Monday, March 30, 2009

Westwood Medical - A Year in Posters

The Westwood Medical building sits on the corner of Wilshire and Gayley at the end or the beginning of a long stretch of high-rise office and apartment buildings that run along Wilshire until they give way to the two-storey hedges that guard the Los Angeles Country Club. The face of this building is prime real estate and apparently owned by Disney.

When I first came to L.A. 10 months ago I found on its fa├žade a giant poster for the movie Underdog. Underdog was released on August 3, 2007. For that caliber of movie, I’d say the advertisement was posted between four and six weeks before it was released, meaning that the poster hung on the side of Westwood Medical for nearly a year (circa mid-June until the end of May).

As if to quell my indignation at such a waste of good space, a Wall-E poster swooped in to replace Underdog before my first weekend here had passed. They couldn’t have done better. Wall-E is not even my favorite Pixar movie, but it’s up there, and it had been a great source of motivation and cure for writer’s block throughout my last semester at Oklahoma. Though the dream has faded and transformed over the last year, a large block of my life was spent dreaming of one day working for Pixar. That first Wall-E trailer began with Andrew Stanton narrating the events of a meeting between founding fathers, wherein they discussed the future of the studio and brainstormed the ideas that would become a string of the best movies of the last decade and a half. This, as much as the beautiful and intriguing Wall-E footage itself, inspired me again and again and again to beat my head against the wall when it felt completely devoid of any good idea.

That screenplay (conceived for animation) was 75-pages long when I moved to L.A. The plan was to work on it everyday, have it done in three months, and turned in to my producer with a month left on my internship. (This producer, incidentally, happens to be very well connected at Disney. A framed memo from Jeffrey Katzenberg, written as a fond farewell, hangs in his bathroom. In it, Katzenberg jokes about the monumental failure Newsies, advises him to seek out George Lucas and ILM for help with “being in two places at once,” and ends by telling him to “always keep [his] pager on.”) Those early months were hard fought, and each page I wrote seemed to push completion further away.

Having exhausted the Wall-E trailer, I turned to that giant poster for inspiration. I thought to myself that one day it would be my film’s poster on the side of that building. The internship was in Malibu, and it was a long drive home, but there is a hill on Wilshire Blvd. between San Vicente and the 405. It was at the crest of that hill that I was first able to catch a glimpse of the poster, and each night I felt that it was calling me home, the gate to Westwood village and the inspiration for that night’s writing.

I hoped that Wall-E would enjoy as long a berth as Underdog, but weeks after the release of the movie, it was replace by Swing Vote. As seen here from the Getty.

After that, it became High School Musical 3, then Bedtime Stories, Confessions of a Shopaholic, and Race to Witch Mountain. Basically, turd after turd after turd. Then, a great thing happened this weekend:

I’m not half as excited for Up as I was for Wall-E, but I’m definitely glad to see it up there. I will have officially been out here a year and six days by the time Up releases. Way to be on the cyclical structure, life.

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