In 2014, I'd already made literally hundreds of videos for Levi's®.
Most of what I did, I didn't like. Almost none of it was my idea. Of course, to each their own. But, as a fan of my employer, I felt like I had something that just so happened to by my idea, and that also was good for their brand, and that I could execute with greater authenticity than if it came from anyone's mind out of the corporate office.
I became friends with a guy named Ryan, the master tailor appointed by corporate for the brand globally. He lived in New York for a while, but when he came back to SF, I talked him into getting a motorcycle.
I wanted more friends to ride with.
He bought a Harley and became obsessed.
He started tinkering with parts and customization.
My other friend, Laif, had already been doing that, when he wasn't going on auditions or riding with me.
There was a local hangout we used like a coffeeshop. We would all go there almost every day just to hang out. Sometimes, we'd decide to go for a ride from there.
It was a community motorcycle garage called Piston & Chain.
I had this idea suddenly that I could help Levi's® talk to its audience through films and photos, Laif, Ryan, motorcycles, and Piston & Chain.
Levi's® was always talking in the office about "authenticity," the "workers," the "builders," the "individual," and "rugged" lifestyle.
Mind you, most of the people working in the office were the antithesis of all of these things. They were typically uptight, snobby, self-absorbed, prissy, fearful, insulated people who usually came from money and didn't even need their job to survive.
But I believed in the marketing. I was making videos for marketing purposes. I'm a method actor. I got into the mindset.
So I talked to tons of people at the company over a few weeks when I'd pop in for other, more soul-sucking meetings and gigs. There didn't seem to be much interest.
I figured it was dead on arrival. But I wanted to do my best, so I knew it wouldn't be my fault if it didn't go.
So, instead of continuing to talk, or simply dropping the idea altogether, I made this video on a day off.
It was a private link, and I emailed it to tons of people, including the President and the CEO of Levi's®, both of whom I'd never spoken to via email but who were cc'ed at various points on emails I was a part of.
I couldn't try to have my pitch heard any harder than that.
Nothing ever happened.
Besides the fact that I now have this video.
I still like it, even though it feels like a painful reminder of a time when my days, unbeknownst to me, were numbered working for Levi's®.
And, as a reminder of a certain wide-eyed optimism I had then, it makes my stomach turn a bit now in hindsight. (Not only did the video go nowhere and the gigs dry up, but my two friends in the video aren't really in my life anymore either, and I broke up with San Francisco. Long story.)
But none of that matters.
One of the things I love about filmmaking and taking photos is that the truth in films and photos is captured at a time and place, and exists forever in that form.
Even if things change, like they always do in life, there exists somewhere an infinite loop where a story plays over and over again. And nothing can change that. Not even reality.
In a film.
In this film.