WAIT. WHAT? DID I JUST SEE THAT CORRECTLY?
On Feburary 10th, I drove out to Joshua Tree National Park with two of my friends, Eddie Furth and Kayla Pavia. [You can view that page and those images here: Joshua Tree.] We're a trio of sorts, calling ourselves the Mod Squad, but then realizing that's not quite original enough/at all. We have yet to explore new names...
Anyhow, we each hail from Stamford, Connecticut and fate and life have had us come to Los Angeles, CA to explore our talents, chase our dreams and create new lives. We keep each other in orbit from time to time as LA can be...well...LA. In late January, Eddie, sent me a text alluding to the idea that we were overdue for an adventure/excursion. A few mornings later, I posted to Facebook, tagging both Eddie and Kayla in a post saying:
Eddie Furth, your text from yesterday beat me to the punch. I definitely think that you, me, and Kayla Pavia need to go on a great hike soon. Let's make a whole day of it though, let's go all out. Let's California this thing, go somewhere that it takes about an hour or two to drive to, and bring food and all of that.
If we do it right, we should end up with a picture of us that looks something like this:
I followed it up with a couple of hashtags:
That image I referred to was a screenshot from the film, "Wish I Was Here." [that image is copyright Zach Braff, or Focus Features, Worldview Entertainment, or Double Feature Films: whomever it needs to be credited to. I'm not looking to get sued.]
In 2014, Zach Braff (director of Garden State, JD from Scrubs) made a fantastically sweet film, "Wish I Was Here." It's a love letter to Southern California, shot primarily in LA County. In the film, Braff's character is a struggling father, son and actor. There is a sequence/scene where he decides to escape Los Angeles and his problems for a day. He takes his children out to the desert where they camp and bond in the sweetest way.
They arrive to a desert campground, just before sunset, and Zach's character takes his children to "the spot." When he was younger, he had a spiritual moment, an awakening in this particular part of the desert and he wanted to share that with his kids. The kids don't fully understand, but they go along with it. They stand on rocks overlooking the sunset. They all outstretch their arms, taking in the wind and ZB's character exclaims, "This is it!" As in, this is the place where he first felt "it." It was the place where he first had the epiphany to pursue a career in acting.
The image I included in the Facebook post to Eddie and Kayla, the image just above, is from that sunset desert scene, just before (or maybe after) they stand with their arms out. They are silhouetted beautifully, the warm colors surrounding them. I never forgot that image.
I knew that Kayla was a big fan of that movie, and I knew including that image in the Facebook post would resonate with her. As we embarked on our journey to Joshua Tree, we actually embraced the idea of recreating that image. We started to make it a conscious goal: find rocks, find the sunset, and pay homage to the image from Wish I Was Here.
We spent a few fun hours in the desert, climbing the rocks and goofing around. As the sun began to set, the image became a priority. My friends graciously put it on my shoulders to find the right spot for the silhouettes (great, no pressure). We wandered and wandered and eventually found ourselves near the Barker Dam Trail. We captured a few fun moments but then it was clear that sun was setting. We needed a location, quickly. As the pressure mounted and the playful ribbing ensued (I forgot to mention that Kayla and Eddie are both comedians), we, and by "we" I mean, "I," almost fell apart, but Eddie was eventually our champion. He found a certain rock and turned asking, "how about here?"
He turned to capture the sun with his cell phone. A few yards behind him, I took a test shot to see if it would work...
We had the spot, now it was time to block it:
Naturally, I needed to be in the shot with them, so I set up my tripod. What followed was a very OCD and exhausting moment for me. Note to self: finally slow down and do your homework on a proper radio trigger for your DSLRs... The remote trigger I had with me was not strong enough to fire the D90 from the distance between the tripod and the rock (about 10 yards). So yes, I set a timer on the D90 itself and ran from the tripod to atop the rock along side my friends.
Perfectionism kicks in when I shoot. It just does. There's a trigger inside that says when it's right or when it's not. There's also a greed factor when I shoot as well, if something's working, I want to get it more and more because it feels great when a moment, color, lighting, etc, come together in that magical way. This was one of those OCD/perfectionist/magic moments. We grabbed a few different variations of us silhouetted on the rock:
but in the end, we made sure to mimic the image from Wish I Was Here. Arms stretched out, paying homage to the sun:
I felt great knowing that we accomplished a visual goal for the day, not to mention had a great time bonding and fun road trip. We made a nighttime drive back to Los Angeles. It was nearly midnight, by the time I got back to my apartment. I was exhausted, but wanted to share a few images from the day. I posted a two shots of me, Eddie and Kayla hiking, and figured that was enough. Proof we had a cool day. But then, as spirituality goes at times, I felt like twinge and pull to go for broke and post the best image from the day, our goal from the day: the sunset silhouette copycat image.
I created a post:
In case you can't make it all out or read it (this site is exclusively designed for your desktop computer. I was tired of fighting the fight of making sure a site is perfect for both mobile and desktop. Desktop it is..), the post reads:
"This is it!"
Zach Braff inspired us a little bit yesterday:
I actually tagged Zach Braff's Facebook page in it, just thinking it was the right thing to do to give him credit. I included a few hashtags related to the film and scene the image was from. Then I went to bed.
I woke up the next day, and I've mentioned it a few other times, I did a little Uber driving. I was out for a couple of hours that day, but then the fatigue of the previous day and all that driving started to set in. I went back to my apartment and fell asleep at the awkward time of 6:00PM. Of course, I woke up at around midnight and had no day left, no work to really do. Awkward. So, what else, I went to Facebook.
I was blurry eyed. You know that groggy feeling when you first wake up, and you know that hazy feeling when you turn on a bright light in the midst of that grossy feeling? Argh. Cave person seeing the sun for the first time. My eyes...
My computer screen was the sun in this scenario. Through the blur I could see that I had three new notifications. (For an addict like me, that's exciting considering I had zero notifications just 20 seconds ago...)
The top notification was that my classmate from high school, Stephanie, had tagged me in a comment. Okay cool. I clicked. Again, through the blur I could see that she wrote, "Mallury Patrick Pollard, you're famous!"
What? I didn't get it. It started to come into view. I noticed the comment was below what looked like my image from the other night, the Joshua Tree sunset photo of me, Eddie and Kayla. Then I really saw what was happening. I saw Zach Braff's name. I fumbled around and went back to see my two other notifications:
WAIT. WHAT? DID I JUST SEE THAT CORRECTLY?
Yes. I was not imagining things; Zach Braff himself liked and shared our image, our homage to his film, on his own Facebook wall. Too cool.
This was a big deal to me and cool moment because I've been a Zach Braff fan for a long time. I remember my senior year of high school when I started to watch this new sit-com about doctors called, "Scrubs." It was my go-to television show along with Friends and ER (NBC had me hooked). I was an architecture student with a large course load and tons of studio design work to do most weeks. My college classmates would tease me when I left our design studio early on Thursday nights just because I needed to watch my shows.
I certainly remember his debut indy film, "Garden State," where he showed great range in his acting, but also in his writing and directorial skills, not to mention his ability to compile an awesome soundtrack. Over the years of following Scrubs, I read that he started to contribute/consult the show when it came to selecting songs for episodes. Artists like Joshua Radin and Cary Brothers could be heard regularly on Scrubs, and not a coincidence, those artists are personal friends of Zach Braff.
There used to be a time on Facebook when, in your About section, there was a prompt for you to share your "Favorite Music." You could just type a few words to describe what your musical tastes. Now, it's finding your favorite band's page and liking it, and then that shows up on your profile. But when it was the old format, I remember my response. Favorite Music: If Zach Braff likes it, I like it.
What can I say, I was a fan. I'm still a fan. He's a cool artist. By no means did I have a sheltered childhood, but I often realize that my appreciation for pop culture and music honestly started during college, and Zach Braff is one of those artists who shaped some of my appreciation for music and film. I identify with his creative view of the world, his style, if you will. He's an artist that I look up to, for sure.
Absolutely honored that going out to the desert and creating that image resulted in a quick internet fist bump with him. I'm honored that he noticed it.