It all began when I was stranded at Bob Hope Airport on a Tuesday night. My apartment situation fell thru while I was flying over and I didn’t even have a ride out of the terminal. As I wheeled two large suitcases toward the nearest bus stop, waiting to head down into Los Angeles for the first time in my life, those rose-colored glasses were starting to fade.
I wore my best suit for the flight across… you know, just in case Steven Spielberg was flying coach, too. This was in March ’12, so the northeast left me looking pale, borderline translucent. As I stood there, lost and alone, clearly from way out of town, with the proverbial dollar and a dream (plus my half finished movie), I held my chin high and figured it could only be up from there. Then I got on the bus and the first person to sit down next to me was a sunburnt, deranged homeless man, without hands, carrying around pieces of a broken television set. Welcome to Hollywood.
I was kind of right about the upward swing, though, as the next morning I got to take a private stroll through the Universal Studios back lot. I was a member of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity during college, so it seemed appropriate to make some local industry connections from our national network before the big move. One of our chapter’s alumni, who’d pledged in the late 80’s, also happened to live here and work in some form of home entertainment. That was all I really knew about him, until arriving, after which I was invited to “come have lunch”. Expecting In & Out or Panda Express, it was inspiring to soon find myself walking through the center of Hill Valley’s Town Square from my all-time favorite Back to the Future film trilogy.
You might be thinking my calendar is a bit off here, as it’s now August, making this almost two and a half years. Well, yes and no… as I only visited LA for six weeks before flying back to NY for a few months to finally assemble The Essentials, screen it throughout Central NY, then finish any remaining fixes before definitively hitting export and making the cross-continental jump. My feet never got too particularly cold about the decision to move, mostly because I didn’t have time to think that much about it; I had my one-way flight to LA booked for July 2nd, but our final cut of the film wasn’t done until the night before. So at that point I had to leave Rochester, where I’d basically spent the last year living and working (following my year at Syracuse and prior four years at RIT), giving me about twelve hours to pack up whatever I needed before catching my 11am flight the very next morning.
Thankfully, I had a ride back from the airport this time, although I was still couch-surfing, with nowhere to specifically go. Three days later, another local RIT ’10 alum put me in touch with some producers at Colony Bay Entertainment, who hired me onto the crew of their independent mini-series Courage, New Hampshire, which has since gone on to be broadcast nationally, running frequently on PBS and a few other networks. Production was based on a colonial re-enactment farm almost one-hundred miles east of LA, so I actually spent my first three weeks of California residency in a hotel much farther away than where I’d ever expected.
One of the ways I ensured myself to permanently move west after finishing The Essentials was by investing in a bicycle during my six-week visit… one of Craiglist’s finest; a $90 Raleigh that I bought out of a backyard from a collection among literally hundreds and hundreds of others, supposedly acquired in bulk from police auctions. After returning from Courage, it was time to hop up on that bike and find myself a job. The first place I checked was the beach… obviously… so I peddled straight for the Santa Monica Bike Center and caught the manager as he was heading out. Since it was the peak of summer tourist season, he needed some extra help. “Think you can work Monday thru Friday, nine to five?” Yes, Ron, I think I can.
Time started to move a bit faster following that, but I’ll never forget those first few weeks; hoofing it around the car capital of the world, asking just about everyone who made eye-contact with me for a job, or at least a lead to chase in the industry, as it seems just about every single person in this city has some amount of skin in the game. It’s never really paid off for me, but nevertheless continues to make for entertaining and occasionally insightful conversation. What’s ironic is that I’m writing this blogpost from a friend’s couch on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, New York City, as I’ve been back for the week to Produce & Direct a few spots for an upcoming men’s fashion accessory brand, Bedford and Broome, so you can expect to see regular updates on that over the next month.
As tourist season winded down and the bike job finished for the season, as did my internship in Beverly Hills, I was back on the hunt. Finally having an apartment was nice, after six months of couch rotation, as things seemed to be getting somewhat on track. I remember buying the majority of my furniture from some lady on Craigslist, who was in a hurry to leave the country because of her unborn baby’s father. I had no idea what that meant, so I just grabbed my new mahogany desk, threw it in my uncle’s mini-van, then hit the road. The next day, I called up an older hometown friend, who’s lived here out here for a while as well, explaining my new housing situation and looking for any suggestions. He immediately asked if I’d be interested in a new queen-size bed that had been sitting in storage for a while. Good thing I had that mini-van! Life seemed to go from homeless to home-office in a matter of hours.
Work and a my career began to stabilize in the year ahead, so it might not make for the most interesting article from here on out, but I may continue writing out this story, later on in the week(s) ahead. Last night I had a job interview in Manhattan, today I fly back to LA, tomorrow I have another interview in Hollywood. Coming off this commercial shoot, there may even be some more immediate fashion clients on the horizon… or potentially another music video… only time will tell. Here’s to two more years!