Julia is one of my dearest friends. We met in Portland, Oregon in 1996.
These are excerpts of emails I sent her during the time I was making
Me and You and Everyone We Know—from conception to Sundance
June 2001 Chicago, the idea
I am writing a feature film! It is sort of like Nest of Tens
but on a grand scale, interweaving stories of children and adults, them
trying to invent control of their small worlds and bodies. I will just
write it over the summer, and not shoot it until next year. I have no
money or anything for this, but it’s free to write!
June 2003 Utah, from the Sundance Institute Filmmaker’s
I listen to other people’s screenplays at the readings and kind
of feel doubtful of mine, they have such a narrative arc, are so familiar
in their structure and suspense, it makes it seem so real, so movie-like.
I’m hitting real walls with my confidence, delving in to territories
I have avoided all my life. A level of planning and confidence based
on trust, in myself, in others, that has never been so tested or necessary.
I can’t bluff my way thru anything at all. It’s very humbling.
People have faith in the screenplay, seem to really like it, but that
is only a mild comfort, I still have to do the work, still have to rise
early with a fair amount of fear each morning. But that is infinitely
less than yesterday, and thus I know that I am building good muscles
for the real thing.
October 2003, leaving Portland
I must work very hard, in the next three weeks I have to: finish my
script, make and do a performance, write a grant, and move to L.A. and
finance the movie. All I really want to do is work on my short story
about a woman named Blanca. Oh Blanca, when will I ever get back to
November 2003, just moved to L.A.
I have to kind of hurry to get my life in order because the movie needs
me. My producer, Gina, got a grant from Sundance—rather amazing.
have at least money to hire the casting director—and part of the
grant gives us
a team of mentors to help us thru the process. I have mentors coming
my ears! A year ago: no mentors, now suddenly, mentors mentors mentors.
December 2003, still no money but re-writing like crazy
I just had a reading of my script (by actors) on Monday. It was really
nerve-wracking. I had done some major changes to it in the week before
and they all proved to be solid. What a fucking joy it is to write something
one week and the next week have an actor doing it right and everyone
laughing. But I have to say, it was more agony than joy, I’m not
used to being in the audience at my own show.
February 2004, longing to begin
I am trying to distract myself from the
glaring lack of 800 thousand dollars ponied up for my movie. What if
people just chipped in a dollar?
July 2004, finally
Tomorrow morning I start shooting my movie. It is like the first day
feeling x ten million. You should see the “call sheet”—filled
with all the info of the day, all the names and times and equipment,
etc. and up there at the top it says: writer/director: Miranda July.
That’s to make sure I don’t just use the paper to throw
away my gum in or something. There have been various hard things, things
I never would have foreseen, but essentially we are ready. Think of
me yelling Action! The movie is the most amazing incredible challenge
of my life.
I think I might be made to do this even tho it is kind of hell.
August 2004, after
So I finished.
1. It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done by far.
2. Physically it was very hard, to stay hydrated, to not lose too much
(I’m up to 104), to get enough sleep.
3. The actors, DP, production designer, and costume designer were all
very good. One can not ask for much more than that.
4. Oh god, I just can’t even tell you. It’s like war. It’s
like vipassana meditation. It seems inconceivable that anyone would
ever inflict that on oneself more than once. But already I am dying
to do it again with everything I’ve learned.
October 2004, editing
Things are pretty awful here. I’m struggling with the movie, have
not yet got it into a state that works, the bad notes and criticisms
just keep coming and all I can do is try try try to make it better.
This is a critical week.
Now the editor is here and I begin a day of hard work.
November 2004, almost done editing, got in to Sundance
I had very strong sad feelings last night.
It is kind of intense finishing editing.
Like suddenly I almost can’t bear to be done. To end my control
over this thing that was the only thing I had control over during this
whole out-of-control year. But it isn’t fear, just this intense,
painful, almost sexual intimacy with this movie and it brings up all
these strange feelings to be finishing. Not that I am done, but I hope
to be, by Friday or Sunday. Anyway, by the time I’m really done—and
there are weeks of finishing processes after picture lock—I’m
sure I will be sick to death of it and ready to let go.
December 2004, musical score
Yeah I think I only remembered about having silence in conversations
after I finished shooting my movie. I am waiting for Mike to
get off the phone so we can watch the movie, first time since a few
days off. I’m afraid I won’t like it.
I have the nightmares too, every night, that the movie is really horrible.
The other night I woke up with two adjectives left over from the dream:
trite and vague.
January 2005, almost Sundance
I’m writing this from the mixing room, where I say things like:
That zipper sounds like its nylon—can we have a metal zipper sound?
I’ll definitely have tickets for you and Carrie for my movie
and the awards ceremony and whatever else comes up. I’m so glad
you’re coming. In the last month Carrie finished her album, you
your dissertation, and me (almost) this movie—fun owes us big