I've been living in Los Angeles for a little over one and a half years now and gotten a great amount of experience in the media and film industry. I've worked full-time post production positions, managed and created social media content for large institutions and non-profits. While this time has been invaluable for me, I've always known that I wanted to do more. I needed to be able to have full creative control and fully cultivate my creative mind.
Over the past eight months I've been on a personal sabbatical from a lot of aspects of my life - friends, family, social media - but one thing for sure; I've been going full force and working my tail off to create my largest, most defining and challenging project of my career so far, oRaNgEdReAmS.
In short, oRaNgEdReAms, is set in 2002 and focused on a middle school girl who spends the majority of her time exploring pop culture through her internet connection and talking to her friends on AOL Instant Messenger (AIM). She receives a reality check when she meets up with some friends, including her crush, at the mall.
I believe this will not only be an epic blast-from-the past for Millennials, but will also provide teens with a look into early Internet culture and life before being constantly plugged in - not to mention a look at the fashion mishaps of the 2000s - but provide a much needed teen / tween outlet. Old TV shows like Lizzie Mcguire, As Told by Ginger, (old) Degrassi, often focused on the 'average' kid and the importance of their lives. Then in the late 2000s we had shows that focused on 'superstar' kids who already achieved their dreams and simply wanted to be normal (Hannah Montana, Victorious). Now I think there has been a big shift in that these days teen / tween media has been pretty scarce and almost eliminated.
Recently, I came across an article shared by a friend on Facebook about how people in their 20s are finding it harder and harder to feel like "adults". The reasons behind this notion were not being able to be financially independent (student loans, still living at home with parents, etc). The article talked about how people tended to enjoy reverting back to childhood TV shows and media. This point is definitely something that I have struggled with and that I have witnessed people around me deal with too. I think that "oRaNgEdReAmS" really could be more than a distraction or comfort to people. At it's core I hope that it can re-inspire people to take more chances and to be more excited about life and put themselves in uncomfortable situations, like we tended to do more when we were younger, because that's is really the best way to grow and change.
The story was inspired by my time in middle school in the early 2000s. I feel that this time period was such a perfect one to encapsulate that of a budding, young teenager. The early use of Internet pre-social media and invasion of privacy is so vital to self-expression. From my experience, young people would rush home from school just to talk to their friends on AIM and potentially a crush whom they were too shy to talk to in person. People would post lyrics from their favorite songs to express how they felt - just got dumped? Your profile would express that. Going to take a shower? Put it in your away message! Yes, we do that on twitter now, but there's one important difference - the messages were primarily for people you already knew and to build more of a bond. Many social sites today are about quantity of people who see your content (number of followers, likes, etc) and about reaching a wider audience and then maybe achieving online fame. Personal online journals were also popular - Xanga, Upsaid, Live Journal - and I'm talking full on diaries here with actual paragraphs of texts, not the micro blogs we see today! The charming nature of these blogs were that people would customize them - try to learn HTML by copy and pasting codes to get blinkies and change your cursor to a sparkly hamburger. The importance of this for our pre-teen specifically is that you get to see a pure, unguarded side of her when she talks online and has conversations that express so much more than she does in person.
Anyway, as you can probably tell I absolutely loved reveling in that time and wanted to remind people of how things were. What sparked my journey to the past was finding my childhood diary. What ignited the fire to choose this topic was the fact that Xanga had DELETED my old blog with years worth of posts [UGHHH SRSLY? THAT WAS A GOLD MINE]
Upon my dismay I realized the impermanence of our own histories. How often do you reflect on your middle school years beyond cringing at your yearbook picture? I mean I think we should embrace them. Sure styles change but how much do we really change in terms of what we strive for in life?
The main character - Jessy , is admittedly an over-dramatized, fictionalized version of my middle school self. She is very moody, shy, obsessed with outlandish dreams of being a Pop icon and having a boyfriend / and of course being popular! As trivial as these things may sound, don't they just break down to what we all strive for in life - acceptance, friendship, love and to work towards whatever our passion is.
We will be going in to production this week and I thought it would be a great time to look into the 8 months of intense preparation my cast, crew and I have experienced! So please join me in this exciting time, as we reflect on the behind the scenes of the movie - and prepare for the revival of the 2000s!