Eight years ago I packed up my New York City apartment, booked a U-Haul storage unit in Spokane Washington, and drove west towards Calgary Canada for a 3 month residency for a feature horror film I was going to Assistant Direct. About 3 hours out of NYC I got a call from the Canadian film commission informing me that they had reviewed the film’s budget and required that a certain percentage of the crew be Canadian. I said I understood and asked how I could help. They informed me that they felt it was best if the Assistant Director be Canadian. The conversation didn’t go well (as you can imagine) since I no longer had an apartment, was already en route, and now had nowhere to go. My fiancee (now wife) Kate had moved to San Francisco for graduate school and I was supposed to move to LA…but not for another 3 months! The rest is a story for another time but the short version goes like this: I stopped off in Iowa to see family, made over 300 phone calls, found a place to crash in LA, and moved to Hollywood.
I arrived late on a Friday in my Subaru with the U-haul trailer in tow. My friend Sean had invited me to a party…turns out it was a Playboy party. So there I was at a Playboy party in my driving jeans and a stinky tee shirt talking to Bunnies. “What do you do?” they would ask. “I’m a director and producer,” I would respond,” which is the response of about 99% of Hollywood’s population…that or “writer.” Then they would ask, “How long have you lived here?” to which I would respond, “Oh…about an hour.” This night became my calling card and everywhere I went for the next year people would introduce me by saying, “You know that story about the guy who went to the Playboy party with a U-Haul trailer? …THIS IS THE GUY.”
I was the infamous “U-Haul Trailer Playboy Guy.”
I slept under my buddy Sean’s pool table during the worst cold spell that had hit LA in over a decade. He got me a gig AD’ing a few music videos while I continued to work with my director and crew in Canada over the phone. Eventually I found a few sublets and then an apartment of my own living in Tony Scott’s rental house in Larchmont across the street from Paramount Pictures. During my sofa-surfing I met some amazing people who became friends for life…two of them are Rachel Samuels and Ethan Gold. Ethan is a singer-songwriter who had teamed up with Director Rachel Samuels to do a music video from his album…but they needed a producer. I got hooked up with them by the friend of my director’s producer’s roomate’s friend. Boom…that’s LA. The pre-production was intense, the production was an all-night shoot in Los Feliz, and the crew was amazing! Filming is always better when you have fun and we had a blast. No drama.
A few months later I was working post production on the film from Canada when Rachel called and asked about a second shoot. The prep was a piece of cake, we used the same crew, we shot on the set of the TV show “Scrubs” while they were off for the week, and post production began. By the time we had transferred film to digital and were cutting I had moved to San Francisco to be closer to Kate. I had been commuting to NYC and back every few weeks producing commercials and LA had become a crash pad. I setup Rachel’s computer so I could view it remotely when she needed help or she could email me the EDL and I could work on it from my editing suite at my office. There were so many gorgeous shots that had birthed from Rachel’s head that it was hard to land on an edit. Once it was completed it sat on a shelf as Ethan and his brother Ari cranked out more videos for the album “Songs From A Toxic Apartment.”
8 years from that infamous Playboy party, 3 cities, and 2 kids later…the full album and videos have been officially released and “Royal Flush” premiered this month. Seeing it again brings back more memories than I can type in this post…and some that are best told over drinks in loud bars with close friends. It was the best of times…it was the best of times. To say I am honored to have worked with Ethan, Rachel, and the amazing cast and crew of that shoot would be an understatement. They affected the path and trajectory of my life forever (in a good way) and are forever part of a time when I discovered who I was. The music video is gorgeous and I give full credit to Rachel and the crew for her vision, their dedication to the craft, and perseverance to make something that expressed the emotion of the song. For me it is a happy reminder of why I still pick up a camera a few times a year to create something that isn’t intended for commercial use. It reminds me that art comes from within and in a time where I was the super commercial dude…I got to be a part of this work of art. So, without further ado…I give you something beautiful, something fun, and something collaborative. Here is “Royal Flush.”
To read about the premiere of Royal Flush and Songs From A Toxic Apartment, check out the article and review from Impose.TV which calls it “An exclusive, intimate, and rare moving portrait.”
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