Do you ever feel like your entire life has been played out already?
On the day I was born Francis Coppola released his documentary "Heart of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse." In it, he says that one day a kid from nowhere with a little pocket camera would break down the abstract professionalism of film and transform it into an art form by being able to film the world around them.
My first film camera was a little flip camera that I won in a raffle. The first thing I ever shot with it was a documentary of my trip to Varanasi, India. And to Coppola’s prediction, I found myself moving to Hollywood in July of 2016 where I’d make a career of documenting the world around me.
I remember saying goodbye to my girlfriend and driving off in my Honda Civic filled with clothes and one laptop. I had landed a few freelance jobs shooting ads and I was set on making LA my home. The first couple years were an absolute grind. By 2018 i was working as a full-time art director for Youtube and still freelance shooting and creating commercials for some of the world’s biggest brands. It was what I had always strived for yet I couldn’t escape the feeling that something was missing. I thought back to that first summer when I made the decision to leave my old life behind because I just needed a change. But had I truly changed? I was fairly successful and established, but i was making art solely for other people. My motivation to create wasn’t coming from pure internal expression. And you could tell. Could what was missing be the feeling of artistic freedom?
Determined to find out, on one chilly evening after leaving yet another fairly boring Oscar party, I caught up with Mike and Diane, who had a band called Lesser Pieces. They were about to play a set at The Moroccan Lounge on the outskirts of downtown. I went to the show not knowing what to expect and I was immediately moved by Diane’s voice. It was sort of soft but still otherworldly and powerful.
After their set and a couple mezcals later, I asked the band if they wanted to collaborate with me on an original song to accompany a video. They said yes. And right then and there Hollywood Is My Mother was born. A project I didn’t even truly know how to define yet, but I knew where to start.
To make something takes a community. A community that I was still building. I reached out to a few friends to ask them for a current photo of themselves and one from their childhood for this video because perhaps the best way to gain perspective is simply to look back at the past and see how much you’ve grown.
Sometimes that’s all you need to get started. That and a small camera to document it.
Director: Brit Phelan
Animator: Peiter Hergert
Music: Lesser Pieces
Photos: Sierra Prescott, George S. Harkness III, Logan Triplet, Brian Bee, Caitlin Engel, Emma Vaughn, Diane Badié, Johnny Le, Aly Cayer, Brit Phelan, Jeredon O’Conner, Alissa Torvinen, James Heredia, Mike Slott, Natalie Saing, Lauren Beyda, Amanda Kitt, Stephanie Fraide, Emilio Loria, Monica Reyes, Tim Mahoney, Shaun Murdock, Amanda Tuttle, and Ange Beckum