“I thought L.A. traffic was bad… and then I lived in China for two years.”
That’s what “Wish Dragon” director Chris Appelhans told me when I recently interviewed him for his new Sony and Netflix animated feature (debuting next Friday June 11th). Appelhans believes traffic in and around the city of Los Angeles is “nothing” compared to what he experienced in China while making “Wish Dragon”.
It even inspired a scene in the movie (set in China) in which taxi riders Din and his dragon Long are furious while stuck in a nightmare of a traffic jam.
I used to HATE traffic when I was young. I’ve gotten better at dealing with it. Well… sort of.
A lot of the professional aspects of my life have revolved around being “on the go”. During my visits to L.A. and New York City, especially, I try to squeeze-in as much as possible. That can mean two or three movies and/or two or three events, appearances, meetings or in-person interviews in a day.
It’s a necessity to plan it all out in advance but also expect the unexpected. It’s always great to yourself breathing room in the likely event of being stuck in traffic.
On a more local level, it’s about getting to movie screenings and showings on time. Especially if it’s a one-time only advance screening or you’ve bought tickets in advance. I also don’t want to show up late to a press or press & audience screening of a film (where I already have confirmed reserved seating) and hold everyone up.
My patience has been tested a few times over the last 16 years, and I’ve had some close calls. In 2011, got out of a cab and ran through the streets of Chicago to make it to a showing of the documentary “Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop”. I remember running down a hill in 2018 to make sure I didn’t miss the first few minutes of “Hereditary”. That ended-up being a waste of energy.
At least there are ways to pass the time and calm down a bit if you’re stuck in traffic. There are tons of L.A. radio stations. And I remember when there WEREN’T TVs in NYC cabs. I’m glad they were put in. Watching clips of popular network shows and New York centric ads is a good way to pass the time during your ride… hopefully only about 10 or 15 minutes. But when those video clips start repeating… it may be time to get out and walk.
If I ever get to visit China, I’ll have to take-up Appelhans’ offer and experience traffic there for myself. It may not be a pleasant experience, but at least I’ll think of “Wish Dragon” and this piece as the horns are honking.