It's uneven slabs of concrete in the most forgettable shade of grey, littered with proud black dots of chewing gum, which at some stage in their life left the mouth of someone famous before leaving a car window (or out the top of a red convertible) and now resides under the tires of more expensive cars - not to mention almost no foot traffic. But I owe a lot, including a friendship, to both the road and footpath between West Hollywood and Silverlake.
Some 10 years ago, a mutual friend (the beautiful Lana Kim) did me the biggest of niceties by introducing me to Mike Mills over email. At the time, Mike had just transitioned from music videos (no, I didn’t cry watching his video for Air’s All I Need) into artwork for the likes of The Beastie Boys, then into film through his debut feature, Thumbsucker. And as the second best thing ever to happen to me at the time… he replied. Mike is not a man of many words over email, so although he said he’s keen for a catch up, he said he’d give me a call in a few days when he was free. I’m not one to press people for specifics, so I waited.
Though a good result in most cases, my flight back to Sydney was the following day. So I did what I had to and postponed my flight by 24 hours for a measly $200. Worthy investment, sure, but no phone call. So I postponed for a second day, $400 - I can handle that. Day 3, still no call, so I packed my bags and walked those hollow streets one last time before heading back to The Standard. Of course when does he decide to ring, but the minute I step into the elevator, whilst nervously standing beside Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Yes, he’s on a private number, so when the call cuts out after he mentioned a tea house in Silverlake I muttered a yes. With no way to call back and suitcase in-tow, I flick the extremely uninterested valet guy a note and I’m off.
I spend 30 minutes in a cab that is going no quicker than 5kph, before I jump out and start running to Mr Mills and his tea cup. Silverlake is a long way from West Hollywood, but with the most chilled raise of the shoulders from behind a panting apology, he welcomed me before I sat down for tea. In reflection, he bounced the idea of a story he’d written about himself and his father who, at the age of 75 came out of the closet and unleashed his homosexuality for the last 5 years of his life, before it was taken from him by cancer - Beginners.
I’m awed every day by the creative talent of you people, though every now and again someone’s spirit and energy grabs your attention that little bit tighter. If I’m being honest, some of Mr Mills’ contemporaries may have made more ’successful’ films, but they have nothing on this Director/Writer/Designer/Artist’s sincerity, honesty and willingness to share what is the most human of things - our time. And it’s for these reasons that I’m proud to say that the first feature on our new SP site belongs to Mike Mills, and his story in making his next feature film, 20th Century Women.