The Girl Called Rachel


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“Dream pounding and enormously…”

The letter I wrote to Marianna Palka took me five weeks and cost me 42 dollars. From the moment I felt compelled to write her a letter, I felt an intense pressure that I would not be able to clearly enunciate the feelings I had for her film Good Dick, and couldn’t bear to send her something substandard that I knew I would obsess over. I worked and reworked my words so much, I knew I had wrung out all of the true emotion I was so eager to share with her. It was dry and tough and frustrating. After a full month of working on this letter like it was my thesis, I decided to buy a voice recorder and just speak my feelings and transcribe them later. I practically carried the thing with me all over my apartment because I was constantly thinking of little phrases I wanted to include. I would wake up in the middle of the night and start talking into the recorder, knowing that these ideas were so much more organic and useful for my letter.

One day, I put a deadline on the letter. I knew I was being a crazed perfectionist about it, and I just wanted to get it over with. After all five weeks of rough drafts and preparations, the letter came spilling out of me at 3AM when I woke up to get some water. I sat in bed for two hours and wrote it, start to finish. The final draft was a compilation of different pieces I had culled in the past month, but all in all, it was pretty spontaneous. After reading it over a couple of times to check for typos (I missed one… but I’m still alive.) I sent it out and posted it to this blog, eagerly awaiting a response. I had to wait for a while, but on a day that had been utterly depressing, deflating and lonely, I checked my email:

Dear Rebecca,

Thank you so much.
I have been profoundly moved by your letter. My intention when making the film was in fact to enable people in the very ways in which you described being enabled. We are none of us alone. And it is very helpful to watch, read, see and participate in works of art that remind us of this through their complexity and vitality.
I commend you for sending the letter, you mentioned that it was scary to do so. I think it is a great thing to do to send a letter. I think you should continue to write letters to whomever you wish and always send them.
What your letter so eloquently details is the energy exchange you had with the film, it spoke to you as you spoke to it. This kind of energy exchange is, in the final analysis, the reason why film is a terrific medium and a positive force, it is the reason why films are made. It is a big day the first day you see a film that changes you. It makes you want to keep growing and never stop. As it should be. Many works have no doubt made and will continue to make such impressions on you. I say keep these close to you. It is always good to return to your favorite works at different times, to see them again or see them in a new light. Thus you learn a good deal about yourself and art in general.
I enjoyed reading about the children at the kindergarden you wrote about who are in love with High School Musical. I always think it is funny that as a child, I was really into Barbies and big time into the color pink. I feel that this kind of sweeping dangerous mediocrity currently existing on the landscape of what is mainstream, can only serve to inspire and define us as artists. Otherwise, with out motivation, what else is there? What is the alternative? To be destroyed by the ridiculous and untrue? To sit and watch it all fall apart or seem to before our eyes? To keep buying the porn and enabling the sex trade? To keep it going even though we don’t believe in it? What a most vibrant time to be making art. We have something to say and we can say it very well, and so that is what we all do. We say it. And it changes. Having something to fight for, having enlightened things to say, having a voice against the odds. What a life! I have come to love that push and pull between the mediocre and the divine, I think you can find that push and pull in everything. I think we always need something challenging to fight against. The bigger the hill the bigger the climb. You can’t sweat without something to sweat for. We all beautifully say our piece and we work hard and then we add to the landscape, and suddenly it is a lot more interesting to be alive, right? Finding what you want to say artistically and saying it is the greatest thing you can do with yourself. I believe that more than I can explain. Suddenly the couch is less enticing, the junk food is tasteless, the mediocre no longer has a hold of you and have better things to do, you soar. This flight is why you came onto the planet to spend time here. It is why you watch films of all kinds. You are meant to be here and you are meant to make work that inspires and helps people. You are cared about and you care deeply. That is also why you came onto the planet.
You are able to have whatever you want, you can make whatever kinds of films you dream about (make the most difficult kind, the ones that seem in a certain way impossible- make those) Dream massively about the love that you want and what it does to you and who it makes you. You must continue to dream pounding and enormously because dreams come true. They come true, so be as audacious as you possibly can be when dreaming and believe your dreams. Actively believe your dreams. All the time.
I am so excited for you and for your parents and for the fall. I think amazing things have already begun for you. I am wondering what else is in store!
When you write your script or when you find your script, send it to me at this email address and I’ll be happy to read it and talk to you about it.
Meantime, get the following books and read them:
THE WAR OF ART- Stephen Pressfield
AND THEN YOU ACT- Anne Bogart
THE PURPOSE OF YOUR LIFE- Carol Adrienne
Look on the Sundance website and the UK Film Council website. Look at the AFI website. Where do you currently live, in what state?
The last thing I would like to say is a request. I would very much like to put your letter among other such beautiful things on our website for the film. We would love it. We can remove your name and just write from “anonymous” if you would prefer to be nameless. Let us know,
Thank you so much and loads of love to you gorgeous Rebecca,
Love Marianna x.
The timing of the letter was so perfect that before I could figure out what it said, I was crying. I didn’t need to read any of the words because all that mattered was that I put so much of myself into reaching out to another person and the gesture was being reciprocated, fully and finally.

Maxine Noel's "Sisters of the Dawn"

Maxine Noel's "Sisters of the Dawn"

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