My best friend, Nicki, is in the final steps of earning her MFA in film from San Francisco State. The preparation for her thesis film, Woo Woo, has consumed her the past few months, and up until this point Nicki has done all the work herself. She has really impressed me—I know the amount of work that goes into a daily TV show and it has a staff of about 80 people—she is managing all the parts behind the scenes.
When she started her first year in the graduate program, she asked me if I would art-direct her thesis film. How could I refuse the opportunity to work with my best friend on a project that is the start of her career—I couldn't say no.
It's been fun so far, 1950s image researching, photographing locations, prop shopping at Brimfield flea market... The film takes place in Astoria, Queens, in the early 1960s—a period piece is more challenging then you might think. It is quite difficult to find furniture from that time that is NOT retro or that doesn't have a Danish modern feel. The family isn't 1950s Rockabilly or Lone Ranger style, the mother isn't wearing poodle skirts or cat-eye glasses, the film will not be like a scene out of Madmen or even Leave it to Beaver. The goal is to create something nostalgic and paint a picture of a time that no longer exists of a working class, religious, immigrant family living in the bustling city though one hot summer.
Here's a brief synopsis of the film and some of my photo inspiration...
Woo Woo tells the story of a young girl and her relationship to a brain-damaged war veteran. Woo Woo, the war veteran, lost his ability to communicate after World War I. He now wanders the streets repeating "woo woo" to himself. The neighborhood children mock him. When the little girl's older sister makes up a story about Woo Woo's past, she becomes terrified of him. Her fear only heightens her curiosity as she begins to watch him from her window.
The first handmade prop I've made is an embroidered Irish Blessing that will hang on the wall where the family gathers for meals.