For the first Hollywood Is My Mother project, I honestly got in way over my head. It was a breezy California spring and riding high on a combination of ambition, good weather, and a fairly serious coffee addiction, I wanted to make something big and bold. From my little apartment in K Town, I had recently become obsessed with the Bergman movie Persona, wherein someone’s personal identity is almost entirely based on other people's actions and feelings. This struck me as a great theme to explore for my next go around at Hollywood Is My Mother. I think I was trying to ask the universe, Is this me? Am I authentic to myself or am I just a reflection of other people from my past?
Cut to 4 am, alone in my studio apartment, scribbling on my whiteboard, chain-smoking out of my window, blasting Sharon Van Etten through my AirPods, and attempting to answer this question. I wanted to make a video that had themes of reflection, fraud, and imitation. As the whiteboard filled up, it hit me how insecure I was in my artistic voice and possibly just in my life in general. Here it was on the wall, a timeline of people and situations that I had subconsciously adapted and catered to. I had compromised and capitulated at nearly every turn in order to please others. I thought to myself, maybe if I put this pattern of mine on the screen I can better understand and move beyond it.
A month later, there I was on set, watching it all fall apart. It was a big crew, must have been around 20 people and I was either paying everyone out of pocket or calling in favors. I distinctly remember the feeling of watching a big pile of money being torched in a mismanaged bonfire. My concept was true but the execution wasn’t. It turned out it was very difficult to make something genuine about something so not.
It took me forever to edit it and in the end, what I made was a cool flashy music video and not a coherent story. I wasn’t fooling anybody and there was no voice to the project. It truly was a hodgepodge of other people’s work. I could not be found.
Perhaps it was one of those necessary mistakes in life where you face yourself in order to find yourself. Like, if I was being honest, before it appeared on the whiteboard, I sort of knew I was a fraud to myself. I always felt insecure to the point of letting other people’s opinions define my self-image. I think it took failing on this project to finally admit it and say it out loud.
Maybe this is how we grow to trust ourselves, by making the right mistakes.
Special thanks to Milk Studios and Media box!
Director/Editor: Brit Phelan
DP: Matt Tompkins
1st AC: Samahra Little
2nd AC: Jak DeRobertis
BTS Photographer: Johnny Le
Gaffer: Jeffrey Taylor
Key Grip: Beau Beagles
Wardrobe Stylist: Brittny Moore
Stylist Assistant: Regina Doland
Hair and Makeup: Abby Woodman
Production Designer: Oliva McManus
On Set Dresser: Jeremiah Thomas
Production Coordinators: Caitlin Engel and Vincenzo Carrano
Choreographer: Moises Josue Michel
Dancers: Jen Lacy, Pia Vinson, Dominique McDougal, Gia Todisco and Nikki Keeshin
VFX: Peiter Hergert
Colorist: Dan Edwards
Music: Jenna Kyle
Sound: Graham Barton