Because of you, I was able to not only make my first film, but also have it distributed.
If you feel like you’ve been hearing about Out of Print forever – you kind of have. Can you believe that I launched my Kickstarter in 2012?
And it took four years to get to this point, the film being released on Amazon& Itunesas well as playing in independent cinemas on 35mm.
That’s how long it takes to make a movie – from soup to nuts, and the thing I have enjoyed most about this entire process is I have learned how to make and sell a film.
I raised the money, hired the crew, scheduled the interviews, rented the equipment, drew up the contracts, interviewed the cast, bought the lunches, paid the crew, sent out the Kickstarter incentives*, filmed in London, edited the film and got the color & sound done**, had selected folks watch a rough cut and give notes, got screeners made and sent out to film festivals, got the film digitized and made into a 35mm print (!!), premiered at the Sidewalk Film Festival and won the Programmer’s Award, personally toured with the film to several colleges and had wonderful Q&A’s with students, personally booked the film tour around the world, was featured on dozens of cool podcasts, was interviewed by dozens of awesome websites, was fired from the very establishment I had centered my film on, learned a hard fucking lesson about Hollywood, found a sales agent who took the film to the American Film Market, found a distributor who sold the film, and had the film premiere on VOD and be playing in independent cinemas on 35mm at the same time.
A hearty thanks to all of you who rode along with me.
Thank you all for all of your support and patience during these last four years. I am over the moon about the positive reviews Out of Print has gotten recently, and am so very thankful to all of you for making it happen.
That being said, it hasn’t all been rainbows and unicorns. Losing the New Bev broke my spirit hard core, and I’m still licking my wounds. I have a film that I now look at and wish it was different – I wish I hadn’t just focused on one theater, I see the repetition in the film, the lag in the middle and a thousand other little problems with it.
But I am proud of the film I made, and love the response that it has gotten. I’m glad that my honest passion for cinema & 35mm film shines through, and that it has gotten people to be curious about that small cinema near them, and what they are watching the movie on. That was always my goal with the film, and in that I think I have succeeded.
So what comes next?
Los Angeles has lost some of its sparkle.
I’m still looking for a job.
Am I going to make another film? I hope so.
I have a project I think would blow people’s minds.
And I have been hoping Out of Print will lead to the next film..but I don’t know. I haven’t been able to predict a thing correctly about this film yet, so let the chips fall where they may.
But I am still so passionate about cinema, and always will be. I don’t quite know what direction to turn in these days, but whichever way I go, I am sure there is film waiting for me at the end of the road.
*with the help of John Quinn, Daniel Owens and Jon Schell, respectively.
** If you donated to Out of Print’s Kickstarter and are owed a DVD, fear not! They will be arriving by Christmas…
So live streaming seems to be the new up and coming internet obsession, and I’m hopping aboard that sweet gravy train!
As many of you know, I have an ENORMOUS (color coded!) VHS collection (over 1,000).
Perhaps this is too many, I hear you say.
And you’re RIGHT.
Therefore, I am starting a project to watch every VHS on my shelves that I haven’t seen (or haven’t seen in a long time.)
If I don’t think I will ever watch it again, out it goes. YOU can have your say on what stays and what gets chucked!
I will give each movie 15 minutes and if it’s painful to watch, out it goes. If i’m digging it, I’ll watch the whole thing and perhaps it will regain it’s rightful place upon the wall… but that’s that chance you take, right?
Sound like fun?
Good! Join me as I stream my VHS adventures live, and chat with me about the film I am watching as I am watching it! (The future is NOW!)
Perhaps no one will join the stream, and I will end up watching the movies by myself – which I would be doing anyway – or perhaps I can watch it with a few other movie junkies from across the globe and we can all experience the film together in a whole new way!
The first live stream will start today at 4pm. It’s my very first one, ever, so please be kind and stick with me if things go awry…
I don’t know how regularly I will be doing this, but you can subscribe to my Channel, VHS Vixen, at the link below to receive an email when I am broadcasting.
I feel like every decision I make will send me down the wrong path.
I have several scripts and a novel I am working on, and they are all stopped at about the same point – the point where I have to make a definitive decision on which way the plot will go.
I keep thinking – Can I bear to work at another movie theater? Do I want to go back to acting? Write a book? Start a band? Direct another film – and if so, a documentary or a feature? And if a feature, which one? Can I figure out a way to move back to the UK? Maybe I should just chuck it all and leave Hollywood forever?
I obsessively thought about all that had happened at the Bev in the previous months and went through every different scenario in my head a thousand times.
How I should have seen it coming.
How I could have prevented it from happening – by not making the film.
Because the same woman who fired me – Julie McLean, Quentin Tarantino’s assistant, also tried her damnedest to stop me making Out of Print, even forbidding me to shoot interviews at the theater.
I thought about it all over and over and over…
It’s an endless spiral and it bottoms out with me lying in bed, terror-stricken.
So if I can’t bring myself to do anything, I end up doing nothing.
Which is essentially what I have been doing for the past year. Nothing.
I had a nervous breakdown.
I was done.
Exhausted and absolutely heart broken.
So I just laid there. It was all I could do.
I had, very unfortunately, decided to take a break from anti-depressants for the first time in seven years right when this happened.
I was so happy about Quentin’s involvement and my new position that I felt good for the first time since Sherman’s death, really. So I stopped taking my medication.
And then I was fired.
Fired for no good reason except that one person doesn’t like me.
Fired from the job I had poured my heart and soul into for 8 years.
Fired from the job I had asked for continually for 5 years before that.
Fired from the job I loved more than anything on the goddam planet.
Fired from the job I made a documentary about.
Fired from the job that gave me hope that the passionate love of cinema could be enough.
Fired from the job that was my identity.
I knew it would be bad, but the breakdown I had was unlike anything I had every experienced, and I hope that none of you has to ever experience.
I called it the Black Pit of Despair and I am just beginning to really crawl out of it now. Nearly A year later.
I didn’t leave the house for months, would just spend my days lying in bed, numb.
Eventually I began to flip through the channels mindlessly.
Then I started re-watching Glee (Which helped incredibly for the first five seasons. Then I started the sixth season and hated Ryan Murphy for destroying everything he had worked so hard for in the previous seasons.)
Then, slowly, movies. Dinners with friends. Road trips.
Of course, now i’m back on heavy antidepressants and anti anxiety medication, and am seeing a shrink and a counselor.
And yet, through all of this, Out of Print has been doing quite well.
It did a university circuit and has played in several theaters around the world – the kind of theaters it was meant to be played in.
I must say that watching it now is it own bittersweet torture. What once was a celebration is now a funeral.
Hopefully, it will be available widely soon, and I can finally get those DVD’s made that I still owe my Kickstarter backers. (I haven’t forgotten you! I will make it happen! WITH special features…)
But I haven’t been offered the kinds of jobs I was hoping for.
And I really don’t know where to turn.
My confidence in myself – and in the universe – shattered when I lost the New Beverly.
I am trying to figure out who this new, slightly battered Julia is, and what she believes in.
It absolutely breaks my heart to say this, but the New Beverly Cinema that have I loved and stood so ardently for – and that I believe so many of you out there love and stand up for – is gone.
The first time I walked into the New Beverly Cinema in October of 2001, I heard a little voice inside me say: “This is where you belong.”
It felt like home.
I loved that the theater was slightly shabby, that the prices were too cheap, the butter was still real, the films were still on film. I loved the kooky cast of characters working there, and the even kookier regulars who came to watch the films.
All you needed to be welcomed with open arms was a love of film.
Here was a place that was never about money or power, but solely about the love of cinema.
A quixotic throwback to a time when ideals meant something.
Run by a family, and casual to a fault, the New Bev seemed to me a time machine back to 1978 – when the theater opened – when revival cinemas were king.
I asked Sherman Torgan – then the owner – for a job that first day and every time I returned for five years. I knew I had to work there. I would wait as long as it took.
Eventually, he gave up one of his own shifts for me, and I started working at the Bev in May of 2006.
I was over the moon.
Shortly after I started, Sherman asked why he hadn’t hired me five years ago. He was astounded and amused by my youthful enthusiasm for the theater, which brimmed over in bucketfuls. He told me I breathed new life into the stagnant theater. Even stocking the candy counters made me happy – I was finally part of The New Beverly Cinema! The best movie theater in the world!
Over the past eight years, I felt I have given more of myself to the theater than I had to give. I have loved that place with all of me, and have told every soul I came in contact with about how absolutely fantastic it is. I have loved it more than any person should love a theater.
And now everything I have been fighting for with all of my heart all this time has just been taken away.
I can’t fight anymore.
I am done.
But let’s back up a bit, shall we?
Mid July of this year, I was summoned to a meeting at Quentin Tarantino’s house and informed that as of October 1st, 2014, Quentin would be taking over ownership of the New Beverly Cinema, and that I – along with Brian Quinn, who has run our Grindhouse nights for years – was to be one of the co-managers of the 35mm-only-from-now-on-forever-and-ever-amen Bev.
You can imagine how I felt – personally hand-picked by Quentin Tarantino to run his movie theater in Hollywood! A dream come true!
And I was being promoted to a salaried manager position! I made slightly less than $14,000 in 2013, so the thought of making nearly four times that – with paid vacation and health benefits – was dizzying. Living paycheck to paycheck and being on food stamps at 35 years old is a sobering feeling – one I was ecstatic to say goodbye to.
I was, as far as I understood it, to be the public face of the theater – to conduct guest interviews, run the social media outlets and to be front and center in the box office – the first face that the customers would see.
I take my box office position very seriously. I feel that it is my job to welcome every single person who walks through that door, and make them feel like they are part of something unique. I get to welcome them to the coolest movie theater and because I genuinely love the place, this task is a delight.
I was so excited to tell everyone about all of the exciting upgrades the theater was going to get!
Instead, a social media muzzling was immediately ordered.
I was not allowed to instagram, twitter, facebook, blog, or in any other way talk publicly about what was happening with the New Beverly.
I am a very open person and love sharing my life online. It hurt to ignore the dozens of emails, phone calls and texts asking me what was happening with the theater.
If I ignored you, I’m sorry.
I was censored.
This social media muzzling eventually became a confidentiality agreement that I refused to sign which would forbid me to say anything at all, on any public forum, about my job, the New Beverly Cinema or Quentin Tarantino.
Any violation of this agreement – and they would be constantly monitoring my social media outlets –was grounds for immediate dismissal.
Why would you want to silence your employees from saying good things about your business?
Because that is all I would ever say about the Bev.
This monitoring soon became physical as well – we were welcomed into work last week with cameras absolutely everywhere. Not only watching the box office and snack bar, where the money is, but the manager’s office and projection booth as well.
We weren’t being protected, we were being watched.
When I asked to know who was watching the monitors, I was ignored.
In the six weeks I worked with this new management “team”, which hypothetically included Julie McLean – Quentin’s personal assistant – Brian Quinn and projectionist Jeff Nowicki, I was left feeling completely vulnerable and isolated.
Although I was now a manager in title, I was never given any job parameters or instructions.
I was constantly left in the dark, my emails unanswered.
Emails about the status of our social media.
Emails about why showtimes aren’t easy to find online.
Emails about our inventory, about the theater, about my position.
Emails asking for help.
I was completely frozen out.
In fact Julie, my immediate superior, hasn’t answered an email of mine since October 3rd.
And yet, I was supposed to be managing a theater during all of this time.
This past Monday morning I was called to a last minute meeting by Julie McLean – the new general manager of the Bev – who informed me that, although I had only started my new position less than two weeks before, she had come to the conclusion that I was not manager material.
Effective immediately, I was to be demoted to snack bar, with no shifts guaranteed. In layman’s terms: I won’t fire you, because then I would have to pay unemployment, but I simply won’t schedule you – which forces resignation.
She assured me that any argument was useless. No, I was not allowed to state my side of the case, nor could I talk to Quentin. She had already assured him that this was the best move for the theater, and he had given his consent to allow her ultimate power in all decisions regarding the theater.
She wouldn’t listen to anything I had to say, and found all of my arguments “bordering on insubordination”.
My last gasp was pleading with her – couldn’t she see that there was a feeling, a soul to this place that she was only going to crush? Couldn’t she see that?
She told me I was making it about myself, like I made everything about myself.
My last words to her were:
“You’re going to turn this place into a fucking multiplex, and it’s a goddam drag.”
I think Quentin Tarantino is an incredibly talented filmmaker with his heart in the right place. He’s been my personal hero for several years – here’s a man who uses his celebrity in the best possible way – to insure 35mm will be around and to save a theater that both of us see as something extraordinary.
However, I think he has people working for him that aren’t serving his best interests.
He needs to wake up and see that these people are killing the very thing he is trying to keep alive.
For my dedication to the New Beverly, I am rewarded with no job, $47 in my bank account and a finished documentary film about a place that no longer exists.
Out of Print is a film I made about how important 35mm exhibition is and how special revival cinemas are – I illustrate this case with showing you ONE special cinema – The Bev.
I have been struggling to make this film since 2012, and am proud to say it is finally finished.
I was planning a big premiere at the New Beverly in January – on a 35mm print.
Obviously, that isn’t going to happen.
That’s why I have decided to let you all watch the documentary I made about the New Beverly Cinema – Out of Print – now.
I hope you will see first hand the enthusiasm I had for that place, and the passion I will always have for cinema. No matter what you think of the film, you can’t deny that my love for The New Beverly Cinema shines through.
And I hope it will encourage you to support that struggling mom and pop theater near you.
Embrace it while you can.
It may not always be there.
As for me, I have no idea what the future holds.
All I know is that I refuse to be censored anymore.