I am setting out to create the first of three personal, introspective and candid films about drifters. By personal, I mean I’m creating a story centered around characters based on a lot of people I’ve come in contact with in the two major metropolitan cities I’ve lived in. These characters are simultaneously highly attuned to their dilemmas but not adept in managing their circumstances.
ABOUT STRANGERS is a story of three drifters (Guy, Lexy and Lulu), who, while well into adulthood, have lost direction and are caught in a downward spiral fueled by regret, fallen dreams, estranged families and several bottles of liquor. They randomly meet one night on the Sunset Strip, and over s’mores, decide to journey out of the city and into the mountains to find a time machine from Guy’s past.
The term “drifter” has always facinated me, particularly in the context of the city of Los Angeles, and in how people relate to one another as drifters. Drifter, as defined in the dictionary, is a person who is continually moving from place to place, without any fixed home or job. Synonyms include wanderer, traveler, transient, roamer, itinerant, tramp, vagabond, vagrant, hobo and my personal favorite, bum.
In mass and media culture, drifters are either glorified/villified or portrayed as mysterious/ominous in some way. There is usually a manic or romanticized element to their personalities and lifestyle. These are base, archetypal and one-dimensional representations of what it means to be a drifter. In reality, anyone can find themselves drifting. Moving slowly from one place to another, like wood in the water. The state of being or even feeling lost, is simply a state of vulnerability and it is very universal. It takes courage to open oneself up to exploring other possibilities of what life has to offer, and surrender to allow oneself to be carried by the current.
While drifting is a seemingly passive activity, one in which the drifter is perceived as being lazy, unmotivated or unfocused, most drifters are actually actively in pursuit of something outside themsleves. Sometimes, their dreams are beyond the scope of what they can attain or achieve from where they are. Sometimes, they need to escape to discover who they are. Sometimes, they are running away from something or someone. Los Angeles is the premiere magnet for all of these people.
I’ve been a drifter. I’ve been lost. I’ve wanted to better understand who I am and what makes me tick. I’ve abondoned places and people I felt were toxic to me. I have been this person who moved to Los Angeles in pursuit of something bigger and better than the world I knew. I’ve been fearless. I’ve been in a cocoon. The highs and lows have been immeasurable. I also know I am not alone in this experience.
Part of what inspired me to make this film in this way, are the works of art coming out of the independent film scene over the past ten years or so. Joe Swanberg, Alex Ross Perry, Kentucker Audley and Nathan Silver (to name a few), are all making films unconventionally and without comprimise, despite the limitations of very low budgets. They are telling stories about what they know. These are not superhero stories or zombie films (which are fun to make too), but films saying something about who they are in the time that they are living in.
ABOUT STRANGERS is a film based on moments of my time here in Los Angeles, including snippets of people I have encountered, and places I have wandered through.
This is the first part of a trilogy. I want to develop a process, a template, really, for making each of these films, and it starts with a simple outline and three characters. Instead of a traditionally written script, I am using a dense, fully fleshed outline along with detailed character sketches. We will shoot this narrative in the style of a documentary, or cinema verite, with the overall goal to capture a naturalistic and raw story. The entire filmmaking team is going to consist of just eight during the shooting; five crew members (including myself) and three actors. Simple, small and impactful.
The only bell and whistle throughout the whole film will be captured by Ethan Kogan, (Guy), who came up with the idea for his character to have a daily journal on an old camera, a LomoKino, which shoots 35mm motion picture film. We are going to be able to mix digital footage with classic film! (There is a small sample of what the LomoKino footage looks like in the teaser.)
My first feature film (WAY DOWN IN CHINATOWN) was a German Expressionist inspired, surreal, horror-comedy, made by the seat of my pants. In a lot of ways I didn’t understand what I wanted until I started shooting. Once I knew what the film was, it made it that much easier to match the vision. This was an incredible learning experience.
Since then, I’ve produced several films, have directed a few shorts and series, and have worked as an editor and an AD. All of these experiences have laid out the track for me to embark on this project with full knowledge of what it will take to manage and round out the film.
The first feature was stylistic and bombastic and an expression of freedom. This series of films will be nothing of the sort. I think I’ve always avoided making this kind of film (ABOUT STRANGERS) because it struck so close to home, but whenever I stare down my fears, I always find the best results. (If you would like to read more about my fears, check out my blog about it.)
Making a film is all about money that you don’t have. ABOUT STRANGERS, and the entirety of the road series, was concieved with the idea of making something on a doable budget, focused on art rather than worrying about returns and names and everything else that can go into a bigger budgeted production.
Nothing is too small. By giving the smallest amount you are helping to join the supportive team giving us a shot to qualify for the Seed&Spark distribution program, which requires 500 followers. Everything is going to help and everything is going to build the series from the ground up. I am really looking forward to sharing my vision and showing you a glimse into the lives of these strangers.
Thank you so much for reading all of this! Let’s make this happen!