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The longer I live here, the clearer one thing becomes: Lost Angeles is a city that LOVES to party. Any excuse to roll out a red carpet or invite a bunch of folks over for no apparent reason is a good excuse. And that's a good thing considering the incredible amount of time we spend isolated from each other in our cars. There's always something interesting going on . . .

1. Party with the dead

Every summer hundreds of Angelenos grab their blankets, beach chairs, and even the back seats of their cars and head to 6000 Santa Monica Boulevard. They come well equipped with pizzas, coolers, and overflowing picnic baskets. (And in case you forget to bring something, you can buy rice crispy treats and giant cookies when you get there.) Then they wait very patiently in a long line, pay $10 each, and march boisterously into the gates of the Hollywood Forever Cemetery which is adjacent to the back wall of Paramount Studios. (Some even drive their cars inside.) Kenny invited me to a birthday party one of his friends was throwing. She grilled burgers for us, margaritas were poured, and then we joined the throng at the cemetery for a screening of Pretty in Pink. It was a surprisingly attentive crowd. Even the 4-year old next to me was busy watching the movie and not talking.

The cemetery is beautiful. You can visit the graves of Bugsy Siegel, Johnny Ramone, and the recently interred Estelle Getty. They even have a spot for me! (see photo)

2. More film festivals . . . and a lesson or two about attending them

A new festival called the Downtown Film Festival appeared this month. So I took Kenny's expert advice and bought tickets for the opening night gala event. The featured film, In Search of a Midnight Kiss, was an inspiring example of bootstrapping. Basically, friends worked together to write and produce a feature-length film that now has distribution. Here's the trailer: http://www.dffla.com/films_trailer_insearchofamidnightkiss.html

Yay for them! It really can be done and emphasized (yet again) the point that my coach Craig keeps trying to hammer into our heads: create your own material. Just think of all the famous people who made it when then did their own thing--Sylvester, Matt and Ben, insert any stand-up comedian/comedienne. So that's lesson number one. Lesson number two is get to the after-party early! My friend Wai and I were starving and decided to have some sushi before we went. When we returned, it was so crowed that we weren't allowed inside. And my manager Joy says it was rockin'. Oh well. There's always another one . . .

The second festival I attended was the Los Angeles International Short Film Festival. I was fortunate enough to have a film in the festival this time. It was a short that I did a couple of years ago called Crusher. (I play a woman who gets strangled at the end. Lots of fun!) The director, Nathan Catucci, flew out from New York for the screening. It was great to see him. Not only did our film have a great screening time, but most of the films screened with ours were very well done. The festival's featured artist this year was writer/director Shane Black who was presented the 2008 Maverick Filmmaker Award. He is probably most famous for Lethal Weapon and is considered one of the pioneers of the action genre. So, since I learned my lesson, Nate and I went straight to the after-party with no sushi detour. Shane saw us and made his way over:

Shane (to me): Hi. Did I see you in a film recently?
Berda: Uh . . .
Shane: I thought I saw you in a movie where you get burned to death in a metal box.
Berda: Sounds like fun but it wasn't me. However, I'm in THIS movie.  (I give him a copy of Crusher)
Shane (looking at the back cover of the DVD case): Wow. That's real lighting.
Nate: Yeah. We tried to make it look like an Edward Hopper painting.
Shane: Cool. Can I keep this?
Nate: Yeah.

So Shane Black has/had a copy of Crusher.

Festival number three (see what I mean?) was VisionFest put on by The Filmmakers Alliance. Since I'm a member, I volunteered to set up and break down the event. The great thing about VisionFest is that it happens in one night. I think it's designed that way to force everyone to actually watch the films at the end of the awards ceremony. Too often, people just come for the after-party so they can network and eat and they completely avoid what the festival's really about--the films! So it's a good reminder of why we're here. The films were beautiful! And I'm happy to say that one of Carlo's films was screened--Putting Out a Cigarette with Your Feet. Congrats Carlo! It's a great short! This year the award was given to Kevin Smith, the writer/director of Clerks. He gave us a great stand-up routine.

3. Full moon extravaganza

And as always, the rich are having their private parties all around Lost Angeles and indeed the whole of state California. One of the more interesting events that I catered this month was a Full Moon Party held in Santa Barbara. Originally, I was miffed that I had to drive 2 hours out of my way to get to work but the drive was beautiful. The party was held on a plot of land that was designed to look like a ranch but was devoid of  livestock except for two immaculately groomed donkeys. ?  The house was rustic, ranch-style on the outside, deluxe on the inside (of course), and right on the edge of the cliff overlooking the ocean. The host and hostess were dressed in white as were their guests--all eighteen of them. And the menu was basically all white too--corn soup, pasta, fish with pototoes, a cheese plate, champangne, and white wine. The only splashes of color were the chocolate desserts served with port. There wasn't a hint of green anywhere except for the frisee garnishing the cheese plate. Unfortunately, the fog rolled in that night so the full moon wasn't visible at all. There was so much fog, in fact, that we could barely hear the ocean even though were were serving them outside. We couldn't see it either. We just saw the edge of the cliff and then blackness . . . like the end of the earth.

4. To protect, serve, and maybe more . . .

After a delightful raw food dinner with Wai at great place called Cru (http://www.crusilverlake.com/), I got in my car and was looking at my map to figure out how to get to the Valley to practice with my scene partner. I noticed two of LA's finest had stopped a guy and were questioning him across the street from me. I thought nothing of it until one of the officers walked over to me. I rolled down the window:

Officer: Hello.
Berda: Hello.
Officer: This guy says he knows you so I thought I'd come over and check. Do you know this guy?
Berda: Nope.
Officer: So how's your day going?
Berda: Uh . . . fine. How's your day going?
Officer: Fine.
(pause)
Berda: Can I ask you something, officer?
Officer (expetantly): Yes?
Berda: How do I get to the 101 freeway from here.
Officer: Oh . . .

He told me. But Wai's directions were better so I followed hers.

5. I MISS NEW YORK!

Even though I'm collecting New Yorkers as friends, I really, really miss New York this month. Fortunately, my friend Jan came to visit. She stayed with her mom in Santa Monica so I drove out for the day. We had a blast. I'm almost ashamed to mention that I've never had a corn dog until Jan took me to the famous Hot Dog on a Stick stand right by the Santa Monica Pier. They're really fantastic! Then we went to the pier where we rode the ferris wheel, were defeated by a giant funnel cake (I'd never had one of those before either), searched for beach glass at low tide, and played games at the arcade, and had our fortunes told by Esmeralda the mechanical fortune teller. Then we had a fantastic dinner at a place called Pearl Dragon. (Whoever says New Yorkers (or people who choose New York as their home) aren't the best people in the world is crazy. It was great to see you Jan!!! Thanks for reminding me of home.
Well, everyone, please let me know how you are and what you're up to.
 

6. And congratulations to Jack who BOOKED A NATIONAL COMMERCIAL!!! Onward and upward my friend!

Cheers!
B



 Should have gotten a better picture. It says "Gilmore."

Party at the cemetery

Jan sporting her scorpion ring arcade prize

Waiting to get on the ferris wheel

On the ferris wheel

Wai during a jaunt to The Valley where we a) witnessed a drug deal and then b) had great vegan Vietnamese food

Nate and his mom after Crusher