I made some pretty big life decisions about 5 months ago. The biggest was probably my decision to come to Los Angeles, the city where dreams are made. I came here around mid-February with about $500 in my bank account. Luckily for me, I fell almost immediately into the swing of things, getting a few odd jobs through my connections, making some animated promo videos and learning how things work here. My friends have been my biggest asset, and that is what this post is going to be about.
Around February, Mark Batalla, my friend and former art director at our college newspaper, approached my other friend Annie Wilkes about making a behind-the-scenes documentary about a Community-themed art show he was planning on having in the summer. Annie, knowing I was gainfully underemployed, and I imagine a little freaked out about taking on a whole movie by herself, enlisted my help. I had nothing going on besides odd jobs and volunteer work, so I jumped on. Little did I know that this project was going to become so insanely fulfilling and rewarding. “Big things have small beginnings,” as Damon Lindelof might say.
Before coming to Los Angeles, I had been living in Mexico City for three months, doing some livin and soul-searching. It was there, in a two-bedroom artist studio where I was living, that I first really encountered Community. When I first heard about Community, I assumed it was another single-camera Office-style rip-off sitcom, jumping on the bandwagon of some “trend,” taking familiar characters and placing them in a Community College. How wrong I was. The series was into it’s third season by the time I came to it, viewing those re-runs on Mexican television. It was one of the very few shows I found that was in English, and it gave me comfort to see something so nuanced, intelligent, and above those, so in-English. The first ones that I remember really sticking with me were the Bottle Episode and A Fistful of Paintballs. I was taken immediately with both the writing and the visual style. It is a show for a pop-literate audience. It made me sad to watch it sometimes, and I admit, I often spent my viewing hours on “How I Met Your Mother,” which is admittedly a much easier show on the brain. Community reminded me of all the highs and lows of being involved in the pop culture of America, of how attached I am to quoting movies with my friends, of how fun it is to create things that you find beautiful, fun and interesting. It reminded me of those things, but in a way, I feel like it made me decide that I had to get back to it.
None of us were expecting the Six Seasons and a Movie Art Show, as it came to be know, to become so big. We watched with wide eyes as our Kickstarter reached its funding goal and then just kept going. We were flabbergasted as more than 130 artists submitted us not just good pieces, but great pieces. Throughout all of this, I was catching up on Community, watching it from the pilot up to the present. I don’t think any of us were guessing how big this thing would be. Except Mark, maybe.
Leading up to the show, Annie and I shot interviews with the artists, and they continued to amaze us. Everyone of them was friendly and full of creative energy. Each one of them had a unique story about falling in love with Community.
And then the show came, and everything just blew up (in a good way). Stars of the show came, writers came, Dan Harmon showed up to MC our costume contest. It was, to say the least, a little unbelievable. Many hard working hours and near-sleepless nights later, it was all over.
Before we broke down the show on Sunday night, we had a sit-down dinner with the whole of PixelDrip. Everyone took a moment to give their lows and highs from the whole experience. A part of me thought at first, “we should be filming this!” But I am a big believer that some things need to be kept special, housed nowhere else other than the tome of our recollective memory. These memories grow with you, because they have no objective reference point. The Koyukan Indians have this wonderful philosophy, where when something occurs out of the ordinary, it is encouraged to shut up and simply take it in, recording every detail about it with your mind alone. These moments become the myths and legends of our own lives, because they are given time to stew, and to be collectively re-imagined.
In a larger sense, that is what the art show did for me as well. This art show will be impossible to recreate any other time. We’ll be able to put the art in the gallery again, as I know we hope to do. But this past weekend, creative people, artists, writers, amateurs and professionals were all brought together to view the collective re-imaginings of a thing, a group of stories, that we all fell in love with. We got to show others the way we felt about a thing we really loved. We got to speak with the people that made it possible, and heard how grateful they were to see their work loved as much as it was.
There is still a lot of work to do: organizing our footage and getting a cut made, sending out the purchased artwork and returning some to its creators, and naturally, figuring out the next steps for our little art collective PixelDrip Gallery. But I’ve finally come to a time in my life when I’m not going to second-guess myself or where I’m going. We’re going full steam ahead, for better or worse, and we’re doing it together. We have found that there is a community of people who are bright, insightful, and creative. If we move forward together, there’s nothing we can’t do. I’m so excited to see where this train is going.
A huge thank you to our man Mark Batalla, who had a vision and followed through. To the entire PixelDrip crew and all of us that ran around all weekend making it happen, especially J Ramos, who has put me up in his house during this insane undertaking. To the fantastic artists, whose skill and dedication we could not have made this happen without. To all the patrons, who showed up and expressed their opinions and love for everything. To our amazing documentary team, Annie Wilkes, Brittany Sterret and Annie Jeong. And to Dan Harmon, for creating something that we all fell in love with and created strong personal connections to. Thank you everyone, this was an amazing experience. I look forward to having more amazing experiences with all of you in the very near future.