I drove from Baltimore to Los Angeles to go to New York

March 10th was the day where the dreaming began, on the High Line in New York City.  Erin, Ashley, Dave and I had driven to New York for a day trip.  It was mostly an excuse for Erin and Ashley to enjoy an exhibit on Harry Potter at Discovery Time Square, but there was lots of the trip for everyone to enjoy.  One moment in particular was going to B&H and admiring all the video technology I could ever need or want.  Erin was trying to talk me into maxing out a credit card on a higher end camera than the Canon I had been shooting my movies on to that point.  I didn’t buy anything that day, but knew I would be back before I was ready to make the leap from short to feature-length film maker.

We went from B&H to the High Line, which is parks converted from old rail lines if you have never been.  We sat looking out on the streets of New York when she handed me a pamphlet and proposed the idea.

“Why don’t you go to film school?”

I had gotten questioned about going back to school before, and I’m fairly certain the idea of film school in particular came up.  The idea never interested me, I always thought that I would be a film maker who did without it.  I seemed to have a vision, a clear sense for what I wanted to see and hear, and a unique voice.  But from that moment on, the question permeated.  Were my technical abilities holding me back from my dreams?  At B&H I wondered while looking at a plethora of cameras, which would be the best for me?  I did not wonder because I had so many to choose from, but rather because I had no idea what I was looking for.  I threw the question around for a while in my head, always resigning to the fact that my 7 day a week job was far to hectic to allow me to ever leave for school for any amount of time.

Months later, my job had changed and I was itching to change things up in my life.  After many talks with Erin, my family and friends, I decided to drive across the country to Los Angeles and study film at the New York Film Academy.

In my next blog (part 2 of 3) I will explain why I chose NYFA, and talk about my time there.  For now however, this is a story about the open road and a drive out west…

June 25th I woke up at Erin’s house with the car fully packed, and we went for an early breakfast at Denny’s.  I wanted to be on the road by 7, but we woke up late and didn’t start our meal until 8ish.  It was a tough breakfast, though it was tough to tell if it was because Erin was going to miss me so much, or if she was tired and wanted to go back to bed.  Either way, we had a pleasant conversation and talked about how much we were going to miss each other.   When breakfast was over, I filled up the car, bought a copious amount of sugar-free Red Bull, and was on my way.

Day 1:  Drive to Detroit

I had chosen a fairly unusual course to LA, at least according to my father.  I decided since I have never been to Chicago, I would drive north in the direction of Chicago before driving west to Los Angeles.  I decided 8-10 hours of driving a day would be about my limit, so I picked Detroit as my first stop along the way, and I was very happy with the decision.  Detroit is clearly a city in disrepair, and no words can accurately describe what it is like to be there.  The vacants, between the old train station and the abandoned skyscrapers in downtown, are extremely fascinating.

It was a true parable for America, and an interesting first stop in the cross-country trip.  It is shocking to me what the divide between the highs and the lows in this country can be, and no place encapsulates that quite like Detroit.  The streets were empty, and I went to the city center and found myself alone.  It seemed like everyone in town was at the Tigers game (which I wanted to go to, but didn’t arrive in time).  To truly understand what it is like to live in a poor city, I found nothing quite as shocking or eye-opening as Detroit.

Day 2 and 3:  Chicago

The short drive to Chicago was very pleasant, getting to see “The Big House” (Michigan Stadium) was quite a sight to see.  It would take 3 months before I said to myself again that I have never seen anything that large.


I arrived in Chicago around 6:00, and knew that time was of the essence if I wanted to drop off my stuff, get checked into the hotel and get on the subway to see the White Sox game.  Along the way I learned why Chicago is not the city for me…

-Terrible cell phone service because of all the large buildings.

-Cigarettes cost $15 a pack

-Public transportation is too slow, certainly not on pace with a city like New York, and it’s not a driver friendly city.

When I finally arrived at US Cellular Field, I was shocked by how quiet the home town club was.  I still to this day do not know what the crowd cheers to pump up the local nine (Let’s Go White Sox?  Go Sox Go?  Not the Cubbies?).  I felt more inspired checking out Wrigley Field the next day.  It was an amazing place to be, and I can’t wait to go back and catch an O’s game in the future.

It was cool to go up to the top of Willis Tower, worth going out on the ledge if you aren’t scared of heights…


Day 4:  Kansas City

This was a day where all the driving caught up with me.  Coincidentally, this is where a lot of the country started to look the same.  Along the way I did stop in St Louis, saw the Arch and had some awesome BBQ at Bogart’s.  I had every intention of going to catch a movie at the Alamo Drafthouse when I got to Kansas City, but the hotel was far away, and I was way too tired to do anything other than catch up on sleep.  I didn’t feel like I missed that much.

Day 5:  Denver

This drive was very long, and very boring.  If you have or ever plan on driving across the country, this is the place you want to save your most entertaining music or podcasts.  When you eventually reach the Rocky Mountains though, it’s like an aberration.  One of the most beautiful drives you will ever make are through those mountains.

Denver was an awesome city, and a place I would move to with joy if I had to.  It was gorgeous, and just an overall amazing city.

I walked down a street near city center and saw an interesting named place (I can’t remember it off the top of my head, for the sake of story, let’s call it Mary Jane’s).  So I was walking down the street and I saw Mary Jane’s and wondered if this was a marijuana depot of some kind.  Just as I approached it, I saw a group of guys outside all smoking joints.  The curiosity was killing me so I asked one of the pot smokers.

Cory:  I’m sorry if I sound like a complete tourist, but does this place sell weed?

Pot Smoker:  No, it’s a restaurant.

Cory:  Oh, I just saw you all smoking out here on the street and started to wonder.

Pot Smoker:  No, they can’t sell it til next year, but we all just smoke where ever and no one cares.

Cory:  So you guys must really be taking advantage of the new laws?

Pot Smoker:  No, honestly no one ever cared.

A thoroughly interesting conversation that I imagine will be coming to a town near you over the next decade or so.

Day 6:  Las Vegas

I woke up bright and early in preparation for a long drive to Vegas, I was hoping to get there in time to bet on and watch the Oriole-Yankee game happening later that night.  When I woke up I wore a sweatshirt, it was a brisk 63 degrees in Denver and I like to drive with the windows down.  Over the course of my drive through Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and Nevada the temperature rose to 120 degrees.  Completely unacceptable…

I didn’t arrive in time to put $20 on the O’s, but I did catch much of the game at a nice sports bar at New York, New York.  I’m not much of a gambler or show watcher, so most of my night in Vegas was spent on the roller coaster and walking the strip.  No matter what you like to do though, there is always something in Vegas for you.

Day 7:  Los Angeles

A short drive was all that was left from me and Los Angeles.  A journey of 3000 miles begins the journey of my career.   As I drove into Los Angeles, I flipped on my perfectly curated “Los Angeles Playlist”.  I drifted away in the art of others as I dreamed of allowing others to drift in to mine.  The next step in my life started when I checked into the Oakwood, where I would spend the next 2 1/2 months of my life.

Over the course of the week I spent in Los Angeles prior to the start of school, I took in the town.  I drove around a lot, I checked out the scene.  One thing in particular stood out though.

Fourth of July I was all alone, with no idea what to do.  I had seen online that Grand Park in downtown LA was having food trucks and fire works, so I thought that would be as good as it gets for a day honoring ‘Merica.

Needless to say I was bored pretty quick, and tired.  I had 5 hours until fireworks started so I decided to take a walk to a convenience store so I could get a red bull.  When I reached the Rite Aid, that’s when I saw it.  An old marquee for the Roxie Theatre.  I had heard tell of a music venue by the name of the Roxie before, but this could not be it.  The inside had t-shirts and other nick knacks.  I looked further down the road and saw more old theatres, the Cameo, The Arcade.  As I continued walking I saw beautiful old theatres, many repurposed for a variety of things, but was taken back.

Before the suburbs became all the rage, theatres in the city littered the blocks, all competing for the neighborhood and for a particular audience.  With the boom of multiplexes, these old-fashioned architectural masterpieces slowly died off.  All over Baltimore, I enjoy looking at these vacant palaces and think of the days when they were entertaining the city.  But here in Los Angeles, the movie capital of the world, was a row of them.  Each more magnificent than the one before it.  What it said to me is there is a place in the world for my movies.  I know that’s quite a leap, but these movie houses all played different movies, trying to attract specific audiences, and the days of the multiplex and 24 screens does the same thing today.  There is a place on 24 screens for my voice, and I was in the right place to make it happen.  I spent the rest of the afternoon reading up on the theatres of Broadway, United Artists, and the history of old Hollywood.  I was there now, and I was ready to get better and I was ready to bring it.

Next blog will detail the time I spent at New York Film Academy, the people I met, the teachers I had, the great actors I worked with and the experiences I had.  I look forward to telling you all about it.

1 Response to “I drove from Baltimore to Los Angeles to go to New York”

  1. 1 Luciana Capela November 11, 2013 at 10:57 pm

    Cory, I just read this and I got inspired again. After these past month back home and so far away from the city of angels, I started to get lazy and lost…I bumped into your posts and loved the way your passion can be felt through your words. It’s contagious and you made me very happy in this very moment. Thank you, my friend. It was a pleasure to be part of your adventure and I really hope it was not the last time. I have no doubt in my heart that you can achieve anything you want as a filmmaker if you put your mind into it, because you have talent and dream, a great combination. 😉


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