So You Want To Make It In Hollywood, But You're A Bird?

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Alex Eckman-Lawn. “Chorus” (2021). Collage. Courtesy of the Artist and Paradigm Gallery.

Alex Eckman-Lawn. “Chorus” (2021). Collage. Courtesy of the Artist and Paradigm Gallery.

Expert Insights and Nest Design Inspiration for Spreading Your Wings, Finding Your Flock, and Laying a Golden Egg on Tinseltown

New David Fincher film Mank, while confusingly shot on black and white, does a lovely job demonstrating the now century-old influence of the entertainment industry on cultural sectors outside of itself—politics, namely, and the propagandist mechanisms therein, as well as American identity formation, industrialism, style, and intellectual property rights. We won’t waste time on a synopsis or a deep dive on this particular picture, but what we will emphasize is that the film’s portrayal of the insular and tight-knit nature of Hollywood and its abominable studios during the 1930s is superb. There’s glitz, there’s glamour, connivery and mischief, and perhaps most importantly, there’s the reinforcement of the multitudinous desire to be a part of it, however questionable—a desire that has only amassed and scaled over time, and continues to this day. To “make it” in Hollywood is never out of fashion. 

Considering this, perhaps no film in history crystalizes the take-no-prisoners showbiz pursuit quite like six time Academy Award-winning picture, All About Eve (1950). It’s a masterpiece. A fame pursuit tale of feeble wonderment, salty veteran mastery, couth manipulation, and martinis en perpetuity. The story: superstar actress, Margo Channing, played by the unequivocal Bette Davis, takes under her wing a fresh-faced acting upstart, Eve (Anne Baxter). This upstart, while spinning a convincing tale of her abandonment and neglect, is in fact a status, and stage, obsessive—coyly aloof and downright sinister, thirsty for fame to no end. 

Margo, of course, is a Broadway star, with a hardened demeanor yet a tender heart, and the film unfurls into a comedic and searing portrayal of predator and prey, hawk and pigeon, here today and gone tomorrow. And while the film centers around the New York theatre scene, the flashy and increasingly pervasive encroachment of Hollywood, and its tinsel-wrapped celluloid, is a dominant motif... its decentralized and unprecedented culture of fame-making amasses over the historically structured theatre model as a force to be reckoned with, however bloodthirsty and lacking in taste. 

Queries Birdie, stage maid and ally to Margo, played by a brash and unflappable Thelma Ritter, at one particularly pivotal moment as the room fills with characters of the above mentioned nouveau disposition:

There’s a mistake from the bartender. Does Miss Channing know she ordered domestic gin by mistake?

To which Margo replies disgustedly: 

The only thing I ordered by mistake is the guests. They’re domestic, too, and they don’t care what they drink as long as it burns! 

Illustration by Laurindo Feliciano

Illustration by Laurindo Feliciano

See, Hollywood, despite the penguin suits and the fine-feathered friends in high places, has never really anchored its identity in prestige or regality. Of course, there are famous and influential families (what industry lacks these?), and the wealthy tend to decorate their homes as if they were in the Cote D’Azur, not Coldwater Canyon, but the charm, the myth, and the allure of Tinsel Town is that you don’t need a stack of polished prerequisites to “make it”. What you need is grit. What you need is chutzpah. What you need is talent. For you’re the Oystercatcher, you’re the Golden Goose, you’re the Early Bird and the worm is fat, from Gower to La Cienega.

But what if you’re actually a bird? What if you have feathers, lack teeth, and lay eggs? What if you’ve been living on seeds since birth, as opposed to a key ingredient in your keto cleanse? What if you can fly? What if you flew into Hollywood all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed from, say, Greenland, instead of Ohio?

Well, the differences between you and an eager beaver human in the reception room of a big audition may not be all that far apart. Recent research, for instance, conducted at Imperial College London¹, developed, for the first time, a map of a typical bird brain, which demonstrates how different regions connect and process information. The research team discovered that areas important for high-level cognition, such as long-term memory and problem solving, are wired in a similar way to that of humans. “Birds have been evolving separately from mammals for around 300 million years,” remarked Professor Murray Shanahan, author of the study from the university’s Department of Computing, “so it is hardly surprising that under a microscope the brain of a bird looks quite different from a mammal. Yet, birds have been shown to be remarkably intelligent in a similar way to mammals such as humans and monkeys.”

In short, if you’re a bird trying to make it in Hollywood, that’s ok! You stand as much a chance as the next guy. You’ll feel the myriad emotions that surge through The Big Orange like clementine juice—the burn of rejection and the glory of success. You’ll migrate to Cabo in the winter, your plumage will dress to impress, and you’ll concede that you’re only ever as good as your last project, be it a big budget blood fest, a nest, a short-format scripted web series, or a ritualistic mating dance with someone else in your cast. 

Here now is an anecdotal field guide (with robust research and journalistic inquiry, of course) to navigate the smoggy skies of La La Land, which takes into consideration, of course, the unique characteristics that make you the bird that you are. In accompaniment, naturally, are serial examples in historic cinema that demonstrate, and hopefully add to your confidence, that it’s all been done before—there’s a place at the proverbial table for you, and it’s sea bass for supper... not quail. Enjoy! 

O2 Treehouse. Courtesy of O2 Treehouse.

O2 Treehouse. Courtesy of O2 Treehouse.

O2 Treehouse. “Bannana Slug Mountain - Equilibrium Home”. Photographed by Alissa Kolom. Courtesy of O2 Treehouse.

O2 Treehouse. “Bannana Slug Mountain - Equilibrium Home”. Photographed by Alissa Kolom. Courtesy of O2 Treehouse.

Illustration by Alex Eckman-Lawn.

Illustration by Alex Eckman-Lawn.

Squirrel away your duckets, then fly the next and give it your best

Understanding the Home Not Away from Home in Contemporary America, and How to Forge One Anew in The City of Dreams

Written by Julia Smith

It’s hard out there for a bird with a dream. Since you hatched, you’ve been waiting for that moment when you are finally able to spread your wings and make it big. Photos of Duck Norris, Crowy Deschanel, and Goose Springsteen have presided over your room since you were just a little nestling. It’s been a long time in the making, and while you’re almost 23 years-old (in bird and mammal years alike), you’re not alone in being slow to take the leap of cosmic faith and find fortunes of your own. 

Much to the chagrin of your parents, things are different than “back in the day.” In fact, according to Pew Research², since 2010, when 44% of Americans aged 18-34 lived with their parents, “The share of 18- to 29-year-old [humans] living with their parents has become a majority since U.S. coronavirus cases began spreading… surpassing the previous peak during the Great Depression era. The number and share of young adults living with their parents grew across the board for all major racial and ethnic groups, men and women, and metropolitan and rural residents, as well as in all four main census regions. Growth was sharpest for the youngest adults (ages 18 to 24).” 

My goodness. So the coronavirus scaled these figures, but things had been headed in this direction pre-pandemic for several years. How come? Because birds of a feather flock together? It’s economics, bird brain. According to Andrea Breen³, an Associate Professor at the Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition at the University of Guelph, ‘‘More and more families need to combine incomes in order to afford basic necessities. Economic necessity is driving young adults to stay in (or return to) their parents’ homes and it is also an important factor in many older adults moving in with their adult children.” 

Student loan debt has ballooned, certain automations are eliminating job opportunities, and buying and renting a home has become more expensive year on year since the economic bounce back following the Great Recession’s conclusion in 2014. It’s tough out there! However, the influences for more prolonged nest-dwelling are not just dollars and cents. A study conducted in 2015 by the same Pew Research found that as the economy improved coming out of the Great Recession, even more millennials were living with their parents. A better economy with more employment and higher wages wasn’t reversing this trend. Thus, according to a rather callous CNBC⁴ article on the study: “The real reason more young adults are living at home is because everyone feels more emotionally comfortable with the arrangement. It’s not about economic hardship, it’s about doing what’s easier and more familiar for as long as possible.”

Sounds complicated. What doesn’t sound complicated is the allure of fame’s bright spotlight. And anyway, those long days and nights pumping seasonal frappucinos at Starbucks have finally paid off. It is time to fly the coop⁵, out of your parents’ basement, and into the City of Angels. Your folks may have squawked at you to make a more reasonable decision, citing the economic challenges (when in fact, it could be an unwillingness to bend the lip of the nest and emotionally spill you outward) but you’re not like the other birds. You don’t want to spend all your hours on Playstation, looking forward to Taco Tuesday and Fish Finger Friday. You’ve got ambition, dreams⁶, and big plans for the silver screen. The first year will be hard and full of decisions—there’s the matter of a job, of course, affording one of the country’s most expensive cities in the day to day, and most importantly, where to build your new nest.

Now, picking a suitable nest is one of the most important things you can do, and while there’s no shortage of space in the expansive metropolis, there is a significant shortage of housing. So choose wisely. Maybe you shack up in a Victorian remodel with six industry chicks out in Eagle Rock. Maybe it’s more of an apartment share in Boyle Heights. You might have heard lovely things about Bel Air, but be patient. Not yet. You need to assimilate, dress for the role, find the right friends, and understand the history afoot. 

Illustration by Jorge Mascarenhas.

Illustration by Jorge Mascarenhas.

I just flew in from the Antarctic peninsula, and boy are my wings tired

Because Everyone Comes from Somewhere Else

Written by Constanza Falco Raez

We know what you are thinking. This place is nuts! How are you supposed to acclimatize? They’re all parading around in Crocs and shorts, but have you felt those Hollywood nights? They’re freezing!⁷ Well, no need to worry about it—migration, or immigration, whatever you like, is so hot in Hollywood right now! In fact, many of the faces you see on the big screen today are immigrants: new Bond girl Ana de Armas from Cuba, Wonderwoman’s Gal Gadot from Israel, British–Zimbabwean actor Regé-Jean Page of ragingly successful Bridgerton, Kenyan-Mexican actress Lupita Nyong’o of Black Panther, and the list grows longer by the day. Everyone is from somewhere else, and everyone has had to adjust. Just don’t mention it much—being here is about being here, not somewhere else—and don’t expect an Oscar. 

“We need to accept migration as a reality, as part of our experience,” explains Sonia Shah, author of The Next Great Migration: The Beauty and Terror of Life on the Move.And I am not saying it’s all good, and I am not saying it’s all bad, it’s just something that is natural, and it’s part of our condition of being humans on this planet. Even for some of us that have stayed in a place for several generations, if you go far enough back, every one of us is a descendant of a long distance migrant, except for a very few people in parts of Africa. We all have that heritage.” The Schwarzeneggers, the Gerbers, the Kardashians—all of these well-known families come from migrants, so why not you and your future dynasty? The good news is that if you make it, your children, and your children’s children, are all set with a Hollywood career as well! 

Adaptation is the name of the game. Do the new workout, and make sure to go to Erewhon and fill a basket every day. You don’t even have to buy the stuff! Just bob around and you’ll be blown away with who you might run into. When that happens, you know the deal. Be in a hurry, be cool, and a kiss on both cheeks.  

“Bird’s Nest” Image courtesy of Treehotel.

“Bird’s Nest” Image courtesy of Treehotel.

Migration is a major topic these days, for humans and birds alike. And while climate change is radically impacting your family’s annual decision-making, you have to stay the course and act like you belong. “Migration is a reality that is going to keep happening, so whether we like it or not it is here to stay,” Shah further writes, “we can try to close the borders and pull up the ladders, but what happens is that migration continues anyway, it just becomes more dangerous and more disruptive.”

What’s great to understand, too, is that your bird migration is not all that different from that of humans. In fact, scientists have recently discovered that there is more in common in migratory behaviors than previously thought. Shah demonstrates: “Most of us go from the countryside into the cities, and then to the next country over, and then across the ocean, we do this kind of step-wise over generations. What’s interesting about bird migration that some scientists are finding now, because they are using GPS and solar tags on birds, is that they don’t stay put in any one place, they are moving all along, so it’s not just one journey, they are still moving hundreds of kilometers all over the place.” 

Los Angeles, too, is all over the place, and undergoing serious change. Locals will tell you there was never a “fire season” to memory, and that the nights used to be cooler. But birds have seen this coming. Birds are the first to know. They’re like hotel maids. They’re an “indicator species” after all. So it’s important to seize the moment, because you never know when it might be gone. Relax, keep moving, and practice your lines on the flight.

“Nest” by Porky Hefer. Photographed by Katinka Bester.

“Nest” by Porky Hefer. Photographed by Katinka Bester.

Do your homework

Understanding Avian Agency in the Myth and Lore of Modern Image-making

Written by Lauren Kelly

Now that you’re adapting to life in the City of Angels, let’s consider angels.⁹ Doing your homework is huge in Hollywood. Knowing who’s dating who, who is attached to what project, being able to cite and recite the classics, and understanding what begot what is imperative. See, it goes both ways. Birds have fascinated human beings for thousands of years, and that fascination has shaped a vast array of myths and misconceptions to this day. 

Writers Rachel Warren-Chad and Marianne Taylor explain how the many superstitions surrounding birds came to be in Birds: Myth, Lore and Legend.¹⁰ “Yet, it was—above all—their ability to fly that established birds as celestial and even godlike creatures,” they write. People fear the things they cannot understand. The same could be said for celebrity and fame. We are transfixed, yet you’d be hard-pressed to not regularly hear this culture of idolatry bashed and lamented by many of those around you. Naturally, birds, and their ability to fly in particular, have always been threatening to human beings.

Due to this fear, humans have sought to exert a sense of control over birds. For years, birds have been locked in cages and kept as pets. They have also been repeatedly depicted as “evil” and appear in many horror films.¹¹ “Birds … were spiritual messengers, soaring heavenwards and also penetrating the caves, crannies and other places inaccessible to humans,” Warren-Chad and Taylor write, explaining the special skills birds possessed that fed this power dynamic. 

So, others in the industry will always try to bring you down, but that is only because they know you possess a unique set of skills not available to them. As contrary to your nature as it may feel, use your ability to soar to the unknown as a means by which to ground yourself in spirituality.¹² You see, it can be easy to get swept up in the Hollywood life, but only those who remain grounded will come out the better for it. 

“Caterpillar” by Porky Hefer. Photographed by Rudi Geyser III. Courtesy of Southern Guild.

“Caterpillar” by Porky Hefer. Photographed by Rudi Geyser III. Courtesy of Southern Guild.

Appearances are everything

Let me Repeat That. Appearances Are Everything.

Written by Eloisa de Farias

Now that you’re settled in, it’s time ruffle up your feathers and put on a show. There is nothing more heart-wrenching than the dodo bird next to you in line for your casting call rocking the same hot pink bag you chose that morning. Does this make you basic? You bet. Perhaps you’ve become so accustomed to flock life and following, you’ve forgotten how to lead.¹³ It’s time to make that sidewalk your runway.

The first thing you need to remember is that to stand out in Hollywood you need to weave together your very own distinctive style. Ellen Mirojnick, Costume Designer of period drama sensation, Bridgerton, attests as she shares over a video interview that, “Self expression is always at the forefront of the frame. People should enjoy that and exhibit it. You don’t have to do it every day of the week. But it’s certainly fun.” So stuff down any nervousness and pull out that outfit you have been thinking about all year. After all, you never know who you might bump into. 

With spring on the horizon, Hollywood is the place to be. It’s a perfect time to blossom into a different phase of life, new beginnings. “There is a huge desire to feel spring,” Mirojnick continues, “And when I say to feel spring, everything that embodies spring, whether it is a bird chirping and beckoning spring, or flowers blooming, grass growing, and things turning green. It’s the beginning of a new life.” Let the spring be your redemption. Clothe yourself in an intoxicating and exhilarating way. Ensure that no one looks away. And most importantly: don’t mistake this mindset for being flashy or obnoxious. Self-assurance, through whatever it is you choose to wear, is brighter than any color and louder than any print.¹⁴

So what’s the key to maintaining style through all the highs and lows that are bound to occur? Don’t be overwhelmed by all the stimulation—the pressure, the noise, the distractions. Rather, you need to acquiesce—become the noise, the bright lights, the stimulation. “There are birds with the most magnificent colors,” Mirojnick shares. “Enraptured by color and color frequencies. I think between the color frequencies, and the sounds that birds make, that combination brings me to the most heightened, open-hearted hope.” How nice is that? 

Spring is a breath of fresh air—it’s crisp and light and gleaming. Hollywood is not. Hollywood is dirty, overdone, and frankly it’s hard to breathe. If you want to survive it—the endless competition, the endless auditions—you need to bring the fresh air to Hollywood. Consider your colorful plumage your greatest attribute. 

Illustration by Danny Sangra.

Illustration by Danny Sangra.

Nutritional Facts

Because As Much As You Want that Chocolate Chip Cookie, It Doesn’t Want You

Written by Audra McClain

Nothing like a little nepotism in your morning coffee! If you’re not the step-daughter of the United States’ new Vice President, that modeling contract may be a little harder to secure. Being a bird, it might be even harder. So while you’re here in the Hills, you might as well try your best to fit the part.¹⁵ If you just migrated from Ohio, you’re going to need to stop pecking at the Swenson’s Galley Boy burger and peanut butter milkshake, and transition over to a cold-pressed juice with an elixir chaser from Erewhon instead. 

We all know the stereotypes. Angelenos are vegan health fanatics, constantly on a juice cleanse, ever in pursuit of the trendiest nut butter. It’s easy to scoff at the gluten free diets as you enjoy your fast food, but it’s hard to deny some of the benefits of these eating habits on the world. The planet is struggling with climate change, and how we eat is a direct reflection of its health. 

Celebrated novelist, Jonathan Safran Foer, writes in his recent non-fiction book, We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast:¹⁶ “Changing how we eat will not be enough, on its own, to save the planet, but we cannot save the planet without changing how we eat.” Saving the planet, and starting with breakfast, shouldn’t be too difficult for you, because the early bird gets the worm.

Opt out of the breakfast meat (how else are you going to make the sidewalk your catwalk?) and while you’re at it, you might want to opt out of all meats to add more years to your life. Safran Foer lays out the facts. “People who eat diets high in animal protein are four times as likely to die from cancer as those who eat diets low in animal protein are.” Or how about this fact, which is particularly astounding? “The current level of meat consumption is the equivalent of every person alive on the planet in 1700 eating 950 pounds of meat and drinking 1,200 gallons of milk everyday.” 

The Earth isn’t meant for this amount of meat consumption. There’s a reason migratory patterns have changed—warming oceans! More and more, we hear about the imminent collapse of our ecosystems and way of life. Look at it like this: if there’s no Earth, there’s no Hollywood, so how will you make it big? There is no guarantee of a Hollywood on Mars, in the event that we exhaust our resources and have to move civilization there. Considering Mars is pretty damned hot, and being cool is critical, it would be ideal to continue lunching on La Brea and spreading your wings for roles and yoga poses—not survival. 

Illustration by Johanna Burai

Illustration by Johanna Burai.

Birds Sniff Each Other’s Bacteria to Help Find a Suitable mate

It Can’t Hurt to Audition as a Lovebird, If You Get My Drift

Written by Joshen Mantai

Surely a big piece of achieving the coveted stardom and unwavering loyalty sought herein is the impending car crash you can never look away from—the opportunistic reach of the “power bird celebrity couple.” It’s time to pursue a mate. From the unavoidable, abhorrent ship names like “Jelena” and “Kimye”, constantly outcompeting one another in wealth, it is hard to balance a joint spot in the bird limelight. 

However, the bloodthirsty pursuit of high combined net wealth is one that you, as a bird couple, should aspire to achieve.¹⁷ A catalyzing event that may give way to this aspiration is one that celebrated anthropologist and falconer Lauren McGough describes as a “predator-prey dance that goes on”. Not a literal predator-prey exchange wherein you want to eat your partner (see the befuddling discourse around errant bird, Armie Hammer), but a healthily craving dance to outcompete one another in a relationship. The potential results should be rather compelling, as powerful couple examples like Kim Kardashian and Kanye West (though the divorce, at this stage, seems legitimate at the time of our printing this magazine) have accumulated an astounding combined $2.1 billion net worth. How? Well, among other things, by merely mass producing shoes that are comparable to floating inflatable rafts, as well as overly expensive shapewear that may or may not cut off all of your circulation. Easy! 

A necessity of being a part of a bird power couple is keeping a constant lookout for your main aggressors, the despicable crows who hide in the crevices of your mansions to catch you off guard—the paparazzi. To spot your perpetrators, McGough remarks that you should mimic a “coiled spring, super alert, neck arched watching every blade of grass move.” If you’re not too careful in this arena, your bird relationship could be mistaken as a “ploy for press,” in the case of Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes shockingly carrying empty coffee mugs on a schemed neighborhood stroll—oh, the horror.

Powerful bird relationships in Hollywood should not be ones marked by brevity, where your integrity can seem dubious (see Taylor Swift), but ones that build increasing strength and fame over time. While it may be apparent that you are first together for increased notoriety, “Over years,” McGough remarks on this deepening love’s potential, “your partner will finally want to be with you just because. That initial appetite goes away.” Hopefully, you won’t get too comfortable, whereby you’re passionately swallowing each other’s faces in public, like Timothee Chalamet and Lily-Rose Depp, but, as McGough states of the necessary elbow grease that needs go into a relationship, you should strive to “convince this other wild animal you’re worth hanging around.¹⁸ A bird of prey isn’t a social animal, and has no desire to initially please you.” 

Eventually, you will want to build a bird family to carry on your lineage of fame and fortune, and, according to McGough, “if you’ve developed a good bond, in the spring, female birds will want to nest build with you.” Your publicist may want to keep your bird baby tucked away from public view at first, and you should not let this anticipation get the best of you. A build-up to a bird baby reveal is ideal for widespread media circulation. 

In the worst case, things may need to come to an end for the sake of both party’s best interests. You should be prudent in how you go about a breakup, but it is inevitable that the heartbreaker will be blamed for the news.McGough illustrates this point in describing the unfair villain-making of birds of prey. “People forget often how hard it is for the predator because the predator is always the bad guy.” The reality is the predator has emotions too, even if they hide their internalized rage.¹⁹ Nonetheless, you should do your best to conceal sadness or uncomfortable feelings, and avoid signs of weakness in the public eye.

Next, avoid your ex in public at all costs, and if a chance encounter occurs? Remain unphased.²⁰  “If I release my eagle into the wild,” McGough continues, “and see her a couple days later, she would probably fly away and show no reaction to me whatsoever.” McGough shares further on how what’s good for the goose, is effectively good for the gander. After all, you can “tell the health of an ecosystem by how its birds are doing overall,” she says, “It’s an ecological litmus test.” Indeed, the high rate of celebrity divorces has emulated the turbulence of pandemic times. Nonetheless, this should not discourage you from your power couple yearnings. 

The search for a celebrity bird mate in these trying times is a difficult feat, and is one that should be meticulously planned, for optimal future prominence. You should hunt for a bird partner who is equally courteous and classy.²¹ After all, a bird partner, according to McGough, “is like a mirror. It brings out the best or worst in you. It can accentuate your best traits or worst.” Identify those traits, then—regardless of the relationship’s longevity—and crystalize that love in the mass production of merchandise.

Tham & Videgård. “Mirrorcube, Treehotel in Harads” (2008-2010). Photographed by Åke E:son Lindman, Lindman Photography. Courtesy of Tham & Videgård.

Tham & Videgård. “Mirrorcube, Treehotel in Harads” (2008-2010). Photographed by Åke E:son Lindman, Lindman Photography. Courtesy of Tham & Videgård.

Fame is the Drug I’m Thinking Of

But What Is this Hole? This Void? Haven’t I Made It?

Written by Taina Millsap

In Hollywood, everyone is looking for a thrill. The adrenaline rush of the red carpet, the excitement of being chased by the paparazzi. Up to this point, though? Hustle. On the weekend, you might have been seen at Nobu Malibu with a $24 cocktail, but during the week? You were grinding. Two casting calls before 10am, a mat pilates appointment at three, before commencing your serving shift at six until the last dumb drunk fraternity boy from UCLA stumbles out. 

And it’s economy flights of course, to New York to keep your edge, to Toledo to keep your soul. But you did it. You landed a new TV show where teenagers act like 30 year-olds, and it’s paved your path to the stars. At first, it’s so damned exciting. The roles pile up, and so does the bank account. People who’d never have spent the time on you are now eager for their place in line. There’s magazines, there’s junkets. Red carpet? You can do that with your eyes closed. Fame is amazing. Now that you’ve made it, the emptiness, the void, can finally turn solid. You can party with the Kardashians on the weekend and collapse into a first class pod on Air France to Paris whenever you want. And the house you bought? It’s incredible

But what is this? What is this hunger inside? This hunger for more?²² You shop till you drop, you date five people at once, you drop an album. Nothing fills the void. Then one day, in a sad and lonely state, despite the calls and messages from your agent, your rep, your fans, you decide to watch Point Break. Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves. Surfers addicted to high stakes heists. There’s skydiving, there’s guns, there’s freedom—it’s incredible. 

In a study by Maria Aziz and Sumaira Rashid called “Risk taking behavior and interpersonal relationship of adrenaline junkies: A qualitative study”²³, Point Break is cited as a landmark cultural moment for “adrenaline junkies”. “That was the first time when the term ‘adrenaline junkie’ was used several times in front of the public,” states the study. “Such types of people tend to create events in life that lead them to experience an amount of stress and fear which in return gives them the pleasure of an adrenaline rush in their bodies.” They continue, “During the interviews, the majority of adrenaline junkies were smiling most of the time. There were happy feelings associated with the memory of extreme behavior.”

And that’s what it is—a smile. You haven’t experienced this sensation, genuinely, forever. That’s when you realize it. It’s not about the fame. It’s not about the fancy cars, the jewelry, all the gifts, the power couples, the scaling of wealth with online giveaways, the competition, the sets, the jetsetting, the procedures to stay “young.” It’s about doing what others can’t. The freedom. The weightlessness.²⁴ The child-like awe and wonderment. Because unlike them outside, wanting your attention, unlike your colleagues, your peers—you can fly. And the moment to do so has never felt so right. 

Illustration by Danny Sangra

Illustration by Danny Sangra

O2 Treehouse 

Interview by Julia Smith 

What started as a geodesic dome in the backyard of his dad’s home quickly became the catalyst Dustin Feider needed to begin his company—O2 Treehouse. To date, Feider has done it all: intricate luxury tree houses in Beverly Hills, to simple, quiet escapes in Colorado, to spaceship-like structures more akin to sculptures. With the environment in mind, he creates dwellings that blend into the natural flora and fauna of the land.

Growing up as a hiker and climber in Minnesota, Feider’s passion for the environment and humans has been a mantra he has carried throughout his works, seeking new ways to introduce those who may initially shy away from venturing out into the great outdoors, or those who desire to re-engage. In the upcoming year, O2 Treehouse is beginning to roll out a new project—Treewalkers—with the goal of creating modular and scalable treehouse villages across the world.  

On Ecotourism:

“Ecotourism, and then eco-volunteerism, since the 90s, really started growing in popularity. Generations of young people, with greater exposure to the internet since the 90s, early 2000s, just caught the bug to travel the world because they could see it online, and started exploring from an early age—Leonardo DiCaprio at The Beach. It’s about going out and exploring and having experiences, and so I think the internet brought around a greater value for experiences versus material possessions, and the internet generation and subsequent generations understand this. That’s the dream—to build your experiences versus build your individual empires or castles on yourself, which I think is the inspiration and the dream of generations past—like the white picket fence—our whole idea comes out of that.”


Interview by Madi Dobson 

Bertil Harström, interior architect and designer, and Kent Lindvall, owner of Treehotel in Harads, Sweden, collaborated on a hotel room in the trees—The Bird’s Nest—that gives you a realistic bird’s eye view. The completely natural room allows you to close yourself off from the world and experience what it’s like to be a bird in its downtime. 

Bertil Harström on comfort in the nest: 

“A bird’s nest, for me, is something rather introverted. The birds are free, and fly around during the days and—when they come back to their nest—they want to cocoon, want to stay inside, so I only have small, small windows to look at what the weather is like. But, mostly, when I’m inside, I’m inside and have a nice time.”

On being kind: 

“It’s a cold, long winter, and how could you survive up in a tree? We’re looking at the situation where you couldn’t harm the trees. We have to be friendly with the trees, and we have to mean something doing this.”

Kent Lindvall on tenderness: 

I mean—handmade—we carry all the building material to this place, because we want to keep the nature around untouched as much as possible, a little bit deeper inside the forest. Also, that was in the idea of the background of the other rooms. You can lift them up with a crane, but Bird’s Nest was made in place by hand.”

 Porky Hefer

Interview by Madi Dobson

Porky Hefer is a South African designer currently based in France, where he creates sustainable, traditionally hand-woven human nests that disappear into nature, leaving as little impact as possible. Hefer left the world of advertising and embarked on his nest creations in 2009, using only the materials within reach, much like a bird would.

On the joy of nesting: 

“We’re very confident of our center of gravity in the way we’re sitting. We’re very confident, but if you make that person a bit more so they’re not in touch with the ground, they get a bit more sort of nervous. But then you realize, ‘Oh, it’s like when you climb a tree, or when you get into a hammock, you get into some other sort of zone of pleasure and experience.’” 

On the importance of co-existing:

“I mean, one of the biggest things about my nest is when you put them outside in nature, they break after like 2 years. I come in, I fix it up, and then the guy will phone and say ‘Well, why is it breaking,’ and you go, ‘Well, it’s natural and it’s outside and you’re jumping on it. Your kid’s probably got eight friends in there.’ You gotta kind of understand that with every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, and it’s mostly like that in nature—but not when we have plastic and steel. We’ve made everything so that it’s not like that. We can just ignore that. I go to someone’s house, and then I get a bit worried, because they’re not in touch with that side of things. You know, you’ve got to understand that everything is a delicate balance, and I think that’s where humanity has gone wrong with the bottom line, where maximum profit has become the most important thing.” 

Tham & Videgård

Nestled on a forested hill close to the village of Harads in Sweden is the Mirrorcube, one of many projects from design firm, Tham & Videgård. The cabin, floating amongst the trees and reflecting their foliage, nearly camouflaging it, is a 4x4x4 meter cube composed of highly reflective glass. Positioned freely, the cube presents a 360 degree view, allowing visitors to be perched in the trees as a bird.

On design: 

“The Mirrorcube is a simple hut in the trees, a lightweight aluminum structure mounted directly on the tree trunk of a tall pine. The glass reflects the surroundings and the sky, creating a camouflaged place among the treetops. The interior is made of plywood and freely positioned windows open up to a 360 degree view of the surroundings. The cabin offers a living for two people; a king size bed, a small kitchenette and bathroom, as well as a living room and a roof terrace. Access is via a rope ladder or a rope bridge attached to the adjacent trees. The project is realized entirely with local resources and craftsmanship from around Harads.”

1 (2018, October 23). “How Are Birds Like Humans?” Wingspan Optics. https://wingspanoptics.com/blogs/field-journal/how-are-birds-like-humans

2 Fry, Richard. Passel, Jeffrey S. Cohn, D’Vera. (2020, September 4th). “A majority of young adults in the U.S. live with their parents for the first time since the Great Depression”. Pew Research.

3 Grinevičius, Jonas and Baliūnaitė, Ilona. (2020). The Age At Which Young People Leave Their Parents’ Home Is Surprisingly Different In Different Countries. Bored Panda.

4 Novak, Jake. (2017, April 20th). “Millennials need to move out and get a life!” CNBC

5 Bird People. Pascale Ferran. IFC Films, 2014. Digital.

Set in Paris, France, Bird People depicts the life of a man who, after a breakdown, feels trapped by his current life. In order to break free of his current restraints, he willingly misses his flight home from a business trip, leaving his wife and children, and turns a hotel room into his new nest. There, he meets a maid, a University student, which transforms both of them forever. The scene in question? While looking out his hotel room window, Gary Newman calls his employer back home to inform them that he will not be returning. Newman divulges that life has been weighing too heavily on him and he’s prepared to leave everything behind. The man on the other end of the phone reminds him how big of a deal this shift will be, questioning him on his decision to leave. After asking Gary if he plans to leave his family, Gary states simply, but effectively, “Everything means everything.” This solidifies that his mind is made up, that meaning has found new meaning, and he truly is ready to fly the coop.

6 The Maltese Falcon. John Huston. Fathom Events, 1941. 35mm.

In this noir classic, detective Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) gets more than he bargained for when he takes a case brought to him by a beautiful but secretive woman (Mary Astor). As soon as Miss Wonderly shows up, trouble follows as Sam’s partner is murdered and Sam is accosted by a man (Peter Lorre) demanding he locate a valuable statuette. Sam, entangled in a dangerous web of crime and intrigue, soon realizes he must find the one thing they all seem to want: the bejeweled Maltese falcon. The scene in question? In their last conversation of the film, Private Detective Sam Spade explains to the weeping Brigid O’Shaughnessy why he has to turn her into the police—she killed his partner. The two confess their feelings for each other, but it’s not enough for Spade to turn his head from the crime. After sharing a kiss, police come to escort O’Shaughnessy away. One of the men holds up the falcon statue, which Spade once thought to be gold and jewel-encrusted, but turned to be a fake, made of lead. “What is it?” he asks. “The stuff dreams are made of,” Spade responds.

 7 White Bird in a Blizzard. Gregg Araki. Magnolia Pictures, 2014. 35mm.

Kat (Shailene Woodley), a teenager, relishes her newfound freedom after her disturbed mother vanishes, but the strange facts of the disappearance soon begin to haunt her.The Scene in question? The story inter-weaves back and forth with flash-backs, and one of those shows Eve, the mother that vanishes, being quite a wild girl, and gradually changing since her marriage to Brock, an ordinary man who leads an uneventful life. “He was her doormat. She treated him like shit and he let her,” Kat says of learning this history. 

8 Shah, Sonia. The Next Great Migration: The Beauty and Terror of Life on the Move. Bloomsbury Publishing (June 2, 2020).

9 Sully. Clint Eastwood. Warner Bros., 2016. Digital. 

On Jan. 15, 2009, Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger tries to make an emergency landing in New York’s Hudson River after US Airways Flight 1549 strikes a flock of geese. Miraculously, all of the 155 passengers and crew survive the harrowing ordeal, and Sullenberger becomes a national hero in the eyes of the public and the media. Despite the accolades, the famed pilot now faces an investigation that threatens to destroy his career and reputation. The scene in question? A flashback shows that after the plane lands on the river and a ferry team has rescued all the passengers, Sully is brought to a hospital, and he is told that all 155 souls on board have survived. He is later brought to a hotel to stay, and one of the employees gives him a big hug, leaving him stunned. He calls Lorraine, his wife, to let her know he is okay, even though she has no idea just yet of what has happened until Sully tells her to turn on the TV with their daughters. Back in the present, Lorraine calls Sully in tears as it just hits her, “There were a hundred and fifty-five people on that plane and you were one of them.”

10 Warren-Chad, Rachel. Taylor, Marianne. Birds: Myth, Lore and Legend. Bloomsbury Natural History. (2016, October 25). 

11 The Birds. Alfred Hitchcock. Universal Pictures, 1963. Eastman Color Negative Film, Type 5250.

Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren) meets Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor) in a San Francisco pet store and decides to follow him home. She brings with her the gift of two love birds and they strike up a romance. One day birds start attacking children at Mitch’s sister’s party, which gives way to a huge assault on the town by more and more birds. The scene in question? There are students standing in a classroom. Something is off. Mrs. Hayworth gives out a warning,“Do not make a sound until I tell you to run. Then run as fast as you can.” They run away from the school building as a flock of crows follows close behind., scratching and clawing at the children until they find safety.

12 Black Swan. Darren Aronofsky. Fox Searchlight Pictures, 2010. 16mm.

Nina (Natalie Portman) is a ballerina whose passion for ballet rules every facet of her life. When the company’s artistic director decides to replace his prima ballerina for their opening production of Swan Lake, Nina is his first choice. She has competition with newcomer Lily (Mila Kunis) however. While Nina is perfect for the role of the White Swan, Lily personifies the Black Swan. As rivalry between the two dancers transforms into a twisted friendship, Nina’s dark side begins to emerge. The scene in question? During the end of the play’s second act, Nina becomes distracted by a hallucination, causing her partner to drop her. She returns to her dressing room and finds Lily preparing to play the Black Swan. When Lily transforms into Nina’s doppelgänger, the two engage in a fight that ends with Nina stabbing the doppelgänger with a shard of glass, only to reveal that it had actually been Lily who had been stabbed. She hides the corpse and returns to the stage, where she loses herself and gives a flawless performance as the Black Swan. “No, it’s my turn,” she says.

13 Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). Alejandro González Iñárritu. Fox Searchlight Pictures, 2014. Digital. 

Former cinema superhero Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) is mounting an ambitious Broadway production that he hopes will breathe new life into his stagnant career. It’s risky, but he hopes that his creative gamble will prove that he’s a real artist and not just a washed-up movie star. As opening night approaches, a castmate is injured, forcing Riggan to hire an actor (Edward Norton) who is guaranteed to shake things up. Meanwhile, Riggan must deal with his girlfriend, daughter and ex-wife.

The scene in question? After a failed opening night, Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) finds himself hungover on a stoop of a New York City brownstone. Awakened by Birdman, the voice inside his head, he is given a pep talk that reminds him of the great superhero he once was, giving him the confidence and a new attitude to return to the stage. Rising above the streets of New York, literally, Riggan resembles a phoenix rising above the ashes, or at least so it seems. “The next time you screech it will explode into millions of eardrums. You will glimmer on thousands of screens around the globe, another blockbuster. You are a god.”

14 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Miloš Forman. United Artists, 1975. 35mm.

A 1975 American film directed by Miloš Forman and based on the 1962 novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey. The film follows Randle Patrick McMurphy (played by Jack Nicholson) as he serves a prison sentence for assaut and statutory rape of a 15-year old girl.  In an effort to avoid hard labor, he is then transferred to a mental institution. The scene in question? There, he finds himself in a battle of wills with the martinet Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher) who keeps the psychiatric ward locked in an iron fist through the use of abuse, medication and sessions of electroconvulsive therapy.  “Now one big breath gentleman,” Nurse Ratched begins, “I’d like to begin today; it shouldn’t take too long.” The camera pans to Randle as he walks into the room with lolled back eyes and a slumped walk. He slowly faces the group who believe he’s become vegetative with the EST, and then a wide grin splits his face and his deep laugh permeates the room, “How’s about it you creeps! You lunatics, mental defectives! Let’s hear it for bull-goose-Randall back in action!”

15 Bird Box. Susanne Bier. Netflix, 2018. Digital.

When a mysterious force decimates the population, only one thing is certain—if you see it, you die. The survivors must now avoid coming face to face with an entity that takes the form of their worst fears. Searching for hope and a new beginning, a woman and her children embark on a dangerous journey through the woods and down a river to find the one place that may offer sanctuary. To make it, they’ll have to cover their eyes from the evil that chases them—and complete the trip blindfolded. The scene in question? After 14 hours on the river, Sandra Bullock and her children are paddling across the river when an ominous man begins harassing them, telling them to take their blindfolds off and enticing them with food. She then begins shooting her gun at the air while she’s blindfolded, trying to kill the man. He then appears suddenly, and she tackles him until she kills him with a knife, while he shouts,“Take your blindfold off! See the truth!” She then paddles off, leaving him to sink into the river, with birds squawking in the background.

16 Safran Foer, Jonathan. We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast. Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2019).

17 The Cranes Are Flying. Mikhail Kalatozov. Warner Bros., 1957. 35mm.

This Soviet film is about Veronika and Boris, a couple who were torn apart by World War II. The pair watched cranes fly overhead as they walked along the river and promised to meet before Boris left for the war. Boris was not able to see Veronika before he went off to fight, and she was left to deal with some hardships of her own back at home. The scene in question? Following the end of World War II and the return of the Soviet soldiers, Boris’ friend Stepan delivers a powerful speech at the train station. “We share the grief of those who cannot meet their loved ones today, and we will do everything to ensure that sweethearts are never again parted by war, that mothers need never again fear for their children’s lives, that fathers need never again choke back hidden tears. We have won, and we shall live not to destroy, but to build a new life.”

18 Little Birds. Elgin James. Millennium Entertainment, 2011. 35mm.

A restless teen (Juno Temple) convinces her best friend (Kay Panabaker) to help her steal a vehicle and head to Los Angeles, where she hopes to find the skateboarder (Kyle Gallner) with whom she experienced her first kiss. The scene in question? When Lily comes back into the car with a bag of chips, Alison asks her how she had the money to pay for them, to which Lily replies that she stole them and that it’s not a big deal. The tension builds until Lily throws Alison a snack she stole for her. Alison opens the bag, hesitates, and then Lily calls Alison a hypocrite. Alison opens her door to go pay for the chips, to which Lily is frustrated because her crime will be revealed, saying to Alison, “For the first time in your life, can you just not be a baby?” Alison then walks off, clearly bothered by Lily’s remark.

19 The Crow. Alex Proyas. Miramax, 1994. 35mm.

Based on James O’Barr’s comic book The Crow, this film follows guitarist Eric Draven after he is revived back to life by a crow a year after his and his fiancée’s untimely murder. Throughout the film, Draven can be seen tracking the couple’s killers, taking them out one-by-one avenging his fiancée after her rape and murder. The undead vigilante slowly begins to take on his avian hero’s attributes, reinforcing the legend of the crow. The scene in question? The film opens on a burning, dilapidated world on October 30th. As smoke fills the air of what appears to be a dystopian world, Sarah, played by Rochelle Davis, sets up the storyline with a gripping monologue, “People once believed that when someone dies, a crow carries their soul to the land of the dead. But sometimes, something so bad happens that a terrible sadness is carried with it and the soul can’t rest. Then sometimes, just sometimes, the crow can bring that soul back to put the wrong things right.” Often considered a bad omen, crows are typically painted in a bad light, but this monologue offers the opportunity for this avian species to reinvent its reputation.

20 Red Sparrow. Francis Lawrence. Twentieth Century Fox, 2018. Digital. 

Prima ballerina Dominika Egorova faces a bleak and uncertain future after she suffers an injury that ends her career. She soon turns to Sparrow School, a secret intelligence service that trains exceptional young people to use their minds and bodies as weapons. Egorova emerges as the most dangerous Sparrow after completing the sadistic training process. As she comes to terms with her new abilities, Dominika meets a CIA agent who tries to convince her that he is the only person she can trust.The scene in question? Dominika goes on stage to perform, and while performing her solo, another male dancer comes in and steps on the back of her leg. This causes her leg to break on the spot and she is rushed to the hospital. This gives rise to her remarks later on the turn of events, “I saw something I was not supposed to. They gave me a choice, ‘Die or become a Sparrow.’”

 21 Lady Bird. Greta Gerwig. A24, 2017. Digital.

Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) is a senior at an all-girls Catholic high school in Sacramento, California.  For her entire life, she’s longed to attend a prestigious college in “a city with culture.” Her mother, Marion McPherson (Laurie Metcalf) works tirelessly to keep the family afloat after her husband loses his job. The scene in question? Lady Bird’s father Larry remarks “You aren’t gonna get in a car with a guy who honks, are you?” when Kyle (played by Timothee Chalamet) picks Lady Bird up for prom without walking up to her door, questioning his aptitude as a considerate romantic partner.

22 Sweet Bird of Youth. Richard Brooks. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1962. 35mm. 

After unsuccessfully trying his luck in Hollywood, charming gigolo Chance Wayne (Paul Newman) wanders back to his hometown, accompanied by Alexandra Del Lago (Geraldine Page), a movie star on the wane. Chance quickly falls back into his old rut—he’s still smitten with his former sweetheart, Heavenly Finley (Shirley Knight), but her thuggish brother (Rip Torn) and her crooked politician father (Ed Begley) both hate him. When Alexandra leaves town, Chance is left with little more than trouble. The scene in question? One of the main characters, actress Alexandra Del Lago, is scared of performing on set for a film because she is older now and she thinks her fans loved her when she was younger. She receives a pep-talk from a man named Bennie telling her she is an artist, a star and the sex symbol of America. She then goes on to perform on set after kissing the man on the cheek. “You’ve been a top star for fifteen years, you’ve got millions of fans, loyal and devoted,” he says, to which she replies, “Devoted to the way I used to be, the way I used to look.”

23 Aziz, Maria. Rashid, Sumaira. Indian Journal of Health and Wellbeing. “Risk taking behavior and interpersonal relationship of adrenaline junkies: A qualitative study” (2018, March).

24 Spirited Away. Hayao Miyazaki. Fathom Events, 2001. Digital. 

In this animated feature by noted Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki, 10-year-old Chihiro (Rumi Hiiragi) and her parents (Takashi Naitô, Yasuko Sawaguchi) stumble upon a seemingly abandoned amusement park. After her mother and father are turned into giant pigs, Chihiro meets the mysterious Haku (Miyu Irino), who explains that the park is a resort for supernatural beings who need a break from their time spent in the earthly realm, and that she must work there to free herself and her parents. The scene in question? Zeniba apologizes for her sister’s actions, the ones that turned Chihiro’s parents into pigs, but explains that she is helpless in helping Chihiro turn them back to humans. Chihiro will have to figure the situation out for herself in order to save her parents as well as Haku, the river spirit who appears as a young boy, the one who has tried to keep her safe since she arrived in the spirit world. She asks Zeniba for more help since she can barely remember Haku, but Zeniba responds, “Once you meet someone, you never really forget them. It just takes a while for your memory to come back to you.”