Emma Debany: A Few Of My Favourite Things
From stolen safety manuals to persistent pins, WW7 director Emma Debany takes us through the items that keep her creativity flowing.
As befitting a director with as anarchic a reel as Emma Debany, this week's Favourite Things selection is a torrid tale of thefts, finds and tenacious trinkets.
Displaying a knack for irreverent humour with her LOL-worthy work for Totino's, Jack In The Box, and Gopuff (with a training in cheekiness being street prank PA on The Eric Andre Show), Debany's wicked sense of homour comes through not only in her commercials, but in the items that keep her creatively inspired.
Encompassing amazing discoveries and a penchant for purloining oddities, The WW7 director's picks offer a unique insight into a creative brain.
I stole this Godzilla toy from my best friend’s brother’s room when I was in high school.
My friend said I could keep it, but only if I promised to put it in my apartment when I got one of my own, and keep it there forever, or else.
I don’t think I can get rid of it now because I’m not sure what would happen to me, safety-wise.
It will probably be with me forever.
The Safety Manuals
I started stealing airline safety manuals from planes a few years ago.
Please don’t tell any of them.
I like noticing the subtle differences in the illustration styles – like how some are more abstract representations of people, others are just plain bad drawings, and some are clearly illustrations traced over photos.
I enjoy seeing how they’ve integrated new technology (and not-new skin tones) over the years.
Plus, the babies are always drawn really weirdly.
If you see me on a flight… don’t say anything.
The Chevy Blazer
One day, I went into the old Sears in Boyle Heights, right before it closed for good, to buy a fridge.
I did not buy a refrigerator, but I did notice the old photo studio inside was closing too.
It was basically abandoned.
Inside the studio was a CRT TV cabinet, with an insane purple zig-zag design around it.
Truly the stuff of insane 80’s fever dreams.
I asked a staff member about it, and he said the TV used to play a slideshow of photos that were taken in the studio.
I said I wanted it, and they just let me take it home.
When I got home, I opened the cabinet, and found a bunch of toys that children had shoved into the cabinet’s holes and couldn’t get back out.
This Chevy Blazer was one of those toys.
Eventually, I got rid of the TV and the cabinet – but kept the Blazer.
Okay, so this pin lives on my favourite jean jacket, along with a bunch of other pins and patches I’ve sewn onto it over the years.
The whole jacket is sentimental.
Once upon a time, I was dancing at a notorious LA after-hours bar.
I threw the jacket into a corner... and forgot it.
The bar has no phone number.
If I wanted it back, I had to go the next night at midnight. So I did.
I convinced the bouncer to let me in, despite not knowing the “password.” I asked a bunch of people about it, and they all said no one had found a jacket. I asked if a guest or employee might have taken it (I get it, it’s very cool), and they said no, no one would do that.
I was sad and got a beer at the bar. I told the bartender about my jacket. She said, “What does it look like?” I described it. She said cryptically, “I know where your jacket is. Come back tomorrow.”
Because, guess what? Someone DID steal it.
So, I went back the next night (at midnight again). I convinced the bouncer to let me in (again).
I go to the bar. THEY HAVE MY JACKET.
But, weirdly, all the pins are gone.
Because the thief took all of them before returning the jacket.
Good taste, I guess, but uh, mean?
But the joke’s on them – THEY MISSED MY FAVOURITE ONE; my Girl Scout Cookie pin I got when I was six years old.
It was on the collar, and it was small.
The Bag Of Scrapbooking Material I Will Probably Never Sort Through
This bag weighs 25lbs.
I have tried to sort through it before, but stopped.
It would take me weeks.
I am scared of it.
I add to it almost every week. It consumes me.
It has eight years’ worth of any tiny note, scrap, or small flat item that felt sentimental to me.
A few things it contains, at random: The first check I got from directing. A photo booth strip with an ex. A map of Catalina Island. An ID card from Omega Mart. A card from another ex. A festival bracelet. A plastic unicorn I made as a craft when I was 10. A script from the Sundance Director Labs, where I was an AC. A note from another ex.
There are two reasons this bag is scary to me – one is the quantity of items, and another is the memories.
But you take the good with the bad.
So, I keep adding to the bag.
The Foam Mirror
A few years ago, I found out about pourable foam.
It blew my mind.
I bought a bunch of foam dye, and found Pantone recipes to create certain colours.
I made a bunch of mirrors with it.
I added some weird chemicals to some of them, so it disrupted the chemical process and created strange textures, like on this one (guess what’s in it? DM me with theories).
Kinda looks like astroturf; kinda looks like toxic waste; kinda looks like a Ninja Turtle.
I dig it.
I still have all the materials in my garage, and I often tell myself that I will one day make and sell them, but we all know I probably won’t.
The VCR TV
I bought this TV from a stranger in Long Beach when I moved to LA in 2016.
I didn’t know anyone in the city yet, and figured I could make a hobby out of collecting VHS tapes and watching them at night in place of friends.
He said it was in his kitchen for 20+ years, and his kids used to watch shows on it in the morning before school.
I love it so much, even though I haven’t watched a tape on it for years.
It kept me company.
It served its purpose well.
I have friends now.