In the middle of all that I have lunch with a friend in New York who’s working in the production office of Woody Allen. And in the middle of lunch she gets a phone call and she just starts shaking and crying and you hear the yelling voice on the other line. The costume designer Jeffrey Kurland’s driver quit and he’s upset. He needs someone and she’s like, Would you do it, would you drive him? She’s like, Just go do it today and I’ll find someone for tomorrow. So I take the minivan and go pick the guy up on 63rd Street and 3rd Avenue where he lived and drove him to 63rd Street and Lexington Avenue where Bloomingdales was. And then sat in the car all day. And then drove him home. He’s like, So you want the job? And I’m like, No!
And he said, What do you mean you don’t want the job? It’s a movie job! And my excuse was, I can’t leave my dog home all day! And he said bring the dog! Really? I get the car and I can bring my dog? Pay? $300/week! I became a PA.
And shortly after that, sitting in a car on a movie called New York Stories there was some emergency, something needed to be made. This happens in the movie business. Everybody was flipping out- they needed to make some masks for a scene with Julie Kavner. All of a sudden the dial pointed to me. They’re like, Kid! Aren’t you an artist? And I’m like, I am…
Well, would you make these masks? And I’m like, If you let me out of the car I’ll make masks! So I went and made the masks. I made something that got in a movie and I was like, Whoa! That was cool.
And some friends of mine went off to make a low-budget indie film called A Matter of Degrees and I went up to help, as the most experienced crew member on the team because I had made a mask. And I became the designer of a million dollar movie.
When I came back to New York I went to Woody’s designer Santo Loquasto and said, I want to do this. I think I can do it. I have the skills. Can I work for you? And he said, Nope.
I said, What do you mean? He said, You know how to do it.
I said, No I don’t know how to do it! I just did it once! And he said, Yeah, you’re a designer now. And he helped me. I grew kind of like a single cell amoeba, then my cells divided…
AS: You found another feature to design?
MF: Little this’ and thats. I did a pilot. I did a short with Joaquin [Phoenix] when he was ten years old. He doesn’t even remember it. Some vanity project for someone else. Then I did In the Soup. That was a $400,000 movie but it won the Sundance Audience prize with Seymour Cassel and Steve Buscemi. It was a good film. And all of a sudden I’d made a movie now that a few people saw. And then I got going and grew up in the indie thing that was happening in New York in the 90’s.