Exciting new announcement
Happy Wednesday everyone!
I woke up today and realized that I hit the road in exactly 3 weeks. To say I am excited would be the understatement of the year. I am happy to report that my stress level is far lower than I had anticipated. Although, I did have dreams about killing bunnies and my teeth falling out last night, which may or may not indicate stress depending on how you analyze dreams. Weirdo dreams aside, things seem to be coming together magically. Just a few more photo session that I had booked ages ago, one monumental goodbye to my 20's and a beach wedding then, I am outta here!
In anticipation for making my life as smooth as possible on the road, I have been trying to think ahead and prep as much stuff as possible before I leave. Today I am working on addressing postcards and envelopes for all of you who will be getting your rewards during my trip! Don't worry though, no filling out the postcard commentary until I am in the full swing of my travels and I have some fun stories to share with all of you.
I am hitting the road in a month and 3 days! As I am prepping for everything I am coming to the realization of how long I am going to be in the car and the current selection on my ipod just isn't gonna cut it. I like hearing new things and I am pretty open to a wide variety of music. So.......send me a mix pretty please!
And to make things extra easy, you don't even have to burn a CD and send it in the mail, just send it to me via dropbox.com! Just share it with firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks in advance!
I am really excited to report that I officially have a road trip buddy for this half of the trip! My friend Noaa announced that he was moving from Oakland to New York City and I was able to convince him to drive out with me. Noaa is also a photographer which means that he will be a great assistant and will fully understand when I abruptly stop in the middle of nowhere to photograph some random bit of awesome that might catch my eye.
After looking at lots of maps, drinking way to much coffee, and taking a few really great skating breaks to clear my head, I am happy to report that the final itinerary for the trip is coming together! I have decided to break it down into three sections. Portland to Brooklyn, the East Coast, and then my trip back West. So, here is the Portland to Brooklyn trip! It will take us a month to get there!
With so many moving pieces it was becoming really overwhelming trying to plan out the entire trip. Coordinating schedules of people we can stay with, being in the right locations on the weekends to photograph operational theaters and giving ourself enough time to really capture each place before moving on. I won't lie, it was stressing me out a bit. Every time I would talk to a friend they would ask about the itinerary and I would just kind of laugh and say, "I'll figure it out before I leave." It feel really good to have one section done!
If you have a place for us to stay along the way or something amazing that we must see...or better yet you know of an amazing swimming hole please let me know! Man, I am already day dreaming about all the swimming.
This is my view today! A combination of Honda's Project Drive-In map for a better view of operational drive-in theaters. My map on roadtrippers.com, of abandoned theaters, and my new map that hopefully includes me picking up my first travel buddy in Oakland! As I have said before, I am trying not to create an overly ridged timeline so I can allow myself the time needed to capture the perfect shots at each drive-in theater that I visit. I will need a bit of a planning though since I am will be breaking my trips off into a few "hubs" as I have been calling them. These will be cities that I know I have a place to stay for a bit of time that I will be using as my home base and then visiting all the drive-in theaters within a few hours distance before moving on to the next hub.
I have a few other things to consider as I plan my trip. Things like the fact that many operational theaters are only open Friday-Sunday. Also, and this might sound kind of nerdy, tracking where I will be during the full moon. A full moon offers the best possibly lighting for night time photograph and can help to create an amazing and dramatic atmosphere so I want to be sure that I am at specific locations during these nights.
Time to go put on another pot of coffee! It is going to be a long day but I am really excited to start nailing some of this down more so I can start calling friends and telling them when I will be seeing them!
It has almost been a week since the Kickstarter project was funded. I am still in complete awe of how we all pulled together to reach our goal! I can't express my gratitude enough to all of you who donated and shared the project. Now onto the planning!
There are some really exciting things in the works. As soon as I can, I promise, I will share them with all of you. Until then though, I have lots of hours to spend in front of the computer as I move forward. The first step in finalizing my itinerary, so keep your eyes open in the next week or two to see when I might be visiting a drive-in theater near you! I am still open to suggestions so please, send them my way. In the mean time, I don't know about the rest of you, but the weather in Portland has been amazing. If you can, pack up your blankets and go see a movie at your closest drive-in. It will be an experience that will last you a life time.
Also, if you are interested in more ways to help save drive-in theaters, I suggest you check out Honda's Project Drive-In campaign. They are on a mission to save as many drive-in theaters as possible and they could use all of our help. Just as it took a community to help me move this project forward, it will take a community banding together to help keep these American icons around for future generations!
Damn, these last few weeks have been insane. Aside from the Kickstarter which in and of itself is a full time job (and has 8 days left to make my goal), I have been doing a ton of freelance work. No complaints here, but I haven't had much time to share some of the great things that have been happening.
As part of my Kickstarter promotion, I have been contacting various blogs, businesses, and drive-in owners all over. From the months of research I did prior to launching my campaign, I learned that most of what can make or break you is really getting your project out there in front of as many people as possible. This was a great way to get myself out from behind the safety of the internet and actually start making human connections so I could partner up with people who do amazing things that I admire.
Over the last few weeks I have had met some amazing people over email and phone calls and I am so excited to hopefully be meeting many of them in person when I am on the road! Let me introduce you to some of their great work:
*C.C. at Drive-In Film Festival which is a Brooklyn based non profit that works hard to bring new independent films to drive-in theaters free of charge. C.C. and I chatted on the phone the other week and hit it off as if we were old friends. It is always exciting when you find someone who as excited as you are about drive-ins. I can't wait for our paths to cross!
*Jessica at Chronically Vintage runs an amazing blog dedicated to all things vintage. She has a wonderful eye for style and brings an entire range of all things vintage. Today she was kind enough to include my Kickstarter in her links to check out for April.
*Kipp at Drive-ins.com has put together such a great resource of information from drive-in theaters all over the country! I am really excited to help him update some of the images on his website as I make my journey!
*Josh, owner of Blue Starlite Drive-In located in Austin, TX has created an authentic urban drive-in with window speakers and all! I am going to be visiting the Blue Starlite on my trip and I am ridiculously excited about the speakers. I'm a dork, I know.
*Sasha at Tattooed Martha operates a cooking, crafts, and personal blog. Her drink and food recipes make me drool on a regular basis. While I know Sasha in person and have the pleasure of working with her regularly and calling her a friend, she deserves mention here for being so positive and supportive through this crazy process.
For those who don't know, I am in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign where I am raising funds to travel the country and photograph as many drive in theaters as I can. Almost to the halfway point of the Kickstarter campaign and 15 days left to go but I am already starting to photograph theaters near me! Please click here if you are interested in donating!
Last Sunday I made the 45 minute trip from Portland to Newberg so I could enjoy a movie and go take some photographs at the drive-in. 99W Drive-In is the closest operational drive-in to me and we can all thank Honda's Project Drive-In for it still being there! Less than a year ago the theater was facing closure if they weren't able to come up with $80,000 to buy a new digital project since the film industries conversion to an all digital format. Not being able to show new blockbuster movies can often mean less cars in the lot. Luckily, 99W is one of 10 theaters that Honda's Project Drive-In has saved so far!
With it being Easter the lot was pretty sparse but owner Brian Francis told me that on Friday the place had been packed. As amazing as a full drive-in lot would have been for mingling and getting to talk to movie goers, it worked out well that it was a little on the slow side because that meant Brian actually had some free time. He was amazingly generous and gave me the grand tour, showing me all the old film projectors and the fancy new digital projector. While the movie he was showing was on digital, he still uses film for all the old fun intermission videos. Brian was a wealth of information about not just the history of 99W Drive-In but also drive-in theaters around the country. I obviously am approaching this project as an outsider. A movie goer not an owner so it was facinating to here about it from a different perspective.
Brian is the 3rd generation in his family to run this particular drive-in theater. His Grandfather opened it up in 1953. Brian told me stories of how he grew up in a house right next to the lot and he would watch the movies on the big screen from his bedroom window. How amazing would that be? I also go the chance to meet Al, who was running the ticket booth and was an attendee for the very first movie showing Brian's Grandfather had there. Talk about some amazing history!
I can't express how grateful I am to Brian for being so open with me and giving me first class treatment while I was there. It was really eye opening and an inspiring lesson for some of the adventures I will be heading into in just a few short months. If you live driving distance from Newberg, I recommend going and checking out a film. Brian is talking about possibly showing the original Godzilla there next week!
I knew going into this Kickstarter that it was going to be an amazing lesson in gratitude and community. You can't create a project and have any hopes of success without the love and support of those close to you. You put it out into the world but it is your friends and family that spread the word beyond your reach. When I say I couldn't do this without your support, it isn't an exaggeration. It is the honest truth.
What has been so amazing though is not just the support from those that I talk to regularly (don't get me wrong that has been overwhelming and humbling) but those I haven't seen or spoken to in years. With the internet we are all so connected but how many times do you actually comment or reach out to that old high school buddy, or relative you haven't seen years, or friend you just lost touch with as you aged.
So many of these people have come out to pledge their support of what I am doing. I have reconnected with a number of people and it feels so amazing to not just scroll through their Facebook or Instagram posts and gather what is going on but to actually connect again. Best of all, since my project involves a huge road trip around the country, I am also making plans to see many of these people as I pass through their cities on my trip.
So today, I am feeling grateful for all of you out there near and far. Who I talk to everyday or who I haven't seen in years. Cue cheese part....because knowing each of you has helped bring me to where I am today.
What a crazy 5 days it has been since the Kickstarter launched. I am happy to report that we are 25% of the way towards our goal already! I am so thankful for everyone out there who has donated and shared the project. It is such an amazing thing to be creating something that each of you is now a part of. It isn't my project, it is our project! So keep sharing and lets keep the donations rolling in.
I have always loved Kickstarter but now that I am on the other end of it running a project, I love it even more. Before even hitting the road, it has allowed me the opportunity to meet and team up with other amazing and creative individuals such as Kelly from Best Road Trip Ever. I discovered the Best Road Trip Ever app during a search for ways to get the most out of my iPhone while on this trip. It is a great app for finding amazing sites to see all over the country and her blog is equally as inspiring.
After and amazing phone conversation a few weeks back, Kelly and I have decided to team up! I will be helping her add more drive-in theater locations to her app which is really exciting!
Check out her website here, and you can see her most recent blog is a guest post by yours truly!
I am so excited to announce that my Kickstarter campaign for Drive-In America is now live! I have 30 days to raise $5,000! Please check it out and share with has many people as you possibly can. The more people I reach, the better chance I have of reaching my goal. Thank you for all of your support!
Planning for the trip is moving along so quickly. Today my Kickstarter video is being finalized and I will be submitting the project for approval tomorrow. I must admit, the closer this all gets to becoming a reality, the more excited and nervous I get.
Here is the final image from my photo shoot a few weeks ago at the 104th St. Drive-In located here in Portland, OR where we also did some of the filming for my Kickstarter video. I have visited this abandoned sign several times trying to figure out the perfect way to photograph it. The sign it self is pretty amazing but being right next to a busy road and a bunch of warehouses, I wasn't overly inspired by the rest of the setting. And then, I remembered how we used to sneak extra people into the drive-in theater as a kid. Hiding out in the trunk and then popping out for the movie. Looking, back that maybe wasn't the most honest thing and we probably could have just paid the extra few bucks but that's not my point here. I wanted to recreate that feeling with this photograph.
Fun fact, if you missed my last blog post, the screen from this abandoned theater was donated to 99W Drive-In located in Newberg, OR after their screen had been badly damaged by a storm.
Last night I made my second trip out to 104th St. Drive-In here in Portland for a shoot. My first trip I attempted to model and photograph. Lets just say, I am not a very good model so I made the trip again last night with a fresh new idea and a model in tow. Derek Willis also joined along to help finishing up the filming for my Kickstarter video. I am hoping to have my Kickstarter live by April 10th!
A little history for you about 104th St. Drive-In. What was once the largest drive-in screen in Portland, is now just a sign on the side of a busy road. Not all was lost when this theater closed though, in 1990 the screen went to 99W Drive-In after theirs had been damaged by wind. 99W Drive-In still remains open today and was recently saved by Honda'a Project Drive-In, a nation wide contest that has saved 9 drive-in theaters so far by raising funds to buy them new digital projectors.
With the amazing help of Derek Willis I started working on my Kickstarter video yesterday! This is a huge and exciting step but also the hardest part so far since I am quite possibly the most awkward person in front of a video camera. We recorded my voice over and rigged an iPhone up to my rear view mirror to get some video of me driving and mostly making an ass of myself as I forgot what I should be saying. Don't worry, you will all get to see soon!
Back in November, I went to visit my friend April who recently moved to Chicago, IL. I had been daydreaming about drive-ins constantly and figured I should check and see if there were any near her that I could go and photograph while I was there. Lucky for me, the Hilltop Drive-In, an abandoned theater, was located just 40 minutes from her apartment.
This was the first drive-in I had ever tried to capture and I only had a fraction of my lights with me. Mainly, we spent the day just testing out various lighting ideas I had floating around. I wasn't going for a masterpiece at the time, I just wanted to see how such a large space functioned and get a better idea of what kind of equipment I would want on my road trip to get exactly what I wanted. I will be traveling back to Joliet on my summer road trip with a solid idea in mind of how I want to capture is space.
One problem I have been running into is finding locations anywhere near me in the Pacific Northwest. There really isn't much for abandoned locations anywhere near me. There is one sign off of SE 108th and Powell that I will be making a visit too soon...if the rain stops forcing me to reschedule. The second closest abandoned theater was in Washington and sadly was torn down last summer. There are a few operational drive-in theaters, however, I am patently waiting for them to open in April so I can go watch some movies and get some pictures.