Alex brought me to a vacant warehouse in Connecticut in the middle of winter. He filled the open space Christmas trees and charlatan characters before he turned the world upside down. While the set transformed, I loaded the film for our camera sitting on the on the icy toilet seat in the rickety drywall bathroom stall. My fingers worked chapped and raw; the film slipped and snapped in the cold. I remember Tim and I rigged lights the night before by climbing walls until we made the dark warehouse warm. When we wrapped, the crew drank beers while the winter chased out the light. And then we sat with the trees and the slivered fallen snowflakes we made out of instant potato mix in the dark.
Bridget planted me dead center inside a Technicolor laundry fortress. She drew creatures out from her imagination that had insatiable appetites. She had capes crafted out of panty hose and she fashioned sunglasses to see into a soul. The set was steeped in tye-dye majesty and the feeling we had everyday was electric. I never carried the camera alone on that shoot. All of the crew had wild hearts, steady hands and wilder hair. Had we been a baseball team, our crew would have been called The Ladykillerz..
We all played house with Becca and her puppies during those weeks we spent together at her home in Encino. She became our Wendy and we were her lost boys. Neverland never will hold a candle to our a rag-tag crew. Joe and Todd held court to cinema and curry so very well. We worked with a mean hunger for red vines and a stubborn will to stay standing until the next laugh could break.
It’s because of the young, brave and broke– and their cut loose ideas and
unrelenting energy– that’s the reason I still want to make movies, despite the
challenges, the setbacks, the costs and calamity.
I hope I can share a similarly memorable and energizing experience with my own crew throughout the shoot for my short, Julia, which will shoot this February in Los Angeles.
The short film is a noir drama that meditates on the 5-minutes that follow a murder that takes place on a Christmas Eve in the San Fernando Valley in the early 1990’s.
Danielle has worked in the camera department on films and television in Germany, New York and Los Angeles, most recently working as a 1st Assistant Camera for independent features and television shows in LA. She has worked as the assistant to Oscar-nominated cinematographer, Matthew Libatique, A.S.C. and she has been a creative collaborator on many independent films as a director of photography and writer. Her most recent project as writer/DP was directed by Bridget Palardy and produced through AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women.