What It’s Like Making An Indie Feature

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.

www.moonmanormovie.com 

@moon_manor_movie

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Bleed Your Project / Achieve Bliss

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.

www.moonmanormovie.com 

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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?

Sacred Shit on Moonfaze Films!

 

So honored to announce SACRED SHIT, the new short film by me and @machetebangbang, is the May official selection of MOONFAZE FILMS. In the spirit of pure collaboration we created each scene in the moment, pulled by whatever she or I were inspired to express, free from the usual film grind of scheduling and logistics. Thrilled this experiment in art-for-art’s-sake is being recognized by such a prestigious journal. And this week is Beltane, the day to honor life and earth energies, so get thee to www.moonfazefilms.com to watch it and read our feature and check out the amazing things these women are doing. 

“SACRED SHIT” is a vulnerable raw look into attachment and the sometimes impossible art of letting go. A portrait of the mind and it’s many manipulations, Sacred Shit is a reminder to look inward and seek light in darkness. To ask ourselves what is it that we actually hold sacred? Celebrating the eternal bond between two women, this film also encapsulates our innate deep need for connection and friendship. Some sacred shit indeed. A must see.”  -MOONFAZE FEMINIST FILM JOURNAL

 

What am I “About”?

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I just re-wrote the “About” section of this website, and it was the trickiest damn thing to do. I procrastinated doing it for so long, because what am I “about?” I’m constantly asking that very question, and it’s only very recently (like this year) that I finally feel like I have a point of view.

The personal bio section of everything I’ve ever applied for has always stumped me. You’re supposed to list your achievements in this part, right? But is that a real reflection of what you’re about, what keeps you up at night, what keeps you going? In part, yes. Our achievements are a reflection of our life priorities. But if I really want to share what I’m “about,” it’s human connection, finding comedy in the darkness, Nature, being self-expressed, taming the voice in my head, experiencing new cultures, challenges, kisses, and cats. Not the jobs I’ve had or the awards I’ve won.

So rather than a typical bio, I interviewed myself instead. This seemed like an authentic way to lightly brag about my accomplishments, plus it’s so dumb when people write in the third person in a bio.

Me: You’re from Reno? That’s weird.  

Erin: I grew up in a town called Gardnerville nearby Tahoe, and went to college in Reno. I fucking love Reno so don’t say anything about it. 

Me: What’s LA been like for you?

Erin: Wonderful and terrible. For a while I had that job where I sat in a glass box in white underwear at the Standard Hotel. It’s like an LA rite of passage. I made my first vlog while I was in the box. Which got me fired, but they didn’t make me take down the episodes.  

Me: You just sat there? Sounds like a scam. 

Erin: I think it was “art.” The observer being the observed. 

Me: Sounds deep. 

Erin: I’m trying to frame it that way. 

Read the whole interview over in the “About” section. Obviously. And I’m curious your thoughts on this subject. How do you write your own bio? What are you “about?”

Still from “Omen 31” by The Loves

DEATH BY DISCO

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I’ve always been so entranced by the 70s disco scene. Studio 54 and all that. The glamour, the illusion that the party would last forever. When I was a kid living in Gardnerville — a sweet, dusty cow town in Nevada — there was nothing more exotic than the idea of being a disco queen. This is probably the product of seeing the trailer for Boogie Nights and the scene in Forrest Gump when Jenny is strung out in NYC, and being too young to understand these were characters sucked into a seedy underworld. I only saw the cool clothes. When I was 16, an “18 and over” club opened in Reno, called Rodeo Rock. A few girlfriends and I had one fake ID we’d pass back that made us 19. We’d say we were staying at each others’ houses, and really we’d sneak away to Reno, an hour away, the height of rebellion. I remember wearing a Spice Girls inspired halter top, white pants, and belly chain, dancing to the bump n grind of Nelly, and feeling completely, wildly happy in my second-rate version of Studio 54. I took this bts photos of Bianca a few years ago on a Machete shoot, and it always reminded me of that Rodeo Rock spirit. The fantasy version, in which we remain forever young.

A few months later …

So this is interesting. Fast forward a few months from my last post, and the script is not only written, but I shot the first 25 minutes and have a teaser, rough cut, a production company, fancy producers, and press. A thousand tales of challenges and overcoming obstacles to get here, but cool to know that in just a few months, you really can make your dreams a reality.

Here’s the article: http://theemeraldmagazine.com/2017/01/pot-fiction

And here’s our poster:

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Have attention with no intention.

Spent tonight absorbing spoken word poet Kate Tempest. She kills. Made me inspired to write a poem.

ATTENTION WITH NO INTENTION

In on a Friday night / Words consume me / I wanna fight / excuses are bruises in my sight / I have a light / I work so hard to cover up, fear of being bright.Smoke rings, fire sings / I now know love, I now know the right / It’s being with me, it’s being with he. Making art for the thrill of it, not for the sell of it / Cheap ideas, expensive faces / They bleed for ads, don’t know other places / But I know the right, I’ve lived the fight / I know the real, is staying in on a Friday night.

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Secrets from my high school diary.

I just got home from my writer’s group holiday party. Normally we bring pages from whatever we’re working on, but since this was a party and we intended to get drunk, we brought in pages from our old diaries to read. This was an excellent idea, if you ask me. Which you are, because you’re reading my blog. Half the fun was looking through my old journals, which was no small feat. I was a prolific diarist, especially the last few years of high school. One pink diary in particular chronicles many milestones, and things got real juicy around the time I started partying. A few excerpts for your entertainment:

“I hope I’m not in trouble, I came home last night with three Zima’s in my jacket pocket. I had so much freedom for once, me and Renee went to Reno to Kick’s and went dancing! It’s this new awesome 18 and older dance club, we passed back a fake ID to make us 18. We didn’t even have to be home until 12:30! Also I did well on my finals! I won the Key Club vice-presidency and I got new skis! Yet I’m getting in trouble a lot. Mom got a call from the same cop my sister got a call from when she was a junior, telling her I’ve been seen smoking pot! It’s just so weird. I’ve never heard of that happening, getting a call like that!”

It’s difficult to believe I fell for this, but my mom did in fact tell me a cop saw me smoking pot and called her as a warning. Pretty clever on my mom’s behalf, as it scared the daylights out of me. Could’ve been true I suppose, we lived in a really small town. But considering my sister had gotten the same “call” I think it was a set-up.

“I think I’ve lost myself a little. I don’t really have passions stirring inside. Friday night my dad took me and Beth to a Matchbox Twenty concert! Rob Thomas was so sexy in black leather pants! Then Beth stayed the night, we had an awesome talk. She informed me people think I’m a ditz. I figured out I’m selling myself short. It’s stopping. I might be forgetful, but I’m not exaggerating it anymore. We stayed up until 1:45am, which was stupid because we had PSAT’s at 8:00am! They were hard and intimidating! Oh and I went to haunted house with Charlie*. He has a fake ID so he bought us beer. We held hands! He was such a badass, smoking cigarettes. We were waiting for our friends and had the best talk. We talked about how I’m a virgin and he’s not, it was cool. He’s so deep. One thing led to another and we made out! He has his tongue pierced! It was so cool. He told me to come over today to watch Braveheart. But I got there and all his skater friends were there. Whatever. Maybe it was just a one time thing?”

Gawd. I could go on forever. Instead I’ll leave you with two poems from zee pink diary. My teenage self is mortified, but I’m going to share them anyway.

“Enemy” // I am my own worse enemy. I think too much, drink too much, wear my heart on my sleeve for all the world to see. // I’m a walking contradiction, or so I’ve been told. I don’t agree but if you persist I’m sold, sold, sold. // Shut up and be happy, you have no right to complain. But I do because I know who I want to be, but instead I quest for fame. // I’ll just keep on smiling instead, you would say this isn’t important, these are just the contents of my head. // You think you know me, pass me off as fake and dumb. Well, you don’t know me. I would think you’d understand we’re all just people, with different ideas of fun. // Just give me a break, and I’ll give you one too. Maybe things will work out. Maybe I’ll have the courage to be new.

“Summertime” // Whispers floating on the breeze, thoughts lost with such ease, a giggle, a smirk, the summertime dirt. // Take me there, to the months of carefree, take me there, where I can be me. // Not a show, or unending fights, just freedom, and those warm lazy nights. // Just the hot sun and days at the river, asking a boy you like to come hither. // When you fight over ice cream and whose lips are number, you go quiet a moment and realize it’s summer.

I love my writer’s group. I love the holidays. I love WriteGirl, which has been so inspirational lately. The girls write the most descriptive, powerful poems and stories. I feel connected to my younger self through them.

*Charlie is a fake name, used to protect the guilty.

Prose vs. Screenwriting; photos with @b4flight

Last night was the final night of my short story writing class. It was through UCLA Extension and thus on the UCLA campus, and all summer I greatly enjoyed traipsing about the brick buildings pretending I was still in college. There were some excellent writers in my class and the instructor Colette Sartor was phenomenal, she gave excellent feedback and is a lit star herself. Writing fiction prose again after the last few years of screenwriting was like taking a long bath after…hmm…shit I need help finishing the analogy. A post about writing and I can’t even write. Irony. An attempt to redeem myself with the first paragraph of a story I wrote for class:

My uncle Jack lived in a tiny stone house in the beach town of Trancoso, Brazil. The house sat between two extra tall palm trees, and on the afternoon the medics delivered me to his house, Jack was waiting outside, leaning against one of the trees, smoking a cigar, shirtless and as broad-shouldered as my father had been. He’d set up a corner of his house for me, with a reclining chair to accommodate my injuries. Jack helped me get comfortable, offered to make me an avocado milkshake then realized he was out of avocadoes, then sat down across from me and blew a few smoke rings into the air as he said: “I’m glad you’re here, Silver. It’s been too quiet since Matilda died. Look at you, Silver, a grown woman. Guess I wasn’t expecting that. She was my bird. Matilda, I mean.” My uncle Jack smiled at me then, tears shining in his honey brown eyes. It was the first time we’d ever met.

In the last week I also did a photo shoot with the radical b4flight in downtown LA. I love downtown. All the street art and little cafes, skid row and cool architecture. I greatly enjoyed traipsing about those brick buildings, pretending I was an urban hustler, or at least a famous Instagram model.

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Really though, prose and screenwriters, help me finish the analogy?

 

Beyonce is my friend…and other things on my mind.

Last night I was up til 5am on a spiritual journey, the details of which I cannot reveal. The lessons were large, the wisdom at times overwhelming. So to take a breath I’d like to share a few small things that have been on my mind:

  • I recently did an apartment redesign and put oil lamp sconces up on my living room to create a wall of light. I was imagining how cool and dramatic this would look, but now that they’re up, the shadows from the scones are the most interesting part about the design, dancing along the walls like dark birds…because sometimes in life the shadows are as beautiful as the light, ya dig?
  • I feel like if I met her, Beyonce would be my friend.
  • Last week I paid WordPress $3o for the No Ad Upgrade, so there won’t be advertisements on my blog. This is my forum for expression, and I’m not going to commodify it so someone else can make a few bucks.
  • Lately I’ve been putting into action several self-improvement desires I had at the new year. All’s going well, except I wonder what I will face when all my excuses are removed?
  • From one of my favorite books, A Survival Guide for Landlocked Mermaids: “Duality dwells at the heart of all truth, so dance with your inner paradox” … “Yearnings are the navigated states of the visionary and precede the sojourn to fulfillment” … “An open heart is seldom lonely”
  • This is my living room redesign, and the red heart hug pillow I got at IKEA. I like that the friendly squishy hug is the first thing I see when I come home. A few times when I’m lonely I’ve put the pillow arms around me and it was just as good as a human hug.

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ARTGASMS: A mysterious party & James Blake

Happy Monday, star seeds.

I had an inspiring weekend…spent Friday night watching an artist I admire paint a massive mural on a wall. We hung out til 3am in an empty parking light under a street light, goofing around, doing improv spoken word and trading ideas. You could hear the bass and trap from a busy stretch of bars just a few blocks away. I felt happy that I’ve finally figured out I’m more content being weird with the artists than I am getting drunk with the masses. Maturity: 1 point. Here are some Artgasms, to get your week started right.

The beginning of a short story I’m writing:

We held the event on Wednesdays. The day started around 2pm, when we’d wake up and not get out of bed. I’d reach for my velvet money clip into which was pinched three hand-rolled cigarettes. I’d look at Jett and say “The sun is up, buttercup.” We’d smoke and share a watermelon juice, then fuck til 4pm.

I’d get up and sweep our apartment, while Jett stayed in bed. He’d begin choosing who got the invite based on a system of social credit only he understood, then he started making calls. In between calls I could hear him scribbling in a notebook, and I knew he was revising the rules. 

I loved listening to Jett, the way he spoke, tough-guy twang coated with a cadence all his own. I didn’t always agree with the rules. I thought guests should be allowed to just observe the first time, but Jett was adamant everyone partake. “Go deep or go home,” he liked to say. I think that rule prevented some worthy people from getting involved. But I didn’t have much time to think about it. Our wait-list was already four weeks long, full of philosophers and candy kids, scientists and celebrities. Psychedelic warriors all of them, brave in their quest to lift the veil.

A music video I love … “Retrograde” by James Blake … the video is eerie and abstract, song is insanely beautiful:

 

Hope you have a good week, everyone! What’s inspiring you these days?

Beneath the yellow and sagging moon…

By the sea / beneath the yellow and sagging moon

I’ll be there in a dress too short / that you’ll remove too soon

You’ll wear your suit of brown / and your hair of gold

I’ll meet your eyes directly / if I can be so bold

You’ll approach slowly / I’ll sense your cologne

I’ll have a doubt / know I should be alone

But instead I’ll flutter and flounce / pretend to be a vixen

But you know and I know / that’s just a pleasant fiction

Maybe you’ll be different / won’t be cruel / won’t be coy

And we can find  love together

just a girl, and a boy

These are lines I wrote in 2009 in a red notebook, in the middle of the night. Tonight I found the red notebook, it had fallen behind a dusty trunk. I wrote the poem about someone I was falling in love with. I miss that person and know we’ll probably never talk again because I screwed it all up. Mystery, mystery, matters of the heart.

The first page of the novel I wrote in 30 days (sorta).

Over the last few years, I wrote my first novel. It’s about a 24 year-old girl named Holly Fricklesnap who lives with her wacky family on a Christmas tree farm. We meet Holly just as she’s been promoted to head fortune writer at the Good Luck fortune cookie factory, the same week she’s realized her best guy friend AJ will never love her back, and her family will drive her crazy if she lives with them any longer. Should she stay, should she go, or is it all just a Delusion of Glamour?

It was hot the night Moonflower won $14,987 playing blackjack at the Shooting Gun—the Night Everything Changed. I was with AJ in his basement apartment, painting my nails while he tripped on acid. I remember we had the rectangular windows propped open to cool down the stuffy basement. On summer nights the city is dry and smells of sagebrush. This sharp tang floated into the basement, mixing with my Fire Red polish, creating an earth/chemical smell that AJ declared was the scent that perfectly described the 21st century, if only we could find a way to bottle it.

If I knew, sprawled on AJ’s musty orange couch, that across town Moonflower had just become thousands of dollars richer, I might have been there when she arrived home, excitement coloring her cheeks. Excitement that belied the usual stoicism of her gray eyes—that damned pietà expression of hers. I might have been there to persuade her that the money mattered to other people, mattered to me. That I could use it for all sorts of things. But this is a fantasy, an ideal fiction. Because after twenty-four years with Moonflower, I know nothing can sway the conviction of my mother.

So instead, I spent the evening on that orange couch, smoking a joint while waiting for coats of polish to dry. AJ sat facing me, in a striped beach chair with holes in it. Sometimes he’d get up and pace the basement. He’d look through his records, or at a stack of old photos in a corner. There was one photo of us as ten year-olds, we’re down by the river and he’s holding out a frog and I’m shrieking and giggling at the same time. He shows me the photo and says, “This was a moment of truth, Holly. Before the falsehoods of our adult life.” Then he begins laughing, and he can’t stop. He laughs and laughs, because the LSD has silenced the part of his brain that tells him public displays of joy are embarrassing. And I start laughing too, because I’m pretty stoned, and because seeing other people happy makes me happy.

I wanted to post the first page in honor of NaNoWriMo, that crazy November challenge to write a novel in 30 days. Delusions of Glamour was born during NaNo, and I absolutely recommend the experience to all writers. If for nothing more, than to know you can in fact write 1,667 words a day, equaling 50,000 words in a month, equaling one whole novel. It makes you move past your excuses. Your bullshit. My mess of words and ideas after the 30 days (and a few months cleaning it up), got me a manager and an agent. And then the real work began.

I also wanted to post the first page because I’m currently not working on Delusions, even though it’s finished, even though it was good enough to get representation, because I’ve changed so much as a writer and a person that I worry it’s a pile of crap, how do authors stand by their work over the course of years?, and this summer had a vision I should burn it, but I also worked so hard and so long and still really love Holly and her unconventional life that I just can’t give up on it, and last year I left a copy in Bali on a shrine with flower petals in hopes it would infuse it with spirits or something, and in my heart of hearts I want to be a traditionally published novelist, but hey self-publishing is pretty damn cool and I’m all about art-to-audience with little or no interference, but mostly I just wanted to share the first page here. And endorse NaNo. Because I do believe humans can do anything. Even write a novel in 30 days.

Something sweet, and something sexy.

Here’s something sweet, and something sexy.

SWEET:

I love autumn, but who doesn’t? Over the weekend, I sat on a porch surrounded by trees that are changing colors.  Yellow leaves and shelled acorns covered the porch. I picked up some of the acorn shells and put them on my fingers. This make me feel childlike, which is always good.

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SEXY:

I made the front page of Arsenic Magazine! I’m the girl writing on the typewriter (what else?) in their video manifesto, shot by Bang Bang Productions. Arsenic is a dope alternative mag devoted to breaking the rules. And you know I love that.

“Use Arsenic as your avenue of expression. We have no ulterior motives, no copies to sell, no reason not to share the real hot shit we discover through you.  Arsenic strives to eliminate judgment, empower our readers, and spotlight individuals who are strong and crazy enough to follow their hearts and do it their way. Today is the day to stop eating the bullshit being forced on you, to lash out, and wake up to this new way of magazine.

 Arsenic Magazine, it’s your magazine. We just help you run it.”

– The Arsenic Manifesto –

http://www.arsenicthemagazine.com

What’s sweet and sexy in your life?

VIDEO: 2 girls + Viking Costumes = The first short film we ever made!

When I’m feeling down that my career (as a writer/actor/filmmaker) isn’t “there” yet, Beth (my bff and partner in all crimes) tells me that we’re still putting in our 10,000 hours. As a reminder of how far we’ve come, we recently watched the first short film/video thing we ever made: us impersonating vikings for a contest to win $1,000 and a week stay at a Nordic resort back home in Tahoe.

This was in 2009, when I still lived in a brick apartment in Reno and was a bartender and Beth lived in her parent’s guest cottage and was a go-go dancer. We were staying at Sorensen’s, Beth’s family’s magical resort in the mountains, we were tipsy, and we decided to film an entry. Our imaginations went wild with everything we could do with $1,000, and Granlibakken sounded exotic and mystical, even though it was only a half hour from home.

We wrote our video in 20 minutes and filmed it in 30. Halfway through, the camera died and we filmed the rest on a phone. Our “swords” were made of tin foil, our mustaches were made of paper and taped to our faces. I had been taking guitar lessons for three weeks so there’s a musical interlude. We don’t know our lines, we’re wearing the pajamas we woke up in, and I look like Willie Nelson. But it’s my favorite thing we’ve ever filmed, and perhaps the funniest. Our first venture as Just B.E. Productions (Just Beth and Erin), early starts, earnest hearts, I present, The Hodge Podge Vikings!

This post would not be complete without mentioning Mike Geraghty, who also entered the Granlibakken contest. Mike is a Reno friend and one of the funniest human beings alive, and the reason I didn’t post his video, Lognard of the Lake, first is because his is so fucking funny you’ll die before you can watch Hodge Podge. It should be mentioned he was actually a finalist in the contest (and is currently killing it in the Chicago comedy scene):

I think the fun we had making these videos is evident. We did it because we wanted to make people smile, and we wanted to perform, and in the end it only takes a camera and a little time. Which is the spirit in which all art should be made–straight from the heart in an inspired moment. May all our projects be Hodge Podge!

GO SEE: Surf photographer Chris Burkard’s show “Dispatches”

Over the weekend, I went to Gallery 169 in Santa Monica for the opening of Chris Burkard’s show “Dispatches.” Chris is a magician with a lens (he also happens to be my nephew). The show features some of his radical surf photography from around the world, places you don’t usually associate with surfing like Russia and Iceland. He’s a staff photographer for Surfer, shoots for Patagonia and Quicksilver, is a yogi, family man, and all around cool human. Oh, and he just published his THIRD photography book. You might say I’m really proud of him (and inspired by him, and he’s younger than me–sigh!).

Here are just a few of his incredible images, surf and otherwise, check the show at Gallery 169, it’s there til September 21st!

http://www.gallery169.com

 

VIDEO: Desert + Canon 5D + Five Friends = “Sleepwalking”

Happy Saturday! I’m super honored that the visionary director Machete Bang Bang is letting me world premiere her latest art video on my blog!

We filmed this in 2012, the day after I came home from Bali. Looking back, it was sorta my coming out as a performer. I felt self-assured and sexy after all that time in the jungle. Machete says I left for Bali as Kelly Clarkson (edgy but still family friendly), and came back Beyonce. After six weeks of spiritual awakening, I also just wanted to play in the dirt with my friends.  🙂

Says Machete:

A year and a half ago, my friends and I went to the desert to capture our version of art. Unfortunately, most of the footage was lost, but regardless, I wanted to make something out of what was salvaged. Almost every filmmaker in L.A. goes to the desert to makes an artsy fartsy video. This is ours. Weirdo Camp presents: “Sleep Walking.”

Starring: Randall Yarbrough, Erin Granat, Ben Caro, Sarah Sandin, Machete Bang Bang

Cinematography by John Weselcouch
Directed and edited by Machete Bang Bang
Original music by Modest Mouse