So I just wrote a blog post about my bike trip through Arizona on my way to Los Angeles. Now I’d like to say a few words about what happened in Los Angeles when I got here. I’m just about to head out of town to do another leg on the bike in Arizona before heading to my sister’s wedding party, and of course Iam dealing with the whole Israel drama that I am cataloguing with the Wilson Saga prose posts, so I won’t be writing too much for the next little while. I think this is a good time to wrap up the LA trip.
So if you’ve read any previous posts, you’d know I came out to LA in order to make good on a promise I made almost a year ago, that when I got my book published I would pass it out to seven filmmakers who inspired me to get into art and writing. Of course getting an autograph or something would be a nice perk, plus learning a bit about Hollywood film would be fun, seeing if there might be a place for me to field some ideas I have or seeing if anyone might want to do something with my book. Who knows? In any event, it would be a cool bike tripand a tourist week in LA.
So I rode the bike all over the city, of course. I could say that I almost lived at Venice Beach. That’s my kind of place. I rode the hill up to Griffith Observatory and saw the Hollywood sign, and rode my bike over the stars on the Walk of Fame and did all that stuff. But this won’t really be another travel blog post about my tourist adventures. I want to tell you about my book adventure and the Magnificent Seven.
Zack Snyder – Believe Media
While a lot of interesting things happened on this trip, I would say the most positive was the first stop. Zack Snyder listed Believe Media as his company on IMDB, so I thought Iwould head there. I expected a glass and steel office with receptionists and corporate suits, but that’s not what I found. I won’t put a picture here because I used the one picture Itook of the tripas the feature image of this post. It was a small house. Inside I met David, who apparently does the books. I had a great conversation with him, talking a lot about Zack and the whole #restorethesnyderverse drama and many of the issues about getting art made on the one hand, but seen on the other. I told him I was in LA in complete ignorance of the film world, and that the only information I had was the names of the directors who inspired me, and that Iwanted Zack to have my book. To my surprise, he actually, seriously, said he would look into getting my book passed along and see if there might be any way I could meet Zack or somehow get in touch with some of his people somehow. I was shocked and impressed.
After leaving the place, Ichecked Vero, where Zack had just posted a picture from the set of Rebel Moon, which was supposed to be done filming by now, but I suppose there had been some delays. This would mean that Zack himself was still up in Inyo County doing filming. I’d surely be out of town by the time he would be available. This was sadly ironic, as on my bike trip I made tye determination that I couldn’t fit Death Valley into my ride, but if Ihad, well, Inyo County is right up there. So Iwent to LA and actually got further away from the director that I was looking for.
Nevertheless, I was elated with the visit. While talking with David about doing script work and wanting to field story ideas, he mentioned that Ishold check them out, that they had a dozen quality directors who might just be interested in hearing about projects. With that kind of announcement, I think the whole aspect of my coming to LA to look for prospects was accomplished in the first meeting. That is, let’s say I did actually meet Zack. I can pretty much guarantee you he would have signed a DVD, talked with me a bit, shook my hand, and said, “Jonathan, from what I hear about what you have going on, well, you know, I started out with this great little production company called Believe Media, and they have a dozen quality directors who might just be interested in seeing what they could make out of any of your ideas.”
What I’m trying to say is, I didn’t meet the guy, but I think I accomplished the mission anyway. And that was very encouraging. Overall, this says something for the idea of doing things the old-fashioned, way. The pre-COVID way. Like, ringing a doorbell, talking to someone, looking them in the eye, having a good conversation. There is really only so much you can do through Zoom and e-mail. So with that sentiment in my mind, I left Believe Media elated. Those are going to be the guys I am going to call when I get into film.
Chris Terrio – Creative Artists Agency
This leg of the adventure was a bit deflating, but the disappointing aspects of the endeavors we take are important because they serve to give us the contrast we need to understand the nature of the path we are on. So when I get to CAA, I find that this is what I was epxecting when I got to Believe Media. A skyscraper, reception desk, security, and corporate suits walking in and out. I went up to the front desk and asked about dropping my book off with Chris Terrio’s rep. They said they couldn’t accept anything from the public. Now keep in mind I am riding my bike all over LA in the heat. I am showing up at these offices in bicycle shorts with sweat running down my face, and I’m exhausted when I get there and really don’t think well. So I didn’t really ask any questions. I just left, shoulders hung low. Later on I went back to IMDB and found the e-mail of Chris’ rep and sent an e-mail introducing myself and saying Iwanted to deliver my book to him somehow. A couple days went by without a response, so I took the only option I thought that I had left and left it on their doorstep.
Then of course I went about my business and forgot to write a followup e-mail to his rep letting her know the book was on the porch. I’d say the chance that she gets it will be zero. I did not get to have a conversation with her or anybody about Chris Terrio. And I did not get to meet Chris Terrio. There is a bit of frustration with that, as Chris is fimmaker in general, having directed a bit of this and that as well, but his claim to fame is being an award-winning screenwriter. He wrote Argo for Ben Afleck, and he wrote for ZackSnyder, particularly Batman vs. Superman, the most excellent of all superhero blockbusters. Everyone else on this list is basically a household name. But Chris is a screenwriter, and not exactly world-famous. I thought if there were any one of the Magnificent Seven that I might actually meet, it would be Chris. But, well, in this case I didn’t get the privelege of being a sweaty weirdo in bicycle shorts with a book in his hand. I only got to be an e-mail with a request involving a hollywood filmmaker. It probably went straight to junk.
I don’t mean to say anything negative about CAA or Chris or his rep. It’s just, well, when things get big, they get systematic, walls come up, processes get articulate. And you’re not going to have a bookkeeper at the production company talking with you about how you might be able to get your work noticed.
I’ve been complaining for a while about difficulties with electronics. This serves as another dimension of that kind of difficulty.
Darren Aronofsky and the Rabbi
So you pick your battles, and you spend your time and energy where you can. Now Darren Aronofsky is actually a New Yorker. His company is actually in New York. Out here in LA the guy does have a rep. But that rep is the Creative Artists Agency. I was already familiar with the place from Chris Terrio. I didn’t have any idea of any avenue of getting anything to him, his people, his companies, or his reps.
But Darren Aronofsky is a Jew. He made my list of the Magnificent Seven because of a movie he did call Pi, which describes my life perfectly as it stood in early 2020 in Guadalajara. He also did a movie called Noah, which was panned by the religious right, but addressed some of the most profound themes involving religious characters that I’ve seen in mainstream film. I could write an essay or two about these two movies. Of course I am a fan of Black Swan and Requiem for a Dream too (who isn’t?) but the two movies I just mentioned prior are the ones that got him on my list. They are very, very Jewish movies.
I am converting to Judaism through the Beit Din of Los Angeles, and among my tourist activities was a meeting with one of the rabbis from the Beit Din. I So I gave him Darren Aronofsy’s copy of my book. It made for a great conversation starter. “Shalom, Rav! Here’s a book I wrote. You get Darren Aronofksy’s copy.”
We had a good meeting, talked about many things, and off I went.
Quentin Tarantino – William Morris Endeavor
So Quentin Tarantino is an interesting member of the Magnificent Seven. Anyone who has read my stuff will know about my many references to his work. Check out La búsqueda del Lobo and Yet Another Bonnie Situation. Also, though, you know that I am consumed at the moment with the nightmarish situation of the incomprehensible impossibility of going to Israel, where I have gotten the idea that I have a certain destiny to go to. Quentin actually lives there now. So of course the notion has the tendency to make itself present that there might be some sort of connective purpose in this, and that maybe this guy could indeed be an influence on my path from that side of the world. Plus, I think my book would make a good Quentin Tarantino movie. Kind of a sequel to Jackie Brown. Of course anyone who has seen Jackie Brown and who has read my book will not get that impression at all, but I would have to write an essay in explanation of the various threads of themes that run through Tarantino’s movies to make my statement make sense.
Anyway, William Morris Endeavor was something between Believe Media and CAA. It was a standard office with security everywhere. There was some kind of convoy of super expensive vehicles out front, like maybe someone famous was inside or something. No idea, really. So I get up to the front, and the woman at the desk also told me she could not accept deliveries, but the mailroom could get it up to his rep. So off to the mailroom I went. Again dripping in sweat, half-delerious, and wearing bicycle shorts. I asked the guy to take my book to Quentin Tarantino’s rep. I didn’t even know his rep’s name. Again, I am just a fan of Hollywood Filmmakers riding around LA on a bike wanting to meet Quentin Tarantino or whatever.
It was a weird feeling, though. Like, the guy in the mailroom looked at me and said, “we’ll get it up there,” in a voice of absolute calm, confidence, and assurance. There was something supernatural about it. Like, I actually have confidence that the book made it to Quentin’s rep.
So we have a bigger, more corporate agency, like CAA, but even here, I got to talk to a real human being. The mail guy. E-mail is an infernal thing. So will I find out if anybody connected to Quentin Tarantino ever got my book before I get to heaven and get to ask the Almighty if they did? Well, we will see. But because I talked to a human being, I can live the rest of my life with a certain confidence that what I did was not in vain.
Ben Affleck – Pearl Street Films
Okay. I might have screwed this one up. I didn’t actually go here. I took a look at it on Google Maps. The shocker of Believe Media being in quite a different form that I expected, well, I looked at Pearl Street Films on the Street View in Google Maps, and there is nothing there.
On top of that, though, I’m kind of at a point where I just don’t want to bother Ben at this point. Let me tell you why Ben Affleck is on the list of the Magnificent Seven. Yeah, I’m a superhero guy, and Ben is Daredevil, and Ben is of course the best of all Batmen. But I’d been impressed with him for a long, long time. And this guy has had more ups and downs than a seesaw loaded with kindergarteners on crack cocaine.
He starts out at Matt Damon’s Buddy doing comedy acting and a really diverse slate of films, and then somehow becomes this Sexiest Man Alive sensation where he was doing endless streams of movies, most of them junk, but the media could not get enough of him. Then all of the sudden, aroudn the Daredevil Gigli time, he just got ruined. He did some GREAT movies during that time, like Paycheck, but he just got MURDERED by the movie making community and critics in the press. But then he comes back out of nowhere as a director with Argo and winds up back on top of the film world with Gone Girl, and was so much of a man of the hour that Warner made him the DC Superhero Czar, but the press went after Zack and the Justice League, Ben falls off the wagon, gets divorced, all the while making a mixed bag of films like the Accountant. Like, he’s done som many great things that people hated, and so much junk that people loved, with those occasional moments where everything coalesced into perfect artful harmony.
So of course this guy is going to be on the list. And my poem The Magnificent Seven actually include an inspirational video of his. His attitude and career are just supernatural. But at this point the poor guy is just getting hounded by paparazzi. Ana de Armas, Jennifer Lopez…I think the last article I read about Ben is that he burst into tears at dinner with his new wife.
So looking at Pearl Street Films, I just got the impression that the place was a bank address to throw off papparazzi, and really, all I wanted to do was leave Ben alone in peace.
So what I was I gave his copy of my book to a cute chick from Spain staying here at the hostel who is working on her PhD in literary film analysis. I was wanting to impress her, and thought maybe at the least she’d write a review of it for me. Of course I haven’t seen her since. But the experience was fun. And the line was cool. Like with the rabbi but slightly different: “You get Ben Affleck’s copy of my book.” Oh well, it’s been a fun experience.
David Lynch – The David Lynch Foundation
So This was a weird nut to crack. David Lynch has some kind of a production company, Absurda, but no address or anything associated with it could be found. Now david Lynch is pretty good with the absurd. Like Pearl Street Films, I thought maybe it was a joke, that nobody would be anywhere. He does list on IMDB his David Lynch Foundation, although I wondered if that too might be a joke and wondered if it was associated with him at all. But, I didn’t want to psyche myself out of my trips and commitments, so I went there. The website for the foundation lists tremendous amounts of charity work they do, so I expected a bustling office, and was going to ask them if they were in any way associated with the director David Lynch. I found something a little different.
Who knows what I might find inside? Maybe David Lynch lives in a little house on South Highland Avenue? I doubt I’ll ever know, as nobody answered the door. It was mid-morning of mid-week. Any business would have been open, you’d think. Who knows what that place is? Maybe David Lynch was out back doing his weather reports while I was ringing the doorbell. Absolutely no idea. So I left my book on the table out front.
Joel Cohen – Alia Bailey
So this is another fizzle, like Darren Aronofsky and Ben Affleck. I didn’t give this guy a book. He isn’t here. He is a New Yorker. He doesn’t have a rep out here that I could find. So I gave his copy to my daughter, to whom the book is dedicated.
So that’s the story of the delivery of my book to the Magnificent Seven. It didn’t quite turn out. I didn’t quite get it done. I only delivered the book to four of them. I screwed the pooch with Darren, Ben, and Joel. And two of them, Chris and David, were left on the porch out front. But I talked to the book keeper at Believe Media and the mail guy at William Morris Endeavor, and those two gave me what I needed.
I’m confident those two went somewhere. And for the others, they played their part in the experience. They told me about challenges. They told me about difficulties. particularly they told me about the importance of human contact.
And also, I learned that the various film and production companies are not how they seem until you actually get to the front door and learn what is really going on. And I pretty much figured out that when I can settle down and start getting serious about film, I want to talk to Believe Media and their dozen quality directors who I’m confident will help me get some art made.
Maybe some day I will meet some of these guys in the flesh. Quentin Tarantino does live in Israel, and that country is smaller than my left shoe. Chris Terrio isn’t so famous that he couldn’t meet me some day. Zack Snyder will be going to comic book and sci-fi conventions for the rest of his life, and Arizona isn’t that far from the San Diego Comic Con. I mean, if I really make it a point to get a signed DVD from him, I don’t doubt it can happen.
But overall, for me, this trip was a success. A year ago I made a promise. I kept the promise. Ben said in his video attached to my poem: “Do the work.” I did the work. I wrote the book, and I delivered it to my sources of inspiration, and I got the name of a production company I want to work with when the time comes.
There will be great things to come. This I believe.