I left for the West coast on my sister’s birthday, and she has never let me forget it. I headed west with a friend from college, also named Michele. She had a car, I had a hope chest (yes, I had one of those) and we both had the hope and naiveté that is youth’s privilege.
Actually that first adventure west was something I was not completely ready for. I just decided and left, without any real plan B, or plan A for that matter. Just start, get there, and I would figure out the rest once I got where I was going. It is not unlike my career as a filmmaker: No waiting for permission from someone or somewhere to do what I wanted creatively – an “industry sanctioned” permission that would never come. Just figure it out once I’m in it. Figure it out. Find a way. Because I have to. And pray that Fate truly does reward the risk-taker. Stupid or courageous – you decide. But I digress.
The cross country drive was not bad. Very pretty. And pretty boring at times. Our first stop was in Tennessee to see Michele’s family along the way. I think it was Tennessee… I do remember a farm. Lots of grass, and a cow… We spent an extra day in Oklahoma because of tornadoes. Before leaving Arizona on our last push to get to California State, we tried to visit the Grand Canyon. Yes I say tried because we couldn’t find it. The signs kept turning us around so we finally gave up.
Our first crash pad was Ontario. Our first apartment was the Extended Stays in Glendale. And we both signed up at Apple ONE where we were both given open-ended assignments. She was assigned to Disney, I was assigned to Entertainment Partners, and so we had income. And we gave ourselves a year to see if we could make something happen for ourselves.
Fast forward seven months and I landed a vault job at a small but busy post production house and Michele announces she can’t stand it in Los Angeles one more moment. We moved me from our two bedroom apartment to a bachelor in the same complex. I fund a used scooter in the Recyclers that I could just afford. And the first long weekend I had off work, we drive back across country – this time to Savannah Georgia where a mutual friend Jen would take over my BFF duties. Michele bought me a plane ticket back to LA and I’ve pretty much been flying solo ever since.
My ascend to editing stardom was slow at the post house – to be honest it was non-existent. It was my first taste of how cliche this industry was, although I didnt see it at the time. I was full of hope and hunger and enthusiasm, not really realizing when folks would use that against me. My first steps to becoming an editing happened at Todd AO studios when I was hired to work with the most difficult manager in the place. I quickly found a fierce advocate and a good friend in Ron. HE was fair and passionate but took no sh*t – an attitude that didn’t always go over well when you are surround by folks who are used to having their asses kissed at regular intervals during the course of the day.
Todd-AO was a sound house, so my first official West Coast foray into editing was sound editing. I hung out in the cutting room down the street and work with film for the first time: how many of you kids out there know what they’re doing on a bench? Ever heard the word sprockets? Ninety foot a minute? It was an awesome. I learned so much about the practical process of movie making. Principles that are simple lost on this new generation of digital editors.
I met Leo DiCaprio, and Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp. OOOHH Johnny Depp. That’s a great little story. My favorite celebrate sighting, second only to meeting Sir Anthony Hopkins and James Earl Jones! HE SHOOK THIS HAND YALL (pointing to my left hand)! My Mama would have been sooo jealous. Ron Howard came through (he was grumpy), as did Courtney B. Vance (very sweet) and Adam Sandler – he was very cool!!
For four years, I was a picture person trapped in a sound house. I was making enough money to now afford a car, but I felt at if I were languishing, running out of time. So when I call came offering me a job at a trailer house, I jumped at the chance – 6 bays of AVIDs would be all mine on the off hours and a promotion from management to create were the promises that lured e away from my comfortable nook at Todd -AO. The move to this trailer house – where they edit picture – would be the most traumatic experiences of my career, and the beginning of a new chapter for me in LA: Reality.