Yesterday as I dropped my manuscript off with FedEx, down to the wire, but deadline met nonetheless, I had 2 immediate thoughts: first – “Whoa, you’re a Red Hot Chili Pepper! (Flea was jogging past. We exchanged an odd, sustained look at one another. I don’t know what was going on in his head, but having been writing a bug-laden story all weekend, I was reminded of a moment in Close Encounters of the Third Kind when Richard Dreyfuss looked at a pile of mashed potatoes on his plate and declared, “This means something.” Clearly I, too, was delirious, but I digress.) The second thought was, I must call Stephanie at once!
For the past couple of years I’ve had regular meetings with Steph, frequently accompanied by her delightful partner Alec, at our favorite café, Figaro’s on Vermont Street (you may have seen it in a Bank of America commercial, but to me it is my own little slice of Paris right here in Los Feliz.) We each nurse a cappuccino (and, on special occasions one of their amazing confections – best bakery in town!) for hours as we discuss life, art, and philosophy, sharing anecdotes of our latest triumphs and challenges. I am always inspired and delighted by these discussions and this one was long overdue as we have all been so crazed with our respective projects and the lives that they lead.
I am pleased to share that Steph and Alec’s chaos has been of the most glorious kind. Their beautiful film The Red Machine is taking the indie film world by storm, culminating in a recent glowing review from Roger Ebert himself! This is a triumph for us all. The Red Machine is a true labor of love and proof positive that craft, artistry, innovation, determination and intelligence beat out over budget and fancy bells and whistles any day.
In many ways Camp Mental Slapstick and Camp Deviant could not be more different, and yet our journeys keep bringing us to the same revelations. Steph and I met online just after we’d shot trippin’ and just prior to principal shooting for The Red Machine. We met in person when she kindly took me in when during my 2nd week in L.A. when a fire forced me to evacuate my apartment and she generously offered me accommodations. Since then we have grown up together with our respective art in many ways and continue to.
There are so many different ways to be a successful artist, but yesterday’s meeting once again has me convinced there’s only one real reason – passion. Steph and Alec are filled with it and it shows in their lives and their art. I am lucky to have them in my life and excited to share their world with you. So, without further ado, allow me to introduce you to the amazing minds of Mental Slapstick…
1. Please introduce yourself
We’re Stephanie Argy & Alec Boehm, writer/directors.
2. How did we happen to meet?
Devi and Steph were introduced by actor Lee Perkins, who thought that that two chick directors would have lots to chat about. We started e-mailing back and forth — and it turned out Lee was right! Then Alec wanted to know what Devi and Steph were talking about, so he joined the conversation, too.
We were in post on an 11-minute short film called Gandhi at the Bat, which is a mock-newsreel about the little-known (and totally fictional) incident when Mahatma Gandhi pinch-hit for the New York Yankees in 1933. (Lee played the notorious Philadelphia Athletics catcher Mickey Cochrane — we met him when he auditioned for that movie, then we cast him as one of the two leads in our first narrative feature, The Red Machine.)
We just finished our feature The Red Machine. It had its world premiere at the Mill Valley Film Festival in October and will soon be appearing at the Santa Fe Film Festival, then in Prescott Arizona, then at the Sedona Film Festival. (Editor’s Note: actually this interview is embarrassingly outdated now. They have been traveling the world as their film continues to play at fests all over garnering awards and critical acclaim. They had their European premiere at the prestigious Edinburgh Film Festival and have won “Best Feature,” “Best Screenplay” and “Audience Award” among many others at various fests, and are enjoying a limited, but growing theatrical run as well. Congrats, Guys!)
5. How would you describe your work?
Howard Hawks, Tom Waits, the Coen Brothers, Edward Hopper, Greene and Greene, Alfred Hitchcock, Richard Feynmann, Buster Keaton, Nancy Mitford, the Beatles (Alec), Real Tuesday Weld and Gogol Bordello (Steph), Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Elliot Erwitt, the Marx Brothers (especially Harpo), Monty Python, Elvis Costello, Stanley Kubrick, XTC, P. G. Wodehouse, Kurt Vonnegut, Jac Zinder, Twyla Tharp, Lenny Bruce, Charlie Chaplin, Mel Brooks, Woody Allen (up through Zelig), They Might Be Giants, the Los Angeles Lakers (Showtime era), Chick Hearn. (Devi should be on the list too, but if we put her on, everyone will just think we’re sucking up.)
7. What is your major goal in life? How are you planning to achieve it?
To tell stories. We’re doing it!
We’re really still learning about them, but it does seem that the more you put in, the more you get out.
9. What else should people know about you?
We were born in the same hospital (different mothers) and met when Steph was 13 and Alec was 15. Also, people ask if we fight when we’re co-directing — we don’t.