ALLISON LEE | UPDATES
I never go to the lobby.
For me, an essential part of the moviegoing experience is watching the previews. In fact, my favorite movie theatre in Los Angeles, the Vista, boasts not only a stunning Art Deco interior, a house supervisor who dresses up like a character from whatever movie has opened, an unheard of $6.50 matinee but a vintage concessions commercial, "Let’s All Go to the Lobby." It charms me every time. Also, the audience at the Vista is the best. Composed mostly of fanboys/girls, they take things up a notch, applauding or heckling vociferously the coming attractions.
Below, a trailer of my own.
Growing up in Hollywood and I mean that phrase in its most literal sense, my earliest memories revolve around the movie theatres on the namesake boulevard. I remember watching 101 DALMATIONS and THE KARATE KID with my father and sister at various theatres on this strip. Long live the Vine and the Vogue. I saw DEAD POETS’ SOCIETY at the Cinerama Dome; earlier, it was CINDERELLA at the long gone Fairfax. But my very first movie was ANNIE at what was then called Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. It was an odd preschool excursion of sorts, and I was accompanied by my grandmother. I remember very little of the movie, only that I bawled uncontrollably (and most likely out of fright) at the helicopter scene, but the theatre remains prominent in memory. I was awestruck by this melding of gold and red, velvet and lights, Asia and Hollywood.
Years later, I learned of a showman named Sid Grauman, and that his was the Chinese Theatre. I had long dismissed that seedy stretch as a garish tourist trap and had only just begun to appreciate the movie history entwined in Grauman’s structures. Just across the street from the Chinese Theatre was a dilapidated building called the Egyptian. Here was where the very first Hollywood premiere took place. In 1996, the American Cinematheque bought the Egyptian for one dollar and restored it to its former glory.
So, it’s a bit of a round trip for me, that the American Cinematheque chose KEPLER X-47 as a part of its Short Film Programs. The film was shown in conjunction with other neo-science fiction shorts, including the stellar PROSPECT, this past September.
Image courtesy of Cinemagumbo.
Seven Bucks and a Broken Elevator
Most Asian parents wouldn’t react kindly to their offspring choosing a career in entertainment over what’s considered the normative, medicine or law. But when I first told my
Hodoritiger of a mother that I wanted to pursue film, she took her usual Sherman’s march to the sea approach and dragged me off to tour the number one film school in the nation, USC.
Ever the ingrate, I protested at such presumptuous behavior for the entire duration of the car ride. What made her think that I could even get in? What if I changed my mind? I was only in my first year of college, for God’s sake. My mother told me to shut up, but I knew what she was thinking. Nothing’s worthwhile unless you do/get/are the best.
I remember being shocked most that my mother forked over the seven bucks for parking. This was a woman who despised valets and avoided meters like the plague. Never pay for parking is her (and now my) mantra. But without any resentment, my mother asked the attendant where the film school was located on campus. It was she who marched ahead and found the olive green Lucas building. We walked across the tiled floor and punched the buttons for one of the two elevators. The doors opened and we stepped inside.
I smiled to myself as the doors closed and looked upward. She was right. This just might be the place for me. Then, the elevator lurched downward and the lights went out. We were stuck somewhere between the ground and second floors.
Eventually, we got out. And I got in.
Below, a collection of some of my projects as an MFA candidate. This one’s dedicated to my first and best patron, my mother.
Trick or Treat
Kick a Boy
Pump It Up, Big Red