“Beverly Hills…that’s where I want to be.”—Weezer, rock band
Beverly Hills Cop features Eddie Murphy in his prime as an undercover cop from Detroit who, against the will of his boss, travels to Beverly Hills on “vacation” to solve the mystery of his friend’s recent murder. This movie is classified as a comedy because Murphy’s rough Detroit edges stick out like a sore thumb on the Golden Coast; he’s a fish-out-of-water.
All I could think about while watching Beverly Hills Cop was my introduction to Los Angeles as a fish-out-of-water from Kansas. Even though I had visited briefly for a family vacation in 2006, my grand entrance in 2009 happened in…Beverly Hills.
Let’s back up a bit. In 2008, an instructor at an art workshop I attended told me about a film competition she was involved with: the Intelligent Use of Water Film Competition. I decided to enter a short film that year about a young man (played by yours truly) named Dwayne Day who wastes water. My friends and family loved it, but between you and me, it was not my best. Not surprisingly, it didn’t get into the competition.
Then 2009 came. At the beginning of the year, I directed my magnum opus, Beowulf: The Killing of Grendel. Winter was the best time to make this because the snow and cold weather perfectly suited the Danish landscape. (Also, some friends were away in Washington and they let us film in their empty, rustic house.) But summer was usually when I had the most time on my hands, and since my annual short film was already completed by the time school let out, I had to find another project to occupy my precious free time. I decided to secretly make another entry for the IUOW Film Competition. After experimenting with several ideas, I decided it would be a music video with stop-motion shadow animation. I worked in between pool parties, graduations, weddings, and late into the night.
Honestly, I don’t even think my parents knew what I was up to until I came bursting in to their bedroom one night saying, “I’m going to LA!!! I’m going to Los Angeles, California!!!” I had just received my golden ticket in my Yahoo! inbox. My short film, The Saving Water Song, had been accepted into the competition. The Rain Bird Corporation was going to fly me to Los Angeles, where I would stay in a Luxe Hotel in Beverly Hills and attend an event at The Getty Center where my work would be screened with the other nominees.
I tried to blend in with the Angelenos, I really did. But when the hotel chauffeur picked up Mr. Keith Cantrell in his 101 Dalmatians t-shirt, plaid shorts, and nice brown shoes, it was immediately clear I was living in a fish-out-of-water story of my own.
Eight years later, I have returned to Los Angeles, and I am blending in a little better…although my definition of “blending in” on the West Coast changes daily. For instance, this morning I went to Vons in my pajamas and felt right at home, as if I was just wandering into my pantry to grab a few things for breakfast.
In between shifts at a theme park, I’m working on another animated short film. I get more and more devoted to the project as it nears completion. Maybe it will be my big break, but regardless, I’m excited to send something I’m proud of out into the world again! In the meanwhile, thank you for your understanding as I inevitably focus more attention on finishing my short film instead of cranking out blogs.
Oh, and The Saving Water Song won Audience Choice award at that competition! I remain proud of it to this day!