Stick around after the blog for a special preview of the latest work from Maria Mealla!
My wife and I had a beautiful love affair on our way to the altar. We were both passionate romantics, living and loving with audacious enthusiasm in the world's greatest city: San Francisco, California.
On top of that, we both were (and remain) artists and storytellers.
While we were dating, we came up with an idea for a show and it turned into a script shortly after we moved in together. We spent our nights drinking wine on the floor of the living room we now shared (before we could afford a couch) and patching together stories, characters, and places we found along the way.
Eventually, it all came together in a web-series which we called The Push Hard Inn.
PHI was a fun little sitcom; 4 characters cobbled together from our mutual imaginations, playing out scenes any San Franciscan in the time of Twitter could relate to.
Looking back on PHI now is a welcome walk down memory lane. It helps me to gain perspective; to understand how far we've come and how far we've still got left to go.
These are my biggest take-aways from the Push Hard Inn, the zero-budget web-series which I wrote and produced in the midst of a wild romance with the woman who would become my wife:
It was our first collaboration
As the millennium entered it's second decade (what do you call that? The two-thousand tens? The twenty-teens?) Maria and I were both living every second of life in San Francisco. I had come here from Boston, she from Bolivia, and we'd both been kicking around Frisco for long enough to know all the best dark alleys. We were young, sexy, and full of enthusiasm and we didn't leave anything on the table.
We wrote PHI right around the time we started turning into early-birds, which is now an ironclad fact of life. I go to bed at midnight, every night. At first, Maria made me. But now, she can't stop me. Just check out the hashtag #bopicksthemovies on Instagram if you don't believe me.
Writing PHI became our first opportunity to look back on life together. It was the first time that we both allowed ourselves to be nostalgic for the lives we lead before each other.
Writing it was fun, but sometimes intense. We fought about it a few times. We were learning how to collaborate with one another artistically while simultaneously merging our entire lives. It was a lesson in communication which helped shape our mutual artistic process--and our relationship-- to this day.
Ultimately, we came together on a story which we were both proud of. We assembled a team of artists and craftsmen who were devoted to their process and our project. We filled the screen with our friends and told stories about all of us, and all the fun we had together.
It's a vision of our future
Whenever I go back and re-watch PHI, I feel like I can gauge the distance between then-- when we made it-- and now. Then I can take that measure and look at it the other way, to figure out the distance between now and then-- the near future of our artistic life together.
This is particularly relevant these days as now Maria is preparing for the most significant artistic undertaking of her career-- her second feature film (stick around for more info about that after the blog). It's hard to imagine what life will be like after Bring Me An Avocado, but reflecting back on life before The Push Hard Inn helps a bit.
A lot of the same names and faces show up throughout Maria's early filmography, and that trend is likely to continue. She has always had a knack for putting her faith in the right people, holding them close, and deserving their loyalty. She bets on the right people early, and sticks with them long enough to see them go from underdogs to undisputed champions.
PHI also has a look and feel that have stuck around throughout Maria's evolution as a filmmaker, and the writing reflects the frenetic energy of our writing process. Though it's just 3 episodes, it has a unique spirit and it is worthy of a spot in a very respectable filmography.
It's not quite finished.
We left a little footage in the can, sadly.
We wrote this beautiful finale, but it was too much. It was a beautiful story that was going to feature inter-weaving narratives that ultimately come together to reveal the true essence of the show. Love stories started emerging and our characters all started to wonder aloud about their future.
While the story may have been lovely, it was unrealistic in scale. It required multiple shoot days and extensive editing, and it started to overlap with new projects. We over reached and at a certain point, we had to make the decision to move on.
We were making spirited little short films at a time when the format heavily favored six-second storytelling. We weren't even sure what a web-series was or what to do with one, so we treated these more like short films and sent them through a few festivals.
In the process, we learned a lot about the format, with all of it's potential and pitfalls. We met a lot of great creators too, and a lot of them have produced profound works of storytelling in the format. Some have grown and moved on to new formats; some have stuck with web-series and seen the format grow with them.
I watch these videos sometimes and it's like finding an old note pad in which I had written down a dream right after waking up. As I read the note, I can remember just what it was like in that moment that I wrote it -- when I was living between two realities. And I can't remember how the dream ends or what I did after I woke up, but I can remember how I felt in that moment. That's how PHI is too. A memory of a dream I had.
Sometimes-- when I'm laying in bed, dozing off, holding hands with my wife-- I hope I have that dream again so I can see how it ends.
Get on board with Bring Me An Avocado
After PHI, Maria shifted gears and throttled up in the film making business. She wrote and directed a few short films, explored the myriad corners of the industry as a freelancer, and steadily kept working on a feature script.
Gavin Murray is a cinematographer and a frequent collaborator. After reading an early draft of the script, he bonded with it. He latched onto the story and started visualizing shots. His energy was infectious and Maria suddenly started imagining a future for the project as well. The 2 of them on-boarded a few more core team members, and the future which Maria had imagined suddenly started to become real.
Bring Me An Avocado is currently crowdfunding on Seed & Spark, and participating in the Hometown Heroes Rally, sponsored by the Duplass Brothers. We need as many "FOLLOW"s as we can get. If you want to see what comes next in this creative oeuvre, click the link and FOLLOW the campaign. It's quick, easy, and doesn't cost anything.
And if you want to get even more involved, check out the perks or share the link with your friends and followers on social media. This is a special project with a bright future, and now is the time to become a part of it.