Let's take a look back at how we prepared for this exciting project - oRaNgEdReAmS (with photos from Kell Riches our amazing and upbeat photographer). From finding the perfect wardrobe to reflect what was in style in the early 2000s, dressing Jessy's bedroom and a little bit on our greatest hurdles.
J. Graciano, my producer and I took on a crazy amount of tasks in pre-production! One of our biggest challenges was securing the shopping mall location. We went location scouting early in the year and kept visiting different malls in the OC area to get a feel for the atmosphere and more importantly how populated it was on any given day! Our DP - one of the very first on board the project and to fully understand the greatness of bringing back this time period, Mike Mcmillin told us that it would definitely be a challenge. We agreed but I knew that I needed to have the mall as a meeting place for the middle schoolers. For better or for worse, I was definitely a "mall rat" growing up and I think many suburban kids would say the same. With not much to do and a very limited range of transportation, the mall was a place to shop and to just hang around or "post up" and work on your budding self image. Fortunately, we were able to get permission to shoot at a shopping mall and did not have to compromise the vision. Wooo! (Fast forward through months of paper-work, back and forth with insurance and all that juicy stuff)
In terms of finding all the props and wardrobe for the cast I had a few gold mine resources - my own childhood stuff - call it fate or serendipity but my mom was moving and all my old stuff had to either be collected by me or thrown away! There was no way I was going to let all my old "tween" stuff and Beanie Baby collection become a nesting grown for flies and disintegrate for another few decades - especially when companies have been churning out "90s" nostalgia for the past few years! So I drove up to the Bay Area and got all my old things, including the coveted, Gelly-Roll-filled diary that I wrote in from when I was 9 years old till 8th grade.
Beyond digging through my closet, other places I used to find the exact styles that I was looking for were buying from people on Poshmark, dePop and of course the all-mighty thrift stores! Jessy's mall outfit would reflect the "prep" style that was big in the day, with her abercrombie shearling collar jacket (why clothing from a store that once sold hunting gear and is probably racist was so popular? Beats me. All I knew was I was guilty of buying into it too). Felicia's department store style shirt with that infamous dip collar (does anyone know what that's called really!?) was also crucial. Without question, all the girls in the film wore flared jeans and white sneakers. The white sneaker obsession seems to be coming back - with adidas superstars for Jessy - which I'm fine with. I(n fact where is the k-swiss revival?) But let's just all forget about sketchers and nip that in the bud.
Stevey's outfit was really exciting as well. I knew exactly what we needed - puffy, "bubble" jacket, saggy jeans and of course air force ones! It was a bit of a challenge finding the jacket within our budget but the ingenious solution of buying the vest version saved us not only on our pocketbooks but on Reilly (Stevey)'s comfort. It would've been scorching wearing the full version! Maven's wardrobe was a bit easier to find. I got a quicksilver long-sleeve shirt for him to wear under a short-sleeve button up. His shoes were the world-famous heelys! Yet another shoe brand that seems to be slowly creeping back in style. The key piece that tied the boys together were their pucca shell necklaces!
Jennifer Y aka "Perfect Hair" had the represent the popularity of the zip-up hoodie. This piece was often but not always worn with a matching sweat pant. People of the 2000s seemed to love to be comfortable and casual even when they were dressed up. She had the vital spaghetti strap tank top underneath and of a rhinestone Playboy necklace. Andrew Lutheran's character (Popular Dude aka "Justin") wore a Big Dog shirt, backwards baseball cap and of course cargo pants that zipped off into shorts. The only piece that could rival those pants was his beloved razor scooter with light-up wheels.
In terms of location - I was able to rent a master bedroom in an Airbnb location to give optimal amount of room for our crew and talent. The room before hand needed a lot of changes to get it to the look that I was going for - teen girl's bedroom! I spent hours overnight decorating it with posters of celebrities, glow-in-the-dark stickers, Sailor Moon cards and of course the vintage iMac g3. It was so fun getting to have the time decorating the set exactly how I wanted it.
Dressing the set of Jessy's room required as many small trinkets and decorations that I could find. Almost all the items, except for the bed frame, side tables, desk and computer, were all my old items! It was amazing to see everything be used one more time in all it's glory. The final location was the dining room. This took a completely different approach. We went from cutely-cluttered to minimal and with a sense of a first-generation Chinese American household, or more specifically what I can recall from my upbringing. I borrowed tassels and silverware from my relatives and had the assistance of Leslie Yen, my cousin as the Art PA for the day! She did a great job to the finest detail and we had a good chuckle over the humorous lines in the scene.
Stay tuned for more posts about the project! My next post will introduce our amazing cast and the characters they embody in this millennial film, oRaNgEdReAmS ~ !