailblazing hipsters move up in the world from Koreatown to Silverlake, so too has my blog moved.

You can read all about my life (or lack thereof) in LA at 

Stay golden, pony boy.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Cat-roversial Matter, or: We Want Our Rights Meow

IT'S OCTOBER BITCHE$$$$$ AKA THE MAGICAL TIME OF YEAR WHEN it doesn't make a god damn difference because it's still 90 degrees out.

's too damn hot.
No but really, October is probably the best month in all of month-dom and I am so excited that everything is brown and orange and red and covered in a gross excess of fake cobwebs. I'm sure I'm not alone in this. October also seems to be the month where people wake up from the boredom of summer and remember that there are things to go out and celebrate-- traditions to uphold, baked goods to pay homage to.

Also there are spiders. Lots and lots of spiders.

I'm writing little "la-tee-ta"s about the wonder of Autumn because the other thing that I want to talk about is not ready for public consumption yet. Yesirreespongebob I am gearing up for an unveiling of sorts, and believe me, I'm dying to share it with the world. It's very exciting.

Almost as exciting as a freshly-carved chair.
In the meantime, I guess I'll tell you a little bit about this cat I met. He was a nice cat. We met at a cafe. Oh I'm sorry. We didn't meet at a cafe. That's absurd. We met at a

 Now I know what you're thinking.

"What's that, some kinda cafe with cats running around inside of it?"

Psh. SON that's exactly what it is.

This is serious. Do you guys have any idea what this means? It means that it is literally possible to have a recurring dream so many times that it physically manifests itself in the real world. A cafe where god's little sassy thank you cards roam about doing what they do better than any other creature on this planet: be adorable and ignore you.

The concept of pet cafes is apparently an international phenomenon that is attempting to make its way over to the US. I'm not an expert, I just watched the Kickstarter video. What I went to this past week was a temporary pop-up installation where the folks behind Catfe rented out a small space in Chinatown and did a "sample" Catfe. This was basically to promote the project and give the public a nibble of what a Catfe really is. It's painfully straightforward. You go to the cafe, order food, and there are cats around. I think you pay a fee to go inside, but, y'know, cats. For all your logistical questions they're already loaded with answers, but I don't want to talk about health codes. I only want to talk about cats. Forever.

Yeah, I'm one of those people who loves cats. We know this. We've established this. Deal with it.

The way this cat does.
To be honest, the concept of pet cafes is actually kind of a conflicting cat-flicting one for me. RE: health codes, I don't give a flying cat. A cat can sit by me while I eat anytime. In fact, I pre-fur it. I also don't doubt that the cats are very well taken care of... a business like this sits on a landmine of potential cat-lash from animal rights activists and I'm sure (/I hope) they are being overly-caring to debunk any possible animal cruelty claims. Perhaps it's petty of me, but I'm more concerned with the obcatjectification implied by a Catfe. Or any pet cafe, for that matter. Truly, the cats are there as an accessory, serving no function in the estabbylishment beyond aesthetic. I'm sure not many people are concerned about this, but it does actually bother me. It's essentially Hooters with cats instead of large-breasted women; the main difference being that a cat's self-esteem is unfaltering.

Now this exists on the internet. You're welcome.
In all partial seriousness, I do feel this is something to be wary of. Strewing cats around a room like furry vases brings us closer to the idea that cats are fun little pillows we get to smoosh our faces into whenever we feel like and further from the idea that they are living things that, like humans, live moment to moment in a continuous flux of wants and needs. Do the cats want to be around people all day? If they don't, and they have no escape, then that bothers me. If they're okay with it, then I guess I'm okay with it. And if they don't care, well, that wouldn't be entirely out of character, would it?


Final conclusion: none. Just hoping people will think about it and come up with the moral verdict I have failed to produce.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

One-Eyed, One-Horned, Flying Wallpaper Putter-Upper

Hello. No post last week, because life. But I'm back with arms full of wondrous narrative treasures.

One of the cool recent happenings was the set I worked on this past weekend. It was a short film that was being shot at Silver Dream Factory, a funky studio with all sorts of sets that I often had to tunnel through to get from point A to point B, ensuring my life felt like an extremely genre-confused movie.

But I prefer the term "genre fluid."
Since I just sort of arrogantly strut onto sets without any real background or formal education in set design, every set I work on is a guaranteed learning experience. I'm fortunate enough to even have quasi-mentors, aka unnecessarily kind and intelligent production designers who patiently teach me how to do shit. I got recruited on this set by someone I've worked with in the past, who taught me a ton on our last gig and even more on this one.

On this particular set I was not the production designer, but the set decorator. When movies have larger budgets, the art department sometimes gets the luxury of stratifying its responsibilities. Here we had our production designer, the head honcho and final authority (besides the director) on all artistic decisions, the set decorator who gets to do the fun stuff like decide what goes where in the picture, and the prop master who makes sense of the chaotic mess of props and furniture and keeps the most important pieces on hand. Now, I say that divvying up these duties is a luxury, but on this set it was definitely a necessity. We had so much shit, both to do and to keep track of. In the end, three people was hardly enough to undertake our undertakings.

90% of this shoot was wallpaper. Lots. and lots. of wallpaper. Sickening amounts. The surface area we had to cover was unbelievable. And because we couldn't actually apply the permanent adhesive of the wallpaper to the set walls, we had to lay down a complex matrix of painters tape and carpet tape beneath it... essentially, we covered the same four walls three times. Specifically, these walls:

After about 12 straight hours of staring at a wall, getting evil mutant tape boogers stuck to your fingers and scissors, trying to match the edges of wallpaper patterns together, and pretending not to hear the DP's passive-aggressive remarks about how long this is taking, you are sometimes tempted to hate the world and everything inside it. But then, eventually, you step back:

And you think, "Well, we are some bad-ass interior decorating motherfuckers." And you know you are right.

For me, this weekend's shoot had a lot to do with transformation. The above photos are a drastic example, as well as the transformation of the kitchen. The kitchen transition, however, will actually appear in the movie, since there is a flashback that takes place there. Behold:

Dirty scary kitchen

Clean un-scary kitchen
We also completely redecorated a bathroom, created rain effects with a pvc pipe and a spray bottle, and used a wind machine... which both sounds like and vaguely resembles what Leonardo DaVinci would one day coin "the fan." Because that's exactly what it is.

That's enough of that chatter. Another exciting development is the newest addition to my job collection: agent assistant! Yyyeah buddy, it's official now. I'm working in comedy and comedy development. I go in a couple times a week and talk to stand-up comedians and casting directors and watch comedy reels and it's super fantastic. Plus the perks are bomb diggity. Last night I got into a show at the Laugh Factory for free, where I both watched and met like a metric buttload of big-time comedians. There were a couple exciting drop-ins (speedy comedy vocab sesh: celeb-status comedians who come by the club last minute and say "hey, lemme do some jokes," and then they do) including Dane Cook and Paul Rodriguez. Wut?!

Anyway, that's just me bragging about how great my life is. However, if we're talking full-disclosure honesty the truth is my work-work-life-work balance has been tough, in the sense that it is nonexistent. Between assisting my director, assisting my agent, production designing, being a friend/girlfriend, and requiring clean laundry, I find myself trying to mash my obligations together into a cohesive schedule. I'm going for jambalaya but winding up with succotash.

Seriously. This is how god punishes vegetables.
Every obligation is a conflict for the other, and I can't lie... it's really, really tough.

And out of sheer insecurity I feel the need to end this blog on a high note. Hey, check out this fat squirrel!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

In Apple Valley, Hike Takes You

The weekend started off strong with a trip down to SD for boyfran's birthday. Happy birthday, boyfran.

After a night of drunken buffoonery involving lots of friends, beer, hard alcohol, and a prize wheel, I drove my righteous booty back up to LA to meet up with my three friends Casey (girl version), Casey (boy version), and Lee to embark on the journey of a lifetime: a backpacking excursion to the Deep Creek hot springs in Apple Valley. Please put sunglasses on before viewing:

And somehow, the place is even prettier than in this photo. It's the Meryl Streep of nature.

"Where does such a magical place exist?" you are probably wondering, with a Flapjack-like twinkle of wanderlust in your eyes.

Is this cartoon still relevant to you people?
It is located here:

That ain't no red brick road, y'all. That's a good 2.5 hours' hike. To get to the magical hot springs you have to navigate about 4-5 miles along an unmarked path. It's a challenging hike with lots of inclines and declines and straight lines and felines. Not to mention you're also carrying everything you'll need while you're camping out there-- food, water, shelter, clothing, toilet paper, copious amounts and varieties of psychedelics... by the time you've been hauling everything uphill on your back for an hour you start wishing you had left your 1990s tv set back at the car.

Compound all this with the fact that, especially in recent times, it is WAY too hot to go outside. I'm currently in default with my bank because I won't go out to the mailbox. Can you imagine rigorous and prolonged hiking in the mo' flippin' desert? No way, osprey. So, what do we do? We hike in the dark.

Every iteration of previous-me would have been scared to walk around in the forest at night. The only difference between them and current-me is that I didn't really think about it until we were out there doin' it. Funny thing. As it turns out, some forests aren't filled with misunderstood lab mutants.

And others are.
They are, however, filled with beautiful stars, lush desert plants, and the sounds of invisible creeks rushing below you.

When we finally reached the creeks at about 10pm, we dropped our junk in the sand, put on our bathing suits, and joined the other campers who were swimming around in the hot springs. Many were in the nude, so of course, when in Rome... just in case you're wondering why I don't have any photos of me enjoying the hot springs.

The site was sparsely populated with friendly, fun-loving, naked hippies. It was a perfect place to be. I was sad when, on the following evening, we had to finally pack up our gear and hike out.

Fortunately, I didn't have to say goodbye to nature as quickly as I anticipated, because on the hike out we got utterly, completely, hopelessly lost. One guess of a turn became a second guess of a turn became a third, until it got to a point where the four in our crew had zero clue where any of us were going. It was dark, we were exhausted, and everything looked like trees. We thought that surely if we kept heading in the right direction, we would make it back to the random Twin Peaks (which is a real place!) off-ramp where we had left the car.


9 miles in and no such luck. We had been hiking along the face of a mountain for nearly 4 hours and seen nothing promising... except an aintfuckinwitchu bridge enshrouded in darkness that joined the two adjacent mountain faces. It was fun playing the "Guess how many yards you'll fall to your death to" game as we crossed.

Ambiguous guesswork soon led us down into the ravine between the two mountains, which was a treacherous downhill climb bested only by a similar escapade on the way in, where we lost sight of the trail and slid halfway down a mountain face before finding our way again. (Fun digression to that story: my friend saved my life by pulling me back up to the trail with a poncho. Just spend some time with that mental picture.)

Once at the bottom of the ravine, we trekked through the river bed, searching for the alleged trail that never quite appeared. Half of the river bed was dry, but yes, the other 50% was in fact a river bed. That's when things got pretty Oregon Trail.

Despite the fact that by that point two of our flashlights had died and we had run out of water, it was an invigorating experience sloshing through the river in the dark. Had I not been completely exhausted and, y'know, needed water, I would have been content to do it for longer. But by our 12-mile mark I just wanted politically-incorrect slaves to carry me home on a banana leaf.

That did not happen. Instead, I somehow climbed up an impossibly steep cement bridge that had been built into the side of the mountain. Yup, we did takesies-backsies on the whole "going down into the ravine" deal and climbed back up.

By the time about 6 and a half hours and nearly 15 miles flew on by, we at last struck asphalt. We followed it to a gate that indicated we had been slogging around in a restricted military zone. We were in Victorville, several miles from the car.

From there, one member of our party (and the decided hero of the evening) literally took off running to get to the car and drive it to our location so that we could go home. In the meantime, the other three of us sat and waited. At that point we were 89% dead, so we unrolled our sleeping bags and napped on the side of the road.

I'll skip through the part where we momentarily hitchhiked with a dude until discovering the road we needed to get on had been closed on that side of the mountain for years. But that also happened.

At long last, we reached home at 6am (only 6 hours behind schedule!). And I spent the subsequent 24 hours not moving, because every inch of my body had crystalised into a solid glacier of pain. Regardless, it was a grand experience to be coerced into bonding with nature. Being with 3 very good friends also helped. In fact, they made it worth it.

The hot springs were lovely enough on their own, but this weekend will be among one of my more memorable experiences. I can say that much.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Rube Shooting Videos at Youtube Studios

Tonight's (this morning's? time is relative) post will be brief. On most other nights I would diligently take 17 paragraphs and 3 personal anecdotes to explain why, but for now, let us chalk it up to this: other writing. It is an exciting and stressful time to be me. I wish I could slow down time and zip through the world like in Clockstoppers.

Unavoidable observations before moving on:
1. It is amazing to me that short-sleeved shirts over long-sleeved shirts were ever a thing.
2. If you found yourself in hyper speed would you really spend that much time playing with a fucking bee?

So last week I booked a production design gig for a something I'm not allowed to talk about yet, lest the mighty goog of Google fall upon me. I am, however, allowed to share Instagrams. So here's where I was:

At the fabulous YouTube Space in Los Angeles, and yes, I do mean fabulous. The YouTube Studio has all the hip bells and whistles you might expect of a trendy multi-million dollar corporation. Google treats 'em gud. To my understanding, the space is available for rent and free for YouTube users who have achieved a certain number of followers, so that's kind of cool. The YouTube Space boasts several large and fully-equipped sound stages (big, empty, usually expensive rooms specially designed for building and shooting movies in), and is decorated with lots of cool furniture and fun/confusing post-modern art pieces.

Frankly, this one is obscene as it is racist.
But personally, for me, the highlight was this coffee bar:

The punny name alone would have been enough, but everything on the menu was gratis (typed in italics to create the illusion of sophistication). I enjoyed it far more than the typical c-stand:

After much deliberation, I've decided I'm not going to explain what this is but rather direct you to the Wikipedia article. Don't say I never redirected you to anything.
The shoot was swell-- good cast and crew, and a fun new studio to discover. I hope to return soon, for more free macchiatos. Oh yeah, and to PD some P's!

...That didn't sound inappropriate until I typed it out. Welp. That's showbiz.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Agent Double-OMG

The hilarity of my last post is that while I so proudly and willingly preached to all you babies about making decisions and sticking with your passions, I soon after went into a spiraling fire-tornado of overwhelming indecision so severe the USDA Fire Service mistook it for an imminent threat and raised fire danger levels to "very high."

Note to PSA-land: if your mascot is going to be referencing to anything as "very high," you probably shouldn't name him "Smokey."
Which leads me to make the following amendment: if you're having trouble with indecision, it's good to have level-headed people in your life who can be the voice of reason when you're too busy running around like a headless chicken. This is exactly where my source of re-invigorating calm came from, and I'm happy to report that I'm back to my cheerful, relaxed holier-than-thou self. I also got a good pep talk from my boss. See guys? She's like, totally nice. And she just so happens to be a certified life coach aside from the 1 million other things she does as a director. Convenient? Chyeah. I'll take those free consultations over dental benefits any day.

Serenity and cheerful, relaxed holier-than-thou self aside, I'm not any less busy. In fact, it's the opposite. My agency internship is kickin' into full-swing and that's gonna be a whole thing. I had my first day last week. It was fine. Very basic work answering phones, doing some data entry, and making small talk with the friendly front desk intern. The coming months, however, promise a heavier workload. While I can handle a heavy workload, I'm a little nervous... because I'll let you in on a little secret, gang:


And I'm desperately trying to get myself up to speed fast enough to where my supervisors will forget that. Remember the first time you ever ate spaghetti as a kid? I don't either, but I'm sure your parents have photos. It feels a lot like that-- messy, confusing, complicated, saucy, and hey! Pretty enjoyable once you discover what you get out of it.

Disclaimer: This is not me as a baby.
Speaking of which, some of you may be wondering why I'm diggin' on this unpaid internship so hard. After all, I'm an artsy tartsy writer. Why do I want to be at a talent agency?

Why I Want to Be at a Talent Agency

1. I get a firsthand look at what kinds of material do and don't get looked at. Remember, this is also a literary agency and I am working in the agency's comedy division. Chances are a lot of funny comedians and written material are going to pass my way. If I'm planning to shop my writing (industry slang for: ravenously send stuff out everywhere in the hopes of somebody important reading it) in the future, I want to know the best way to get it picked up (industry slang for: purchased, maybe and/or eventually, and actually made, maybe and/or eventually).

2. I can develop a relationship with the clients. In this case, a bunch of comedians. Buko networking. They have an agent so you already know they have some credibility, and they might have a good hook-up.

3. I can develop a relationship with the agents. They are the hook-up.

4. I can scope the competition. My experience thus far has been that, though it is quite established that this is a competitive industry, we are all angry little beta fish who often can't see past our glass into all the other bowls. So instead we fantasize that the others are either vastly superior (ref: inferiority complex), or vastly inferior (ref: presumptuous dickhead). Seeing what "all the others" are up to is a good way of knowing to either step up my game or to give myself some credit. It's also just very useful craft-wise to read others' material and absorb any useful formulas.

5. I still get my creative fix. This certainly isn't true of every agency, but because of the nature of the role I'm playing my creative input holds some value. This is an emerging division; right now it's no more than a feeble growth on the ably-tentacled body that is the entire agency. I get to be one of the players adding strength and vitality to that little growth. How's THAT for a metaphor?

6. I finally get to explore development. Comedy development, no less! Development is something I've become interested in since getting me some industry exposure out here. Development is the process of discovering new material-- so a lot of reading, summarizing, commenting, and best of all: criticizing. I'm great at criticizing.

7. Question mark question mark question mark??? If the past year has been any indication, there is NO telling what the future holds! I could really enjoy the work of an agent, or even one day become an agent, or discover a new career path, or get fired for exposing myself to a co-worker. The possibilities are endless!

Right now the best I can do is be effing jazzed. I don't know that I've mentioned this, but my first solid goal towards *achieving my dreams* out here was working at an agency-- preferably a literary one (check!). And now I'm here... unpaid part-time, but, y'know, still here. It's very surreal.

Specifically, this bowl of surreal:

And in case you're wondering, "Are you

 Yes, I'm 100%


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

If I Only Had a Brain, and Dental Benefits

Since life beyond school out here in Reality-Reality-Land, I have noticed that events tend to come in swells and lulls. First, absolutely nothing is happening and your life feels like the wheel during the beta phase of its invention.
Nailed it.
Then, next thing you know, you're getting swept up in a tornado of decisions and opportunities. Sometimes it's a good tornado, and sometimes it's a bad tornado.

Pictured above: bad tornado.

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Pictured above: good tornado.

Well, the tornado that has hit me recently has been a jumble-- one or two bad things but primarily good things. Like the tornado in Wizard of Oz... it would have been great except for the wicked witch all up in there with her bicycle. And, you know, the whole being inside a tornado thing.

But allow me to switch over from metaphor to narrative. With my job situation as fluid as it is, I have been enduring the diet version of a problem I believe every artist of any trade faces: stability or creative fulfillment?

In real life, the question doesn't arise so eloquently. It usually manifests as, "Do I take the dental hygienist gig or continue living in my parents' back house until my bottle cap art business takes off?" This past week I was forced to make a similar decision when I was called in for an interview for a receptionist job I had applied to, like, eons ago. Literally, eons. The last receptionist was a bracheosaurus.

And that bitch was stealing white out.

I felt obligated to at least go to the interview, even though the first thing my gut shouted at me was, "GET THE CHEESECAKE." And then the second thing it shouted was "NO MORE OF THAT STUFFY ADMINISTRATIVE NONSENSE. YOU HAVE A GOOD THING GOING. ALSO YOUR BOSS IS NICE."

My choices were very clearly laid out before me: do I drop everything and take a receptionist job at a production company, where I get a decent full-time salary, benefits, and occasional left-over craft services? Or do I continue my  present struggle of spinning multiple plates so that I can do production design on film sets, where I can eventually get stable enough work/money, and feel creatively fulfilled?

Maybe the answer is obvious to you. It wasn't to me. That is, until Sweet Baby Jesus Himself threw me a bunch of signs, the first being:

"There's no room for mobility in this position." That was the disclaimer on the receptionist job. So basically, the one thing that practical me could have used to appease artistic me was ruled out. From the outset they wanted to let me know I would not be the famous writer and/or production designer who started out as a receptionist at ______.

The next signs came in rapid succession: I received 3 inquiries regarding production design work at the same time. In case you're thinking this happens often-- it doesn't. Half the time I'm lucky if I get a rejection email.

So I decided to continue on my current wavelength.

Lesson? I like to make my blog readers think I'm very important By the powers of whatever force you choose to decorate your Christmas tree for, I was being shoved towards creativity. It was a big, fat, juicy sign that I shouldn't abandon my creative endeavors just because I'm paralyzingly afraid of instability. Mentally, creatively, I love the place where I am now. If I want to add "financially" to that list, I have to be willing to take and commit to the risk. And I know, at least for me, the risk for happiness far outweighs the certainty of misery.

Other lesson? Don't be afraid to make a fracking decision. The people who I confide my problems in can all tell you that I'm really good at gathering every possible scenario in my mind and swatting them around like it's intramural badminton. But when it comes to deciding on an actual course of action, I just nervously hop from foot to foot until every open door inevitably closes. Don't be the me. Make a decision about what you want to do. Weighing pros and cons is fine, but if you're trying to base your decision off assumptions of what the future holds, don't be such an arrogant little bitch. Don't be the me. Don't assume you know what lies ahead. You really don't. You can only tell which things give you fulfillment and which things give you stress-induced eating disorders. Be the me who confronts choice based on happiness. I like being her, even if she does hog all the blanket.

ON A FINAL NOTE, here's another thing in my tornado: an internship! I never thought I'd be so happy to work for free. I'm going to be with the comedy development division of a talent/literary agency. Unbelievable. That is ALL the things. I'll be learning all about what sort of comedy gets picked up, what sort gets canned, and I'll be exposed to the comedic writers and talent of film/TV/stand-up. As a bonus, the woman I'll be working under is not interested in using me to sync her bluetooth devices or "put the emails on the phone." She seems like she's actually interested in mentoring.

This is a MAJOR step in the right direction. First agency experience. Wow. See, one-year-ago me? We're doin' stuff. And you didn't believe me.

I have to get up at an actual specified time tomorrow so I'd better sign off, but I will leave you all with the cover letter that helped me get this internship.

To whom it concerns,
This internship sounds incredible so I'm trying to get your attention. Hello! I LOVE comedy and entertainment. Currently I am trying to break into development for comedy, so this internship would be a mind-blowing learning experience. 
"But wait," you might be thinking, "this girl is a complete space case. Just look at this cover letter."
But what if I told you I spent the past year working as an Executive Assistant to a senior exec at a production company which required extraordinary multi-tasking skills? Duties included (but were not limited to) heavy research, scheduling meetings, managing paperwork and contracts, cold calls, updating calendars, arranging flight travel and reservations, call-rolling, casting outreach, making payments, organizing/filing office files, ordering office supplies, and creating items such as brochures and executive summary pages. 
It's true.

I really hope to hear from you as I would love to come in to discuss the possibilities of this internship more. I have attached my resume. I am reachable by email, phone call, or text if you have any questions. Available to start immediately. Thank you so much for your consideration.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Unprepared for the Unprepared

Last we met I was bitterly mitching and boning about a project I had been signed on to, purchased several materials for, invested several hours of labor and emotional exhaustion into*, and then been kicked off due to budgetary restrictions. My concern was that I was going to be left standing in the middle of the street uncompensated for the time and money I had already spent, since the contractor agreement I had created had never been returned to me, and in a fit of poetic justice would be hit by a car so hard that my pants flew off.

I am happy to report that I still have my pants. After a couple polite buggy emails I got my reimbursement and a li'l sump'n sump'n for my troubles.


I was still pretty bummed that I had missed the opportunity for experience/money/networking, but what should the great glitter fairies of the universe decide to do and have somebody call me up to ask if I'm available to be the art director on another project being shot that very same weekend.

I hardly even had time to be sad before a new project was dumped onto my lap... wut wut!

The next day I was riding passenger-side of the production designer and wandering all over Los Angeles to gather props and materials. Talk about a stellar learning opportunity. The production designer was a friendly and frankly kick-ass individual who showed me new places to find props and costumes, introduced me to the best solutions for problems I've experienced as a PD, imparted tons of helpful advice, and even showed me the ropes with using Universal Prop House. I've used a couple prop houses before, but Uni is one of the biggest and most standard and I hadn't had a chance to visit it yet. Their selection was, unsurprisingly, glorious. It was also a giddy sort of feeling to pass all the furniture that was tagged for Revenge and Scandal and all those other shows that I don't watch but I know are a big deal. Be on the lookout for a cheetah-print framed mirror in the upcoming episodes of Glee, guys.

As for the project itself, it was very basic. It was essentially a series of short educational videos commissioned by a California teaching organization. Each video is about 3 minutes long and covers some topic like "diversity," "adaptability," "digital literacy." If you've ever worked for a grocery store you probably had to watch stuff like this during training.

So yes, we wound up cutting the buckets of blood and the scene where we find out the Boss A is secretly the gay lover of Gossiping Co-worker, but the videos are clean and concise. I was not getting paid much on this project by any stretch, but the sheer information and experience I gained made it beyond worth it. Not to mention everyone on set was very relaxed and friendly.

Of the crazier things I had to do during the shoot, we were supposed to pick up rental student desks for a scene that takes place in a classroom. The order went through way too late, however, so I was sent on a rogue mission to purchase cheap classroom desks. I was given the address of a Korean furniture warehouse that I drove past 3 times because the sign wasn't in english. When I finally got inside, I had to pick through piles of furniture to find the desk where somebody could help me. Now, by piles of furniture I don't mean there were neatly stacked pieces of furniture all around me. I mean it looked as though somebody had scooped up a bunch of couches, chairs, lamps, and headboards with a giant pitchfork and plopped them like mounds of cow shit throughout the 5 floors of this warehouse.

Perhaps they hired the poopsmith, or another esoteric early-2000s internet reference.
I got the desks and all was well, but for the rest of the chairs in that warehouse... I only wish I could have done more to save them.

A fun part about art department is that there's so much you often have to create on the fly. The director will often want or logistically need something on set that neither of you anticipated. Here's where the real creativity happens. Once again, the scope of creativity was somewhat confined by this projects' demands, but in a restaurant scene the director wanted the prideful chef to have a bit of stage business. So we created a "lava cake" for him to be decorating.

Delicious? Dubious. I stole a muffin from craft services, cut the top off, flipped that bad boy upside down, and drizzled it in chocolate syrup the PD had on-hand for (presumably?) blood effects. Or else any potential sundae-related emergencies. Now THAT'S prepared.

I don't have many photos of our sets, because for many of them you would be simply staring at a desk, but the fun "finale" of the shoot was designing 2 classrooms. Here's one:

Spoiler alert: it wasn't at night!
Can't you just imagine being a bored fourth grader in that room? I know. We're Just. That. Good.

As of yet I don't have photos of the second classroom, which was actually a lot cooler looking because it had a huge cut-out of a tree that we got to decorate, and we were able to paint the wall a peachy color so it wasn't this same bland shade of white. White = (both in production design and in US history) Death.

I love production design like crazy and I am so happy that I get to do this sort of thing for work. I don't know how I've been so lucky. That's one show wrapped. On to the next serendipitous gig.


*Emotional exhaustion: Attempting to strap 4'x8' sheets of foam onto the roof of your car, only to have them fly off the hood five minutes after you've gotten on the road because they were too lightweight and the wind jostled them loose, and then having to run into the middle of busy traffic as your sheets are repeatedly run over by cars so that you can save them, and then waiting outside a liquor store for thirty minutes for your friend with a large truck to come rescue you from the homeless guy who was being helpful initially but is now hitting on you and offering you weed and won't stop asking you if you would like a massage because he got his AA in massage therapy. Ladies and gentlemen, my life.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Four Emails and a Funeral

Skipped a week of blogging for no reason beyond sheer laziness. What's up with that?

I've been quite the harried hornet recently with a production design position that slowly, painfully became mine and then quickly vanished like pollen on the breeze. At least I learned something.

The Story of How Jessica Learned Something

I applied to a small production design gig for a thesis film. The following proceeded to take place over a 3-4 day period: director emails me back and asks for a mock-up of sorts. I design a mock-up of sorts. Director asks me a logistical question. I answer logistical question. Director asks me another question. I think in my head, "These are a lot of questions to be asking someone whom you haven't hired. Am I hired? Am I giving away secrets freely? What would I do for a Klondike bar? What has a Klondike bar ever done for me?"

Answer: nothing.
I ask him if he would like to meet in person. So we do. He tells me what he wants. I tell him what I can do. Student film budget wants nothing crazy, with the exception of a painted portrait of the actress, a casket, a fake axe to break said casket, and ideally wall-to-wall wallpaper. Oh and PS jellybean, we're shooting in a week.

People. Be kind to your production designers. We can only make your movie look good if you let us make your movie look good. In this scenario, I would have six days to build a casket, paint a portrait of somebody, and  address all the other set needs like gathering props and visiting prop houses. This is realistic, if you are a zombie and do not require sleep within a 72-hour period. But not even that is accurate, since everyone knows zombies are terrible carpenters.

I see a hand in the audience.


"Yeah, hi. I'm a visiting student from Washington. My question is, why don't you just rent a casket?"

An excellent question. You may sit down. Well, as much as I would love to rent a fancy casket, fancy casket rental would be approximately 75% of my allotted budget, and we would not be able to send any axes through that bad boy. So, here we are.

Another hand all the way in the back there.

"Hi, I'm Chad Wallace, reporting for Time Magazine. How exactly does one build a casket?"

You know what, Chad, I'll tell you. I don't fucking know. But after doing a little bit of digging around on the internet I found a simple way of making a realistic-looking casket out of foam. Lightweight, destroyable, and cheap-- perfect! Like a small, dirty prostitute that you feel like killing. 

And that's when things got shitty. I would send the director an email asking for very basic things, like-- can we set up a prop house account? Can you send me the contact info of the person you said could help me? Can you send me the photos you told me you would send like three days ago? What are your thoughts on Klondike bars?

Silence. Utter silence. I had a crap ton of work to do and I had been given zero resources to complete them. Mind you, I wasn't bombarding this guy. In a three-day period I sent 3 emails total. Compare this to my inbox last February when I was PD'ing for Scarlett and I came home to at least 4 unread emails and texts every day. When it's crunch time, it's crunch time.

Three days went by and I had not heard from him. I had already spent money on props and had begun the laborious task of building this casket. I began to panic. What if this guy is purposefully not talking to me? What if he's avoiding me? Who is going to reimburse me for all this shit? Was I even hired to begin with? Oh god, this is how it all ends.

After his lapse of silence I decided it would be wise to cover my bases [ass] pronto with an independent contractor agreement, which I do with all projects, and he never responded. Paranoia sunk in as I realized nothing in print held him accountable for all the work I had done so far.

It was in this torrent of frustration and anxiety that I learned a valuable lesson: don't do ANY work until that contract is in place. In the past when I've been hired on projects we have always verbally agreed that I would do X work, and one of us would eventually send the other a contract somewhere along the way. Never in my days did I worry about doing all the work and then fretting they would do takesies backsies half way through.

Which this guy did. He said he couldn't afford to have me on the project anymore, which I interpret as some excuse or another. However, he has asked how much he owes me, meaning he doesn't have plans to leave me high and dry.

Just to leave me.

So in the end, I will not technically have lost any money, but I will not have not gained money I thought I was going to earn. Oh yeah, and I spent like a solid three days of my life putting in hours that I most likely will not be compensated for. Heed my tale, friends. It seems obvious but it can get forgotten about easily. Contracts before work, not during or after.

Or you will end up with a weird space-looking 15% completed casket that you need to clear out of your boyfriend's back yard at some point.

RIP casket.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The 1 Year Anniversary Post

Update 8/3/14: Written yesterday, posted today! Don't worry, this post has been sitting safely beneath the heat lamp of the interwebs.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Part II: In Which I Meet the Person Whose Mail I've Been Getting for the Past Year

I return with many things that are exciting, and things that aren't exciting but the way I tell them is a grade-A hoot.

To start off, let's talk about something that happened outside my apartment last week. As you may or may not know, my apartment is actually a 104-year-old house that was divided into quadrant units. Two on top, two on bottom. Three bedrooms per quadrant.

aka some straight up Madeleine shit.
If there's one thing Angelenos are good at it's packing lots of people in very small spaces. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. This one, fortunately, works. In fact, I hardly see or hear from my neighbors at all. The only major sign of life is the occasional pairs of boxers hanging on the drying line out back. It is indeed a relief to know that my neighbors wear underwear.

Anyhow, due to the nature of our arrangement mail often gets delivered to the wrong place. Our units are distinguished from one another with the addition of a 1/4, 1/2, and 3/4 to the house number. I got the best unit insofar as I got the whole number, so I don't have to tack some janky fraction onto my address. It also makes me seem important and successful because on paper it creates the illusion that I live in an actual house. Which I do, technically. 1/12th of one.

The above information was hardly necessary, but it's the most math I've done in about 2 years so I'm not throwing that away. What I was getting at is that I often get mail for some fellow-- let's call him Edmund-- delivered to my apartment. Edmund lives in another unit. I leave the mail on the kitchen table, our landlady eventually scoops it up, and she passes it along to him. Now, in the 11 months or so months that I have lived in this apartment I have never once seen or had a conversation with Edmund. I long ago figured it was either a s7ven or a Gilbert Grape type situation.

Does anyone else ever think about what this casting call must have been like?
But lo and behold, one evening I was out on the front porch talking to my roommate and Edmund shows up to join the conversation! So now not only can I identify his face, I also know a bit about him. This is the exciting part-- he is also a comedy writer! Between him, myself, my cinematographer roommate, and the actress who lives to our right, our household is a hive of movie folks. Now all we need is a financier in the fourth quadrant!

"Jessica," you might be saying, "You silly, silly, bitch. This is true of virtually every other household and apartment complex in Los Angeles."

Well, I mean, yeah, but to go this long and not realize what resources have been at my disposal. Shit, what resources have been at all our disposals.

So many disposals!
These are opportunities for potential collaboration!

Unless they all suck. In which case, I will perpetually be "in meetings" until I move somewhere else.

So that long bit of nonsense isn't very exciting for anyone except me. Now for some more stereotypical excitement:

I went camping!







Bear? Where?!

In the Angeles National Forest, homez. It's a desert-y mountain region just past La Cañada in northeast LA. BTW, I'm just gonna throw it out there, La Cañada is an absurd name for a town unless we're talking about a Canadian "Little Mexico."

I went up there with one of my all time best friends and stayed at the Chilao Campgrounds. It was cool. The campsite is essentially on top of a mountain, so you can nab a site that overlooks a vast mountain range.
Damn it, Los Angeles, you really do have everything.

We spent our time hiking, playing Scrabble, drinking, and finagling this pretty epic little grill using nothing but our immediate resources:

Which were a rogue grill, some rocks, firewood, and the Lord's love.
It was a very peaceful intermission from the land of graffiti and and broken curbside furniture.

And finally, another recent experience was my first-ever wine tasting! My bomb (did I mention bomb?) writing group hosted it... which is to say the sole ringleader of the entire writing group organized it, and with much success. I dragged boyfran along with me and we were given a series of 8 wines to try along with our gourmet dinner. I ate handmade tortellini and may or may not have momentarily gone blind from how delicious it was.

That's an exaggeration. But it was damn good tortellini, and I got to spend a lovely evening learning things about wine that I have already forgotten. Boyfran even won a sandwich in a raffle, so, there's also that.

What I'd really like to do is end this blog on a downer, so tell me how you like these vag-sucking apples: I have gotten two parking tickets in the past two days. YEAH it's, like, super great. Aside from the double-helping of powerlessness and inconsolable private shame, I have to pay off TWO of these fuckers! Let's do a little more math tonight... $73 + $68 = I AM NOT CURRENTLY OF GAINFUL EMPLOYMENT. There go the next 3 weeks' groceries.

On a completely irrelevant note, if anyone can advise on how best to avoid paying a parking ticket partly or in full, I have a comments section and a broken heart.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Part I: In Which I Tell You About All the Places I've Been Farting Around To

And to think, one Tuesday ago I thought to myself, "Well. That's it. That's the last blog that I am capable of writing. I have been wrung completely dry of all recountable experiences and insights. Better go take my laptop out back and shoot it."

Fortunately this has not been the case. For starters, my landlady will not let me borrow her shotgun. Additionally, the past week has proven to be a whirlwind of new discoveries, explorations, and happenstances, to such an extent that I can't summarize everything within a single cohesive blog. Unless...


If Severus Snape were saying "Unless..." this is how he would look.
I go for a two-part blog.

I think we're ready. Do you? Well, now isn't really the time to be having doubts about our relationship.

So for part I let's just go over the places I went. 'Cuz there are a lot of them.

Places I Went
1. Good Luck Bar. Been here before. Pretty sure I've talked about it before. Magical Silverlake bar with a low ceiling and hyper-stimulating clash of patterns everywhere. Boyfran hadn't been there before so I forced him to consume fruity drinks served in funny shaped ceramic cups with me.

Acid tabs available at the door.
2. Jay's Bar. Stop number two on boyfran and I's Silverlake crawl night. This bar is humbly tucked away in an otherwise unassuming/unappealing little strip mall. But if ye dare enter said strip mall, which is an iffy feat if you're trying to "have a Silverlake kinda night," you will be pleasantly surprised to find a trendy little bar with great atmosphere, prices, and beer selection. Looked like people were also eating bomb food.

"...For who could ever love a beast?"
Forgive me, strip mall! I should have seen your inner beauty all along!
 3. The Black Cat. Swankier bar and restaurant. I was too drunk and tired to really appreciate the place. I did, however, appreciate their cat-decked doilies enough to throw one into my purse.

4. Angel City Brewery. AKA the coolest thing you didn't realize is happening in the arts district. Or maybe you did and you were a dick and didn't tell me. This is one of those "warehouse" bars a la Villains Tavern which I have posted about in the past because it's also the tits. The difference? ACB brews nearly all of its stuff, and has fun games and artwork interspersed everywhere. I cornholed. Yes. Digest that sentence.

From warehouse to funhouse.

OH YEAH AND DID I MENTION THE EPIC INDOOR SLIDE that they don't let you climb on.

Just a couple of friends cornholin' it.
 5. Bar 82. You've heard about it. You didn't know this is what it was called. You thought it was located in Koreatown but that's a different one. This is the recently opened ARCADE BAR. It's exactly what it sounds like, and to answer your question, yes, they do have the Simpsons game. The line is pretty long to get inside, unless you are a sneaky mofo like us and get there before the rush.

Is that building stoned?
6. Handsome Coffee Roasters. My friend asked to meet here today. As with most places in the arts district, I drove around sketched the fuck out for like 5 minutes, nervously parked, and entered an otherwise inconspicuous building to discover that things are thriving in there like bioluminescent fungus. For the textbook coffee snob, this place is textbook coffee snob. It's in the arts district. We all knew what we were getting ourselves into.

Portlandia doesn't even need to parody this.

7. High Rooftop Lounge. Most excitingly, my aunt is visiting from Hawaii... affording me the priceless opportunity to go out and try new places. The two of us met up with her friend and friend's-friends for drinks atop this lovely roof in Venice. From there we sojourned on to #8 for dinner...

CAUTION: Prolonged exposure to rooftop lounges may result in "Yurtle the Turtle" complex.
8. Mao's kitchen. Um. I am changed. AMAZING Chinese food, great veggie options, super affordable, and smack dab in the coolest part of town (besides the drum circle). Just in case you need another reason to envy the citizens of Venice Beach.

I Mao Mao here and I Mao Mao there
Looking to post a part two in the near future. Stay tuned for more information about the trivial details of my very existence!