documentary
  • New York 2012

    In 2012, I was making a living full-time as a filmmaker and photographer.

    I was living in San Francisco and freelancing for a bunch of clients, but Levi's® was regularly hiring me.  I'd been broke my whole life and suddenly I was making more money than I ever thought I'd make.

    I was constantly scared, because I'd managed to scrape my way, after years of trying, out of the minimum wage and service industry worlds, and I never wanted to go back.

    But I also felt like it was sure to go away at any moment, so I gladly became an insatiable workaholic.

    I'd regularly pull marathons where I'd be working around the clock with no days off for up to a month.  That's because I wanted to do all the gigs and all the jobs on all the gigs.

    Every time I worked with anybody else, they'd screw up their job over and over until I'd just take over for them and do it myself.  I'd pitch, plan, schedule, direct, shoot, run live audio, edit, sound design, take photos, etc.

    Generally, when I'd have a day off, I'd get right back into looking for more work.

    But, for once, I decided that, after a typical marathon gig, this time I'd go on vacation.

    I could have gone anywhere in the world.  I'd never had enough money to be able to do that before (and may never again.)

    I chose New York.

    I wanted to take some video while I was there so I could look back on it, in case, at some point, I lost my career, became broke again, and could never go back.

    I wasn't even convinced that I should upgrade to a Canon 5d because I never believed my freelance career would last until the next month for years.  So I brought my t3i, which I'd been using to make the videos that paid for that trip (It's the Indian, not the arrow).

    I'd never been to New York.  Ever since 1991, there were two things that I knew: that I wanted to be a filmmaker and I wanted to live in New York.  I didn't know why, but I felt it was true.

    When I arrived, I immediately felt at ease.  It felt like home.  The noise, the traffic, the energy, the smell.  It warmed my soul.

    It's been six years.  I became a filmmaker and did that job for a living for a long time.

    The time spent that you see in this video is the closest I've come to living in New York.

  • Silverlake Reservoir

    Late last year, I had to pick up a second job.

    I moved from San Francisco, where my freelancing business was booming for years, to LA, where it stopped dead in the waters of Silverlake.

    I arrived bright eyed and bushy tailed in Hollywood in 2015. The prodigal son, who left home penniless, without any direction, and returned, by most accounts, with a pretty impressive self-made business under his belt. Some of the biggest possible clients from around the world. Some high-profile projects. Even LinkedIn references, if you were asking for primary sources.

    In 2015, the Silverlake Reservoir had evaporated, and the ensuing barren landscape mirrored my newfound career drought I’d unknowingly walked into.

    I pursued my connections from San Francisco and New York, but they only lasted me a handful of months.

    I tried establishing new ones in Hollywood but I ran into that famous nepotism wall. The one the white walkers always seem to have such a hard time with.

    I tried DTLA but I was too New York for fake-New-York.

    I tried Santa Monica but I was too skeptical of the brash start-ups I figured would collapse before sending me my check.

    I even tried connections in Silverlake but it was all dried up.

    The wall is protecting the privileged of Hollywood from Wildlings: self-made freelancers who are wary of the unions (full disclosure: I’m a member of SAG) and interested in thinking outside the box (or north of the wall, if you will.)

    The wall is real. I left Los Angeles the first time because of it. And when I returned with more optimism than an MMA fighter with a burgeoning (but tenuous) potential movie career, I ran head first into it again like I’d never left.

    In San Francisco, everything clicked into place.

    But I found myself back in Hollywood.

    In the middle of a draught.

    So, after burning myself out taking freelancing jobs I was way overqualified for while being paid what amounted to less than minimum wage by the hour, six to seven days a week, for months at a time (not to mention, being treated like absolute garbage by that other famous Hollywood cliche: unhinged narcissists), I made a decision I never thought I’d make again: I took a customer service job.

    I picked my favorite coffee shop. One that, in an intentionally maudlin gesture, reminded me of San Francisco, and started working, giving up any ideas of continuing my freelancing career.

    A few weeks ago, I resigned at my toxic customer service job.

    I didn’t know what I was going to do. But I knew that anything was better than staying at that job. Even being homeless. I’ve been homeless before. It was in the Bay Area. It happened only a couple years before I started freelancing full time.

    Then, out of nowhere, a friend connected me with someone who offered me a job.

    I was to start the day before my last day at the coffee shop.

    I’m working on a project, without giving away too much, that’s connected to my favorite director, the one who inspired me in 1990 to pursue the art life.

    In 2015 Silverlake was completely barren.

    Now, from Los Feliz, I can see a shimmering surface.