I Met Harold Ramis Once

When Jim Henson died in 1990, I almost burst into tears at work. His work had such a huge, wonderful impact on my childhood, in equal measure Sesame Street and The Muppet Show. He was gone too soon.

I felt almost the same way when I heard Harold Ramis died. His impact on my young teen and young adult self is life long. Ghostbusters was released on June 1, 1984. I got to see that movie in Los Angeles in a huge movie theater that was packed full of people, including one guy dressed as a ghostbuster. (Not sure which one, but probably Venkman because we all wanted to be Bill Murray.) I was just blown away by A) the sheer size of the theater and the audience, coming from my small town life and B) where did that guy get all that cool stuff (all the actual logo patches) to make that costume!?!?

Years later I was working at Sony Imageworks and we were bidding on the VFX work for Multiplicity. One of our biggest selling points was that we had the technology to shoot elements for the movie to create the multiple characters needed. We set up a camera test so that Mr. Ramis (the director) and the producers could come and see what we had to offer. The meeting was good, he was low-key and polite. I was so excited to meet him, so grateful to be in the room.

We went down to the stage to show him the camera set-up for the repeatable camera head (a big deal back then, very common now). We had set it up so that he could do a short bit of acting out himself as two different selves on camera. (A la Multiplicity.) He was game and sat down and suddenly the polite and low-key director turned ON! He was now an actor and improv comic creating a scene on the fly with himself. It was like lightning had struck the room. I had never spent time on set like that before and seeing that flash was incredible. I always thought myself a ham back then, maybe I could perform. But seeing Harold Ramis just GO, I realized I knew nothing about it and he was amazing.

All I've read about him since he died has been about his amazing comic genius, but also about his generosity and how he liked to work with a team, that he enjoyed the banter, the back and forth, the give and take. It wasn't just about him. Also, apparently, people thought he was pretty nice. I like to hear that because (back to me) I sometimes think I'm too nice for this business.

I'm going to miss everything that still might have been coming. I'm sorry he had to leave us so soon. I'm going to miss you Egon!


How "Toy Story" Messes Me Up As A Parent

Way before we had Harper, Toy Story had given me pause any time I came across toys in real life. The movie is so charming and funny and brilliant that how could you not consider that your toys come to life when you are out of the room?

Now with Harper and her toys, it's double trouble there. A pile of stuffed animals, baskets of balls and toy cars, the Gabba Gang, a stable full of horses. It's a lot. Most are on the floor or on shelves. But there are a few in the crib and they tend to stay in the crib. I started feeling bad about them, that they can't just jump out and play with the others. Prison. They are in toddler prison.

CribRabbitI feel especially bad for one very soft, furry rabbit. (She's the grey one on the left.) Except for Harper's little bear, which goes with her everywhere, Rabbit was the only other toy in there for months. I've slowly put in a few others and now I feel that she's not so lonely in there. Is that weird??

Or how about this? Mom gave Harper this awesome "Impossibly tall" rabbit doll for Easter last year. A lovely girl rabbit with a cute dress, a flower on her ear and fancy espadrilles. Harper loves it. For Christmas, Harper got the brother doll, also cute with sweater, jeans and Chuck Taylor type sneakers. Well, Harper is in the phase where all doll clothes come off. So one day I come in and both dolls are naked, their clothes strewn around and I realize they are both the same doll model underneath. There is nothing to distinguish them from each other without their clothes.

RabbitsToyStoryaMy worry? When I put the clothes back on, how do I know that I put the clothes back on the right doll? What if brother rabbit is not happy wearing his sister's dress and fancy shoes? Or maybe he loves it and can finally be his true self? What if the other boys are laughing at him? It's a tough call, man. I hate to think of any of Harper's toys being unhappy. I like to think they live in a warm and open group but can you really trust that crazy pelican puppet?

I Want To Be Pen Pals With Emma Thompson

Emma1I could have said, "I want to meet Emma Thompson" or "I'd like to work with Emma Thompson" and both of these are true (and both are not outside the realm of possibility). But being a pen pal is different. It is about creating a relationship with someone who is a stranger and who lives far away.

Now of course, Ms. Thompson is not exactly a stranger. She's an award winning movie star. I can read all about her all over the interwebs, but I hardly do. I prefer to watch her movies and to see her on talk shows when possible. I admire her talent and style and humor...but wait, all this should be in my opening letter.

Dear Ms. Thompson,

I would like to be pen pals. My name is Julia and I live in Los Angeles. I am married and have one daughter, her name is Harper, she's almost two and she's adorable. Okay, all mom's say that about their own kids and it's always true. I'm originally from Hawaii and moved to LA for college and to work in the movies. I love to travel and have been so lucky to do a lot of it, sometimes for work, mostly for pleasure. My favorite country is Italy. The food! The language! The wine! The scenery! Ireland is a close second. So green and the people can be so kind.

I'm looking forward to seeing all your upcoming movies and I hope you'll write more about your screenwriting work. (I loved your diaries on Sense and Sensibility.)

I'll end here as this is harder than I thought! I'm nervous just writing this simple letter. But my desire is sincere and I do admire your writing talent, your acting talent and your no-nonsense style and humor.

All the best to you and I hope you'll write back.

With affection and aloha,


There. That should do it.


"The White House Is Big!"

It was a year of intense work, but I made it, we all made it. Here's the trailer for White House Down in case you haven't seen it yet. The movie comes out today:

I could not have survived without our amazing team. Most importantly? We laughed. A LOT. That got us through. Here are some highlights of what we laughed about. 99% of you reading this won't understand, but dammit, I had to put in all down so in future, we'll remember and laugh again.

--Martin! IT'S...YOUR...MOTHER!

--The Hobo Stays!



-- Ron Mexico

-- Hair needs to breath. Hair.

-- Ghostbusters, whaddya want??

-- I was in the MIDDLE of something, Ray!

-- Knell before Zod!

-- Chatum

-- You're a malfunction! (followed up closely by:)

-- Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit!

-- Do you feel it? The connection?

-- "Also, Additionally"

-- I'm gonna MISS him!

-- Boba Fett?


and so many more that I can't remember right now...

This is random, but I am pleased with my creativity toward the end. Wrap gifts wrapped in the most convenient paper we had around:



Here I am on our very last day. Saturday (that's right, Saturday) June 1.



Champagne in the parking lot. Or the "Prison Yard" as we called it.

I hope the movie does well and I hope you all stay for the credits because all of those names (and many more that didn't make the cut) are people who worked their asses off. Oh and I hope you enjoy the movie too. It's fun. And the Visual Effects Kick Ass! Email after you see it and I'll surprise with what was real and what wasn't.





We Went To A Movie!

I knew the thing I would miss most about being a new mom was going to the movies any time I wanted.  When Harper was first born, we got to see a lot of movies thanks to my Producer's Guild DVD screeners. But for the six months after, not so much. And that's okay. What actually surprised me is that I missed it less than I thought I would because I really like just hanging out with Harper, especially now with a full time job.

Yesterday we went to a movie. In a movie theater. With an audience. And POPCORN!! (Okay full disclosure, we went to see "Brave" at a Producer's Guild screening in June, and while it was exciting to go, it was not quite the same. No popcorn, no trailers, smaller theater.) But yesterday, oh joy! We got a babysitter for the afternoon and went to see "Looper". I loved every minute of the experience and loved the movie. It surprised me in a lot of ways, going in directions I didn't expect, treating it's characters differently than I assumed it would. NICE.

The best part about going to the movies yesterday was returning to that joyful place, that movie palace (well, as close as we could get to a "movie palace" yesterday). I worshipped in the church of cinema for the first time in almost a year and it was like being born again.

Going to the movies is magical.The experience, the giant open room, the huge screen, the quiet hush of darkness before the trailers start. The happiness I find there is in my DNA. (Seriously, ask my mom.) I was transported, I was enthralled, entertained. It was heaven. When it was over and we watched the credits, all I thought about was how there better be lots of movie theaters around for a long time so Harper can have the same experiences, so we can share that worshipful place.

I just love movies. Can't wait to go see "Skyfall"!!

As a postscritp, I would like to add that I'm so grateful we can afford a babysitter for an afternoon or evening out any time we want and even more grateful to have two excellent babysitters on call. Truly truly blessed.

366/2012: Day 200 Hooray For Hollywood!

Thanks to my mom, one of my all time favorite movies is High Society. I know I'm supposed to say The Philadelphia Story, but I saw High Society many times before TPS. My mom and I quote the movie often and so when I heard Celeste Holm died recently, I thought of that fun movie. Turns out her star is near my job. Love the flowers.

"Miss Embry, from Duluth!"

366/2012: Hooray For Hollywood!