Happy new year everyone! I just finished a big list, but they keep on coming. This one is an annual tradition of mine dating back to 2005, where I list the top 10 events that I was able to take part in or that happened to me in 2009. The goal is to remind myself of the highlights of each year and encourage myself to keep trying to make positive memories and experiences for myself. Can you say “myself” three times in one sentence and not be a total prick? This summer, I’ll have been out of high school for ten years, college for six and even though my career isn’t where I’d like it to be, I’m not doing so bad and I’m enjoying the times I have along the way. That’s what it’s all about. You can revisit past years with these links- 2008. 2007. 2006. 2005.
So, here is my top 10 of 2009.
10. Michael Jackson
Okay, so I don’t mean Michael Jackson dying was a highlight to my year. The man was the very first person I idolized as a kid and I was super bummed to hear that he had passed. But rediscovering how much I enjoy all of his music and his talent in the period after that was a real joy. Going to bars and everyone losing their shit when “Billie Jean” came on (well, more than they usually do). Seeing This is It in the Dome on opening night with a rowdy crowd of fellow fans. His work really did bring people together and it did so again in 2009.
9. Coop’s Corner
My friend Justin Cooper asked for some help making a web series and it wound up being the only set I was on all year. I don’t crew very often and it was fun to get back around movies (or any kind of product) being made, particularly by friends. Sean McElwee, Matt Goldberg and Tara were all involved as well so it never felt like hard work. The best sets never do. Still waiting on that finished product Coop!
8. Joshua Tree
Back in January, I took a day out for myself and drove to Joshua Tree. I took a still camera and a video camera and thought maybe inspiration might hit. Even though I didn’t come back with a music video, it was amazing being out there in the desert. A lot of things go through your mind and your eyes get a real workout trying to take in all the beauty. If you ever need to recharge your batteries, I recommend sitting on a rock out there for an hour or two.
7. The Confederations Cup
Basically a little cousin to the World Cup, the Confederations Cup is a tournament that happens every four years in the year before the big event. The host nation is the same and it serves as a warm-up to staging the grand event for them and only eight teams participate (the winner from each Confederation tournament plus the previous World Cup winner). The U.S. was representing North and Central America and despite seeming dead and buried after two games, rallied against impossible math and claimed second place. It was huge for the team and spectacular to watch. As if I needed any more reasons to get excited about the World Cup this year.
6. Zero Film Festival in Santa Ana
The good folks at the Zero Film Festival picked Luke and Brie Are on a First Date to play as part of its West Coast Tour and hooked it up with screenings in Portland and Orange County. George Ducker, Meg Webster, Matt Boese and I all went down to Santa Ana and supported the film. The venue was more for bands and there was a steady stream of people piling in during the last fifteen minutes who were just waiting to see the live show after us, but it was a good time. It’s always nice to see the thing with different crowds and my friend from high school Heather Comstock even made it out, which was lovely of her.
5. Aaron Katz and Cris Lankenau visit
The best part about Katz being semi-famous is that he has to stop in to Los Angeles every once in a while and it’s great to see him. Coincidentally, Lankenau came out during the same short period to audition for a big movie and we hung out, ate Mexican food, played name that tune and generally did nothing. Which is what Aaron and I do best.
This was the first year that I didn’t spend Christmas with my family (who all live in Virginia), but I did spend Thanksgiving there instead. It was great to see my brothers and my parents, as well as my soon to be sister-in-law and my new nephew, Oakley the dog. It was also great to see some old high school buddies and get a nostalgic taste of Virginia Beach, which is etching itself further and further back in my memory.
3. Bicycle Lane and the Zero Film Festival
This entry is like three in one. I was very happy to become friends with Jeff Ruggles during 2009 and watch his film slowly get out into the public. Hanging out with him and Don Black at the Zero launch party and at their premiere, as well as their cast/crew screening at SpaceFiftyTwenty were all good times. With George Ducker packing up and heading to greener pastures, it’s nice to make new L.A. friends and not feel like my group is slowly dwindling. Also at Zero, I got to see Modern Love is Automatic on the big screen and hang out with Zach Clark for the first time since SXSW 2006, so that’s a big bonus.
2. Location Scouting in Reno
I finished the screenplay for the film I want to make next and enlisted the help of Jeff Ruggles and Matt Godlberg to help try and make it happen in 2010. One early step was traveling to Reno and scouting out all the locations I want to film in. My Mom’s family all lives there so I got to see Grandma, aunts and cousins, which is always nice, but the feeling of planting a seed that could and should grow into a major part of my life is what felt so special. If I haven’t shot this thing by the time I’m making this list next year, I’ll be very disappointed.
1. Oxford Film Festival/Nashville Visit
George Ducker, Sean McElwee, Keegan DeWitt, Tara and I all went to Oxford to represent Luke and Brie Are on a First Date at the great film festival they hold there. We started the trip in Nashville, meeting up with Keegan and seeing a fantastic Roman Candle show at The Basement. We road tripped it to Oxford and spent four days there hanging out, seeing movies and causing trouble. I love all those guys and it meant a lot that they all came.