We had the good fortune of connecting with L.J. Fogel and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a big-picture conceptual thinker, but I am also extremely detail-oriented. My commitment to consistency of vision is one of my best qualities. Having worked my way up from copywriter to director of digital media, PA to independent filmmaker, I respect all roles on a project, and I love collaborating.
With all my professional experience, nothing is as valuable as the lessons I learned by doing things I was afraid of. Overcoming challenges has improved everything about my work, the way I do it, and how I relate to myself and others.
As a documentarian, I know that nothing is wasted. For better and worse, I have an unbelievable memory. I can pull up something from an experience I had years ago, either to make people laugh or find inspiration for my work today.
The saying goes: It’s either a good time or a good story. Well, it can be both a good time and a good story. And with enough distance, if it’s a bad time, it’s an even better story—one that might be helpful to someone else.
One of the questions here is about what we are proud of. I’m kind of uncomfortable with that word. That said, I still can’t believe I was willing to approach people all over the U.S. for God on the Street. Their generosity was astounding. They let me into their homes and shared their most personal stories.
I’m proud that I was able to make so many people feel comfortable enough to open up. I’m proud that they trusted me.
I balance intensity with silliness. I did comedy as a younger person, and while I never aspired to do it professionally, no matter what I’m working on, I find the humor in it! My first movie was about a rubber chicken named Lawrence. Now that I think of it, it’s is probably a great time to get started on the sequel.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
My Los Angeles visitor itinerary usually revolves around natural settings, books, art, and high-quality vegetables. I am a big walker, so whoever visits had better bring sneakers!
I like to take people on tours of the many Secret Stairs in Hollywood, Silver Lake, Echo Park, Baldwin Hills, and the Pacific Palisades. The Victorian homes in Angelino Heights are a must-see.
My book-related tour would include Counterpoint, Alias, Skylight, Stories, The Last Bookstore, and Arcana. I love matcha, so I’d like to stop for a break in Los Feliz at Maru. The downtown branch of the Los Angeles public library is excellent.
I’d also take my visitors to the beautiful Huntington Gardens. Then, we’d go to Nicole’s for tartines. I really like the Norton Simon Museum, because it’s got an impressive collection, but it’s petite enough for a quick visit. High tea at the Langham is awesome.
If we really want to make the most of it, how about hiking and beach on the same day? The Malibu grotto hike is awesome. You can climb on some big rocks, then take your boots off and put your toes into some ice-cold water mid-hike. Ahhh. Then I’d drive to my secret spot at the beach for shell collecting and a dip in the ocean. Lunch at Neptune’s Net obligatory.
If we could get tickets to a show at the Hollywood Bowl, that would be epic. I’m planning on seeing Flying Lotus this summer.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My shoutout is to everyone who encourages me to take the next indicated step, no matter how small. My family, my friends, and my network of colleagues. I’d like to dedicate this to all the gracious participants in God on the Street, the people who worked alongside me to make it, and my fellow filmmakers for their wisdom and camaraderie. Thank you to the graffiti writers, artists, and musicians whose work inspires me.
Thank you to all of my spiritual coproducers. You know who you are.
Main image, images of me with white flowers, and image of me looking at the camera in profile were taken by photographer John Lennon.