California is a place. Stories from the Golden State

California
California

SeguoCalifornia is a placeda qualche mese ormai. E' un progetto realizzato da due ragazzi californiani, Drea Cooper e Zackary Canepari, che cercano di raccontare la California per quello che è, per quello che si vede. Non per preconcetti, non per luoghi comuni, ma solo la vita reale, di strada, di tutti.

Raccontano storie. Storie di una terra molto simile all'Italia che forse detiene il numero maggiore di record negativi nella storia degli Stati del mondo, ma che se sai rispettare e amare, ha la capacità di rapirti. A me è successo. Se volete saperne di più qui qualche domanda scambiata con Zack e Drea.

ps. Zack, nella sua email mi ha scritto che mi propone di far scambio di residenza. Forse come dice mio padre, "L'America" è proprio qui.

1. How did the idea for California Is A Place come about?

It's just a sentence:  California is a place. Drea and I had talked about working on a project together for a long time but we're never in the same place long enough to get something going.  On a whim, we decided to drive down to Fresno for a few days and shoot the pool skaters from our film Cannonball.  About three weeks later Drea sent me the first draft of the edit.  We were both super excited and immediately starting discussing what we were going to do next and how these films would be presented.  9 months later, the site went live with our first four films.

2. Did this project partly come about from disappointment or frustration about how California is often depicted? If not, do you have particular films you feel got California wrong or got California right that have motivated your work?

Not exactly frustration. But we definitly had a feeling that the Midwest and the South were being depicted as places at the heart of storytelling in America, especially in the last two years, with the economy in free-fall. It just felt like a lot of attention was being paid to those areas and the west and California in particular was only being represented as a budget crisis or a political debate. There just wasn't anything intimate or personal about those representations. It all felt very "newsy."  From the beginning, we wanted to look at subjects and issues that have value in the greater discussion but we wanted our individual characters to drive the stories.  Once we locked in on the Fresno foreclosure/skater story, the foundation was there to find as many stories as we could.

3. When did you start to make movies?

Drea:

I started making films in high school but mostly ridiculous comedy sketches.  Then I went off to University and studied philosophy and got into photography in my spare time.  I traveled to India for a year and took my grandpa’s camera, which had a broken light meter, so it was a real experiment in exposure.  It wasn’t until 2000 when Final Cut Pro v.1 had come out and I started messing around with editing and new this was something I really enjoyed.

Zack:

I took a summer course at NYU for filmmaking when I was at University.  16mm cut-and-paste stuff.  My film was about a guy who's arch-nemesis kills his girlfriend.  It was a revenge genre flick.  Not my best work.  I didn't make another film for 7 years.  That one was a horror-thriller.  I won't even tell you that story.  It's no wonder that still photography has been my bread-and-butter for so long.  My past filmmaking history is a bit sketchy...

4. What is California to you?

Oh man, another unfair question! Ok. California is loaded. From Disneyland to farmland, we’ve got Scientology and superstars, Silicon and silicone, crips and bloods. The border. Krumpin’ Clownin’ Jerkin’. The surf and the turf. The boom and the bust. California is humanity run amuck and then packaged, branded and sold. California Cuisine, California Love, California Casual, California Gold, California Girls, and of course, California Dreams. If it exists in the world, it exists here and it does so with pizzaz. Simply put, California is sensational. We love this place!

5. What other stories are on the horizon?

We've got a few stories that we are super excited about but it's too early in the developmental stages to divulge.  We've got to maintain some of the mystery...  However, we do have another film ready to go that we're posting next week, after the holiday.  Stay tuned....

LifeAndrea Contino