With Armando Torres and Jane Petrov at PIFF

2020 Hindsight

Boy, none of us saw 2020 turning out like that, did we? Life sure can change fast. Maybe it's fitting that I didn't post an update here all that year. Not that there was much to update you on, film-wise.

My most recent short Words to Live by did manage to get a local screening at the Pasadena International Film Festival last March, just two days before Los Angeles County went into lockdown and moviegoing was no more. So I was lucky to have one final burst of festival fun, and was proud that star Armando Torres, producer Jane Petrov, and director of photography Andie Ximenes got to see our film on the big screen. But aside from a virtual screening at the Victoria Texas Independent Film Festival, that was it for Words to Live by. Even without a pandemic shutting down festivals, it wasn't going to play anywhere else. Too bad. I think it's a pretty good movie, but I suppose it wasn't [insert buzzworthy adjective here] enough to excite festival staff. Maybe someday people will appreciate it for what it is.

You won't be surprised to read that I have no new film projects on the horizon. Yet I've been extremely productive lately!

In fact I've moved on to a very large, very interesting, and very non-film-related project. It's called L.A. Street Names and that's precisely what it's about: I'm researching the history of streets and their namesakes throughout Los Angeles County, then writing a juicy, info-loaded paragraph for each one. Not just the famous drags like Hollywood Boulevard and Rodeo Drive, but loads of obscure and fascinating names, from Venice's Abbot Kinney Boulevard to the Valley's Zelzah Avenue and way beyond. Ever heard of Lark Ellen Avenue in West Covina? I've got it covered. How about Bandini Boulevard in Commerce, Gaffey Street in San Pedro, Empire Avenue in Burbank, or Kellogg Drive in Pomona? I'm there. This is going to be a massive website and app – with 50,000 streets in the county, the work will never truly be done. But having written nearly 600 paragraphs thus far, I've already uncovered loads of long-forgotten stories and characters from bygone times. Crime, scandal, tragedy, weirdness: it's all here in the streets we Angelenos live on. I've debunked many myths as well.

Naturally, once the site and app are ready – sometime later this year – you'll read about it here first.

Have I given up on filmmaking? I have not. If I ever get a great idea for another film, and the money to make it, I'll proceed. But filmmaking is rife with heartache and stress, and it's always a gamble: you can sink your heart and soul (and time and cash) into a project, only for it to go little-liked and/or little-seen. In comparison, something like L.A. Street Names is simply delightful to work on, to the degree that even if nobody sees it, it doesn't matter, because I am enjoying the research and the writing so much. So as long as I'm having a ball with this project, filmmaking will remain on hold. I will, however, endeavor to post more Lists of 9 and movie reviews here than I have been lately.

For now, I wish you an optimistic new year, and let's hope we all leave 2021 much happier, healthier, freer, and saner than we were when we entered it.