Happy 2009 everybody! I hope the last year was as good for all of you as it was for me. I know we are hearing a lot about a potentially depressing year ahead but I can’t help but view the next twelve months with cautious optimism. Perhaps number four on this list has a lot to do with it. What is this list you ask? Well, it’s an annual tradition where I come up with the top ten events from my year. It may come across as bragging, and maybe it is, but I think it’s healthy to look back and encourage yourself with positive thoughts about accomplishments or events so that you know you’re on the right track. Or even if you’re not on the right track or not where you want to be, you’re probably having some good times and that’s worth celebrating. Life’s the journey right? Somebody said that. Anyway, here’s last year’s list if you want to check it out.
10. The E! True Hollywood Story
If you don’t already know, I participated as an interviewee on the E! True Hollywood Story about Heath Ledger. It premiered right before The Dark Knight came out and it’s been playing over and over ever since. Truth be told, it was a pretty uncomfortable experience. It’s never easy being in front of a camera and I felt like I didn’t know what I was talking about most of the time. The interview lasted over an hour and covered every single aspect of his career. I think I came off a little stupid but the producers must have liked me because they used me a lot. This makes the list because the real joy is having people all over the country send me messages or e-mails saying they were flipping through channels and saw my unflattering mug. They get a kick out of it. And so do I.
9. Catalina Island
I took Tara to Catalina Island for her birthday and we spent a whole day there. It wasn’t what we expected, but we made the most out of it. Playing mini-golf, swimming, sunbathing, biking through the mountains. The best part was the 45 minute boat ride to and from the mainland. On the way back while the sun was setting, hundreds of dolphins swam and jumped next to us. I’ve never seen anything like it.
8. Zero Film Festival Screening
Luke and Brie Are on a First Date screened as part of the Zero Film Festival here in downtown Los Angeles in December. I was worried about the turnout since it was a first year festival and who knows how much publicity they were getting? Plus, most of my friends had already seen it and weren’t really jazzed about spending $10 to see it again. But people came. We must have had 100-150 and they seemed to like it. The movie plays best on a big screen, with a big crowd, full of young hipsters who can get the L.A. in jokes. This was that crowd and that screening. Great night.
7. Los Angeles Film Festival
I submitted a rough cut of Luke and Brie to this but didn’t get in. One of the programmers, Doug Jones, was really nice to me though and apparently saw enough in the movie to recommend it to other festival programmers. Eventually, that helped a lot in getting our premiere in New York. But since I work in Westwood and for a festival sponsor, I still got a badge and got to check out some movies. I saw a couple of my favorite films of the year and met cool people like Karina Longworth, Barry Jenkins and Molly Rodgeveller, who I’d like to think I can now call friends. Even though I would have loved to play there, sometimes it’s nice to be in that kind of environment with nothing to support or promote.
6. Strikers/L.A. Galaxy v. K.C. Wizards
Those two things have nothing to do with each other except that they involve soccer. For the second year in a row, I took part in a recreational soccer league and had the time of my life. Friday nights at 8 up in the suburban hills of Burbank, I got together with a group of people I would never otherwise see and played soccer. Every game I got better, scoring some goals and having a good time. I’m slowly putting on some pounds in my old age but if it wasn’t for this league, I’d be doing a lot worse. Tara likes to scoff at me when I watch soccer games on TV, usually with my friend Sean. His girlfriend is also named Tarah and is also a scoffer. But a family four-pack deal was too good to pass up and we all went to see the Galaxy take on the Wizards at the Home Depot Center. Seeing the game live turned those girls around and they were screaming louder than we were. The Galaxy won 3-1 because at the very end of the game, this shit happened.
My family celebrated Christmas in D.C. this year at my brother’s house. It’s always a highlight of the year to see the family again but this time was extra special because afterwards, Tara came down and spent some time with me in Virginia Beach. I really enjoyed showing her around where I used to hang out during my high school years, even though I don’t have the highest regard for that place as a city. She met some of my old friends and then met my Dad for the first time. Tara’s a real important part of my life so it had been too long coming for that to happen.
4. Barack Obama
Nobody had a crazier year than this guy. I still can’t believe he’s going to be President. I didn’t think he really had a chance this time last year but I hoped. And that’s all he needed. It was at times exhausting to follow the year in politics but the level of optimism in me and my friends has never been higher for the future of our government. If this year is really going to be as tough as people say it is, then I’m glad we’ve got this guy to be our leader through it.
3. Cast & Crew Screening/26th Birthday
This was the first time I showed the final cut of Luke and Brie Are on a First Date to an audience. An audience made up of cast, crew and close friends but a nerve-wracking experience nonetheless. Happily, we were allowed booze into the super cool venue (Echo Park Film Center) and I discovered that buzzed/drunk is the best way to watch a movie you’ve made. Afterward, I got good feedback from people as we moved over to the Shortstop to celebrate my birthday. At least I was celebrating it. Dancing, beers and hot dogs wrapped with bacon closed out the evening and who could ask for anything more?
2. Hamptons Film Festival
Luke and Brie Are on a First Date finally had its world premiere in October at the Hamptons Film Festival. It was a very long, difficult road to get there but we achieved what we set out to do. Seeing it on the big screen with a paying audience was a magical experience, a cliche I know. It was fitting having George there representing with me since he’s been a partner on this thing from the beginning and I hope he feels a sense of ownership over the movie since he’s entitled. Mike Muldoon and Chad Richardson also dropped in from New York, while the five days afforded an opportunity for me to get to know Michael Tully and Jeff Deutchman a little better. Both stand up dudes. Saw my favorite movie of the year there and spent some time on the beaches of Montauk. It was beautiful and a really, really special time for me.
1. The Spirit Awards
While I experienced a tiny bit of personal success, the highlight of my year still involves riding the coat tails of Aaron Katz. Nominated for a Spirit Award, he and all his co-horts on Quiet City blew into town for a few days in the hopes of leaving with a golden trophy. He, his girlfriend Elizabeth, and Brendan McFadden stayed with Tara and I. Being the friends that they are, they invited me to come along as Brendan’s date because they knew it would mean a lot to me. It did and it does. I’ve never felt so included and involved in the Hollywood machine and it was a cool feeling. The awards show was tense, the after party was great but the best part was that everyone was still in town for us to throw an Oscar watching party the next night. I won the pool and then we had a lively game of charades afterwards. Who plays charades anymore? We do. A lot happened during that visit and you should read all about it here.
That’s it. If I’m being honest with myself, I’d say that 2007 was kind of cooler than 2008 and a couple of my personal and professional goals were not met. But I could also say that 2008 honestly showed me that when one door closes, another opens and there’s plenty of opportunity out there in the big wide world. 2009 feels like a good year already and as long as I still have these friends, Tara and a project to work on, I feel like I can’t lose. Hope you made memories as good as these were for me.