Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Trip 09 : Los Angeles area

So, after we got back from Detroit, I took another week to drive down to Los Angeles area. Spent time catching up with some old friends, some I hadn't seen in years, and toured a bit around the area. Stayed mostly in northern neighborhoods - Glendale, Hollywood, Studio City, and kept busy! Here's how I filled the week :

Monday, October 5 :
Our friend, artist Steven Johnson Leyba was staying at our place while we were on the trip. He stayed there Sunday also, and Monday morning I gave him a ride up to Sebastopol where he'd be staying with some other friends, and doing further editing on his documentary. Nice seeing that part of the Bay Area, Jol and Katherine have an awesome place up there, lots o land. Then I turned around and headed south.
Easy enough getting out of the Bay Area (had to stop at a Best Buy in Tracy to get a new hands-free, which didn't work; ended up getting a new one at the Apple Store in Glendale Galleria the next day). Drive down on the I-5 was dull as usual, but I listened to the first four Danzig albums in a row, only time I've ever done it (3 weeks before Chuck Biscuits ended up dying...). That took up the bulk of the driving time.
Got into town 6-ish, stopped at Glendale Galleria to make some calls (figured it was a central locale). Got ahold of Betsy Nofsinger (known her from my earliest days at Tippett, also a co-worker at Weta, and she helped me get my job at DWA/PDI), so I made my way over there to stay at her place that evening. She's also active with indie filmmaking - we watched a few of my shorts and hers, which she made in Kansas City. I missed getting in touch w/ Mark Fattibene, though he lives right next door.

Tuesday, October 6 :
Had a full day booked - but before lunch, took my car in for an oil change. Stopped at Jiffy Lube, but because it's a Hybrid, they had to use 'special' oil, and they said it was $80... So I took it to the Honda dealership right next door ($30). However, I had to return there after lunch (more in a minute). Also, had a phone conversation w/ Bonnie about upcoming work shake-ups.
After that, made my way to Warner Bros to catch lunch with classmate (and MSU Filmmakers crew) Bob Beresh. He's manager of post-production sound facilities, and also a filmmaker on his own. Got to walk around the backlot, see a few sets for shows (including the old town square from Gilmore Girls). Then got a look-see into some of the mixing rooms at his facility - awesome, I sometimes lament that I missed the road to audio production). And checked out the Warner Museum - a collection of props and costumes from a long line of movies (Matrix, 300, Watchmen), and one room dedicated to the Harry Potter franchise (no pictures allowed!).
Next, made my way to Melrose St to visit with another classmate (and MSU Filmmakers crew), Kurt Jones. He's been working mostly as an editor, but producing his own shorts. We stopped in at a comic book shop there, and had early sushi dinner. Also stopped in at a favorite LA location - Necromance, the awesome freak store - funerary items, bones, taxidermy, vintage macabreania.
Next, went out to Studio City, to meet up with Ed Irastorza and stay at his place. He was a VFX producer on the del Toro films I worked on at Tippett, and went on to work with del Toro on several other projects. I'd be staying at his place, but I also caught up with another friend and ex-coworker, Dave Van Dyke, we just went to an English Pub down the street. Came back, stayed up chatting with Ed, watched some TV ('Daily Show', 'Colbert Report'), and movies ("The Hangover").
Cat allergies were acting up - but I slept OK, and appreciated the hospitality!

Wednesday, October 7 :
Had the morning free before lunch, so I went to the Museum of Death in Hollywood. The website said they opened at 10, but they didn't really open til 11, so with an extra hour to kill, went to Amoeba Music. Back to the M.O.D. - hard to say it's fun, but very intriguing and well-thought out. Then, before lunch - went through the Hollywood Cemetery. Been there many times, but this was the first time since Fay Wray, and Johnny Ramone! Then met Kelly (Reasner) Buller for lunch - a former MSU TC classmate, we were actually co-workers of sorts for a while (I was at DreamWorks, she's at Paramount, but we were both on the same company registry). Had a delish lunch, Thai food at Chan Dara, then I walked around the Larchmont neighborhood, pretty nice area w/ interesting shops.
Went out to Exposition Park, to see the Spider Pavilion at the Natural History Museum.
No plans set after that - made my way to a music store listed in the "Best of LA" (very vintage, pretty small), then stayed at an internet cafe for a couple hours. Didn't hear back from other friends, so I stuck with the plan to make it out to Santa Monica, and made reservations at Hotel Carmel just around the corner from the bar. Party-like evening hanging with Lance Powell (whom I worked with at Weta, now at EA) at "The Yard", for their beer flight/tasting, and meeting all the folks he knew there.

Thursday, October 8 :
Left the hotel, went down to Venice, to have a coffee chat with Aruna Inversin (worked with him at Tippett, now a senior comper at DD). Also, ran into Joel Behrens on the way out.
Then it was Miracle Mile, went through the Petersen Auto Museum and one of my favorite places, the LaBrea Tar Pits.
Next up was Mike Kallio, in N Hollywood. Kallio is an indie filmmaker and freelance editor, perhaps the most accomplished director I personally know, having completed 2 features, and we share a lot of contacts from the Michigan film biz. Interesting story on how we met - I was President of the MSU FIlmmakers, and was contacted by Tom McPhee who ran a filmfestival that brought indie films to college campuses. Mike's feature "Hatred of a Minute" was their hot property, which was co-produced by Bruce Campbell. Well, Filmmakers did some legwork, MIke & Tom came to MSU for promo, and we screened the film at a lecture hall. Bruce himself arrived, took part in the Q&A afterward, and I got to be his ambassador for the evening. I could write up a whole journal entry from what I remember of that day, and dig up some pics, but I'll move on for now... Anyway, great seeing Kallio again, I hadn't visited with him in years, since a Fangoria convention in Burbank. We swapped some shorts viewing, and I had the privilege of getting a screening of his latest feature, "Mutant Swinger from Mars", which was awesomely hilarious! Then talked more about possible collaborations and encouragements for future projects, which I'm very excited about! Later in the evening, his wife Jessica came home, and we went out to Culver City, where we met up with Guerdon Trueblood (another one I've known since my earliest days in the biz) at the Culver Hotel, right next to Sony Imageworks, for a few drinks.

Friday, October 9 :
Before lunch, drove thru Griffith Park, stopped by the Observatory and took in the view. Then lunch with folks who are now at Sony - Russ Sueyoshi, Colin Campbell, Al Bailey. Kind of a mix-up schedule wise, I spent 15 minutes running back and forth between the restaurants and SPI, while they were waiting at the eatery, and playing phone tag, so I missed a big chunk of time with them... Afterward, hit another of my favorite LA spots, the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Culver City. Then over to Van Nuys, to meet up with Ken Burden (whom I know through friends from Tippett, but I never worked with him). He's a videographer/editor/producer by trade, but he's been doing a bunch of work as an extra. He's been on CSI and Monk a few times (we watched some of his clips). But, like many LA folks in production, it's been rough times recently, very unfortunate. Left Ken's place, checked into the Comfort Inn in H'wood where I'd be staying, then went over to Silver Lake to meet up with Robert Dorris (former Tippett associate, also a Michigan native!). We stopped at the Echo Curio art gallery (owned by a friend of Betsy's), grabbed a drink at a sports bar (which they say gets very busy on Dodgers game days), then went off to meet Briana Hamilton (I worked with her at Weta, both times - we actually started at Weta on the same day, and had the same flight over from LA to NZ). and Guerdon again. Funny surreal moment - as we were leaving, there was a line of vampire-types waiting to get in to the Goth Night, which apparently that sports bar becomes on weekends... So, we went out to 4100 Bar down the road, Bri and Guerdon showed up soon (missed meeting w/ David Rosenthal), and we grabbed some drinks, went to a latenight eatery around the corner afterwards.

Saturday morning was just getting up and heading out - making the drive back up north, on the 101 because I wanted to see Solvang (I'd never been there), and get an eyeful of the Great White Shark in captivity at Monterey Bay Aquarium. On the next installment!