I HAVE TO WRITE THIS IN ALL CAPS BECAUSE I STILL CAN’T BELIEVE BOTH OF THESE WRITING ASSIGNMENTS HAPPENED LAST YEAR AND I’VE NEVER BEEN ONE OF THOSE COOL GIRLS WHO ACTS LIKE IT’S NBD WHEN STUFF LIKE THIS HAPPENS ESPECIALLY BECAUSE WRITING WINS ARE FEW AND FAR BETWEEN SO OKAY HERE ARE LINKS TO TWO INCREDIBLE ADVENTURES I WENT ON AND WROTE ABOUT THAT GOT PUBLISHED!!!!
My dear blog, how I’ve missed you. A few things took over my life, including my first feature film, and Coldplay. More on that soon.
This blog has always been the place for me to pour my mind onto the (digital) page, and for those of you who’ve been reading and following since the beginning – I sincerely thank you. I’m sorry I’ve been so quiet. I’m not trying to break up, I swear.
If you’re new, check out my interview with myself. I still get a kick out of this one. Har. Har.
Here’s something I wrote last autumn I think bears repeating. What do you think about death? Is it something you fear, or embrace?
WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH DEATH?
Machete and I had the extraordinary honor last week to present at the Reimagine End of Life festival on behalf of our film Moon Manor – A Comedy About Death (Based On A True-ish Story). Our presentation was called Death Scenes: How Movies Reflect Our Final Act.
For many of us, our first experience of death is by way of film. We’ll have seen all kinds of death before seeing it in real life (if we ever do). How does this shape our expectations when the real thing happens, sans dramatic lighting, orchestral music and actors speaking lines?
We’ve felt the weight of this responsibility as we’ve shaped Moon Manor, as we’ve told the story of a life by telling the story of a death. To share space with the organizers and attendees of Reimagine was … I don’t even know the word … affirming? humbling? To be a grief walker is to shine a light into the well of our deepest fear. This current Halloween time of year is funny. The thing we least want to face is the very thing we shove into view. Skeletons and coffins decorate the grocery store, the dentist, the elementary school. Birth and death unite every human being, yet we spend our lives celebrating one end of the spectrum and mourning the other.
Not saying death doesn’t suck, I’ve witnessed it snatch away those I love so quickly I was left with nothing but whiplash and tears. But I do know the more I try to meditate on it, the more I memento mori, the more I accept my death, the more I appreciate my life.
Last week my dad and I celebrated his birthday by sitting on his couch and shouting at his Alexa. I’ve never played with an Alexa, I found it (her?) to be unnerving, and cool.
I wanted my dad to hear my new music obsession Tyler Childers. He thought he was okay, but nothing compared to what he’s been listening to – this album where Santana covers basically every epic rock song ever. My dad and I have always bonded over music. It’s like a language of subtext for all the things we can’t say.
I teased him that at least he’s out of his Pitbull phase, which is all he wanted to listen to after getting home from the hospital from his liver transplant. I’d wondered if the human the liver inhabited before my dad had been a Pitbull fanatic, like the man I met in Denver on a cannabis dispensary tour bus a few years before who was following Pitbull around the country with his wife. It had surprised me to learn there are Pitbull super fans, but not as much as I was surprised to have my rock-n-rolling, blues guitar playing father come back from the edge of liver failure death insisting that “Fireball” is one of the best songs ever made.
Dad, on the couch: “Are you kidding? Alexa, play Pitbull!” Within seconds, the rap / sing / shout of the little bald man with the fiery hips reverberates throughout the apartment. “I love Pitbull! I’ve got all his records! He’s Mr. Worldwide!” I groan and tell Alexa to play Santana again. But the truth is I don’t mind Pitbull. I just wanted to shout at the slave inside the tiny boom box with the sorta sexy name of Alexa. On comes Santana, shredding his guitar as Rob Thomas sings.
I remind my dad of the time he took me and Machete (when we were 15 and it was the night before our PSATs) to see Matchbox 20 in Reno, and he made us leave before their big hit (the one that goes “I want to push you around / well I will / well I will”).
“I made us leave?!” He asks, aghast. “Yeah, to beat traffic.” And to be honest we’re kinda stoned because it’s his birthday and his doctors have cleared him to do things like smoke a little weed and he’s no longer sick and we’re together and so we laugh and laugh and laugh, and Alexa doesn’t say a word.
New story out for FLAUNT Magazine, in print and online. Like, actually on newsstands HOW COOL IS THAT?! Glad to make lemonade out of a fat lemon time of my life with this story. Topics discussed: when your boyfriend’s in a wheelchair, Cuba’s social revolution, rum like honey, Diplo, a cool old Buick, sorta buying a hotel, how to decipher a scam from an opportunity. Read it here in print, or here on the Interweb.
My official Moon Manor writer/director portrait taken on set December 2018 by @thisheartofstone. Looks like a back-to-school picture, and that’s how it felt too. Excitement, exhaustion, glee. We’re deep in post production. Magick is brewing. http://www.moonmanormovie.com
New PRINT story!! There’s nothing quite like holding your words in physical form, especially when that form is pretty as @flauntmagazine. Other than #rossbutler being such a nice dude, the highlight here was getting a teensy bit of redemption for the car accident I got into driving to the interview. Full story on newsstands and online: http://www.flaunt.com/content/ross-butler.
Gig of a lifetime!!!! Thrilled and honored and stoked to say I’ll be joining the @sol.selectas journey to Morocco as the caravan storyteller!!! All those years writing about my travels on this blog are paying off, no one was reading it (except my sister, love you sister) but I was finding my voice and now that translates to work and pinch me how is this real life?!! There are a few tickets left if you want to comeeeeeee. 🐫 http://www.solsahara.com
We start working before dawn. First ones to set are 1st AD, 2nd AD, UPM, catering. Followed shortly by our make-up artist and camera crew. The actors drift in. We’re on our third, fourth cups of coffee by 10am. Collectively, we look out for Jimmy, our 80 year-old star, make sure he’s drinking enough water, not losing his cane or his dentures, keep his sides printed at the largest font possible so he can always be working on his lines. His memory plays hard to get, which is what this movie is all about. We flashback to moments in his life as a child, a teen, a young man. We throw his FUNeral. We film his death. We all break down in tears. We laugh when he nonsensically replaces lines like “Remember what happened on Fourth of July?” with “Remember what happened in San Diego?” Jimmy laughs hardest of all. He waits for a quiet moment in the chaos to loudly ask one of his co-stars “Have you ever worked on a farm? Cause you sure know how to milk it.” We all applaud his wit, his stamina, his courage. Our camera department heroically sets up lights in the rain. Day players cycle through, a breath of fresh air when we’re exhausted. We have three on set creatures for emotional support: a cat, a bird, and a chameleon. We’ve got one week to go telling this story of a life, by telling the story of a death. Harold and Maude, we hope we’re making you proud. We’ll let you know when we find out what happened in San Diego.
Is there a better feeling than being completely immersed in a creative project?
Giving every shred of yourself to the execution of an idea. Breathing life into a story, into a dream. I love how the day-to-day self doubt, over analysis, existential dread falls way. You simply don’t have time to indulge in it.
Currently completely married to the creation of my first feature film, Moon Manor, co-created with my best friend of forever Machete Bang Bang. We co-wrote, and are co-directing and co-producing. It’s a coming-of-death story. It’s about a FUN-eral and the moon. And one very special human named Jimmy.
And two years ago at the same exact same time of year I was leading a 23 person crew onto a friend’s secret mountain ganja farm to direct my first significant work of length, Forever Flowers. Watching the teaser now I can still smell the autumn chill, still feel the exhilaration of waking up at dawn to call the shots, to crystallize a story that had been calling to me for years.
What will the next two years bring?