In December at a Cinemark theater in Plano, TX, I met Steven Soderbergh. I left thinking about his shirt: a black tee – soft and fitted, or so it looked – with the phrase "A Film by Mike Nichols" printed front and center. Once I got home and came down from my stupor, I jumped on Facebook to brag about the encounter, naturally. I casually mentioned his shirt, then tossed off an idea of making something similar, but I'd replace "Mike Nichols" with "Elaine May" – his comedy partner and frequent film collaborator. My fellow cinephiles approved so I decided to go for it.
Not enough people talk about the work of Elaine May. With 13 acting, 11 writing, and 5 directing credits, she's hardly as prolific as some of her contemporaries. (Blame the industry.) Yet despite her hardships, the work she has managed to produce is one of a rarefied distinction within American filmmaking. Her four directorial features from '71-'87 are films that should constantly be on the lips of any red-blooded, wide-eyed lover of cinema: A New Leaf, The Heartbreak Kid, Mikey and Nicky, and Ishtar.
As fellow Elaine-lover and National Post film critic Calum Marsh put it in a 2013 Village Voice profile on A New Leaf: "Watch the movies today, and you'll see that her authorial voice was distinctive, to say the least, and that its absence in American cinema throughout the last three decades has been regrettable."
I'm making a shirt as a tribute to this woman's legacy. I don't want us to collectively regret the next few decades (God have mercy) so here's a way to proclaim our love for Elaine to the ends of this ol' dusty world.
A black tee to mimic a frame from the credits of Mikey and Nicky – the one that started it all for me. A grainy (like celluloid!!) white font which reads, "Written and Directed by Elaine May" – just as it is in the film. What decent cinephile hasn't daydreamed of May writing and directing scenes of their own life?
The tees are Bella + Canvas brand, a softer, fitted material. There will be unisex and women's styles and come in any size (except for babies and pets, sorry). You can visit their page here to get more detailed specs. I'll ship anywhere in the world because I know Elaine has a global fanbase, and I want everyone to have an opportunity to sartorially celebrate her.
This is a limited edition run. As of now, the plan is to print 50 t-shirts; if we go over on fundraising, then we will print more. Simple as that. And if all goes well, the plan is to envision a second run of Elaine May shirts different from the first batch.
While she's still here, I want her to know that she's adored. And I want you to tell her. Heck, let's get her a shirt.
Risks and challenges
I've never tasted Mogen-David extra-heavy malaga wine with soda water and lime juice and I've never made t-shirts. But I do have a design and a screen printing company ready to initiate this tribute to one of cinema's greatest risk-takers. If Elaine can get her idiosyncratic films produced and released (even when control gets wrenched from her hands) then, by God, I can make some t-shirts for the lady.
As soon as the project ends, and we have been fully funded, you will be asked to take a survey from which all pledgers' shirt sizes, mailing addresses, etc. will be compiled. Once that is complete, I will give the okay to the screen printing company to begin production on the shirts. They should be ready a few days after the order is confirmed, and I plan to have the shirts packaged and shipped sometime between the end of February and early March.
I'm working with a local, trustworthy screen printing company and what I've seen of their work has been flawless. My close friend Joel Libramento has been my right-hand man throughout. He created the design and all accompanying graphics. Joel has also run an online apparel store and knows the particular nuances of design, production, and shipping, so we are in good hands.
This project is a labor of love; I want you to have this shirt. Deliveries will be prompt and timely. Elaine's birthday is April 21st; you'll have it by then.
So pass the Mogen-David, let's make some shirts!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)