No relation to Roman, let’s get that out of the way.
Diary of a Superhero, the movie that I’ve been writing and re-writing forever, has a new director. I get a call from the guys at the production company to tell me that they have a new guy on it. They say his name. They are about to launch into an explanation of who he is, but no introduction is required.
Me: Not the Mark Palansky? The guy who directed Penelope? Oh My God! He really wants to do our film? Seriously? Shit!
It was something like that.
To explain my joy, he’s a first time director who did this incredible indie film called “Penelope”; a fable about a girl born with the nose of a pig starring Christina Ricci and Reese Witherspoon. I love this film. I remember seeing and thinking wow, this guy has such a singular vision. Oh no, now I sound like an LA wanker… singular vision. Christ.
But really, the film had such a great look and was full of wonderful ideas.
And this guy wants to do Diary as his next film. This is a truly great day.
So around the middle of March 2009, I have my first sit down with him. I am grinning like a moron as I shake his hand at the production company. We sit down. And then we talk for the next few hours about the script and his vision of it. I keep having these moments where I wonder what I’m doing in the room with this guy.
In short, he’s cool, smart, and full of great ideas. He’s exactly how I was hoping he’d be. I leave with a sheaf of notes and the feeling that this LA thing might actually be going somewhere finally, that I’m part of something that is actually going to happen.
Here’s a little known fact about directors; they are the worst dressers in Hollywood. Actually no, writers on the average are worse. Just. Directors mostly look like they dressed off a Gap sale rack. Writers often look they got to the same sale, but late. I consider it a personal mission in LA to be the best dressed writer I know. It’s me vs Hollywood to mythbust the schlumpy reputation those of the script have tragically earned.
Hollywood isn’t like my old haunt of advertising where every director and writer are in the $200 t-shirt category.
But Mark can throw an outfit together; nothing try-hard, just really nicely, effortlessly done. The man has a great shoulder bag. I know this is shallow, I’m a bit of a bag whore, and anyone that has a bag I’ve never seen before that makes me slavishly covet it jumps up stratospherically in my books. Shoes and bags. These are the two things I judge on first sight. Fuck, he has great boots on too. I’m having a professional crush now.
Straight guys who can talk fashion I think of as semi-soul mates. It sounds crazy but when I get casually outdone by a straight guy on the bag and shoe front on a Tuesday afternoon, I immediately feel a kinship.
The next few months working with him are a dream; it becomes quite collaborative. He sends links and references, I send other footage and images I find back to him. It’s glorious visual ping-pong. In short it becomes a work life, separate to the producers, that is the most gratifying experience I’ve had in LA.
My personal life might be in the gutter, and I might feel like a second class citizen in every bar I go to, but I have a great director to work with every day who treats me like an equal. Despite the fact that his shoes and bag edge out my own.