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Part 5: La La Land – New York, North Carolina & LA in twelve days … the USA adventure that was … #LosAngeles #SupportIndieFilm #usa #Shakespeare

Freehand Hotel, Downtown LA

And so, we finally come to the last instalment of our epic USA tour. Five flights down, we finally landed in LA once more for the last few days of our time in America, all ready for some R&R. Little did we know there was one last bit of excitement to come … from Rio!

What an epic month November was! Republic members Sally McLean and Billy Smedley had the great pleasure of travelling around America for the Republic in the lead up to Thanksgiving, as you may have seen from our social media updates, and so we’re giving you a quick round-up of everything that happened, because it was an action-packed trip and we want to share it with you as much as possible! So here’s Part Five and the last instalment of the Republic’s USA trip, straight from Creator/Director, Sally McLean …

Republic Director, Sally McLean with the rather good latte discovered at the Hotel’s Coffee Bar.

I will confess that it seemed a bit odd to be in LA for rest and recuperation, considering we’re in the biz and it’s the Mecca for the biz in general. But, we had deliberately booked a hotel that had an upstairs rooftop pool and bar so we could just hang out there for the two and half days until our flight to New Zealand was ready to leave, and it would take a LOT to drag us away from there, as it turned out!

Our first day was just Billy and I hanging out at the hotel and working our way through the cocktail menu on the roof (yes, I know, a hard life for some!). And I will confess we were a little too excited to find out that the bar and pool remained open until 2am. But then we remembered that Rio was livestreaming their Awards in Brazil, where the Republic was up for Best Original Idea, so we dragged ourselves back to the hotel room to watch the events unfold …

As you can see in the above video, we were absolutely thrilled that we did tune in!! We were totally over-the-moon to discover that the Republic had won our category at Rio WebFest and taken home the Best Original Idea Award!! Amazing!! (If you haven’t watched the video, then you have to – just to see Billy’s happy dance … it’s a classic!)

Needless to say, we were straight back up to the rooftop bar to celebrate, so that turned into a rather late night!

Billy Smedley, Phoebe Anne Taylor and Sally McLean at the Chinese Theatre in LA

But we were up again reasonably early, because our favourite travel companion had landed in LA and was ready to hang out for some more fun! Phoebe had booked into a hotel a block away from ours, and as Billy hadn’t seen any of LA before, she and I decided to hit Hollywood Boulevard with him so he could see at least a couple of tourist things while there. The above photo doesn’t actually convey his response – he was quite happy to find a couple of stars on the Walk of Fame, as well as check out the size of various people’s feet and hands at the Chinese Theatre.

Billy looking very happy to find Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Lee’s stars …

That was our only foray outside the hotel. Apart from going to find a bottle shop at midnight, which was it’s own adventure in Downtown LA, there’s not really much more to share from this part of the trip. Lots of chatting, hanging by the pool, drinking cocktails and the usual thing you do when you’re trying to get some downtime. We did end up with an extra night in LA, as our flight to Auckland was cancelled, but really, it wasn’t that much of a trial … as you can see from the pictures below!

I do need to give a shoutout to the Freehand Hotel in LA for being rather awesome. We were only meant to stay there for a couple of nights, but ended up needing to stay for another, due to our flight being cancelled on what was supposed to be our last day in LA. We’d already checked out of the hotel and were facing having to spend 36 hours at an airport hotel, unless there was a spare room at the Freehand (which Air New Zealand agreed to partly cover). The concierge staff at the Freehand were amazing – really sympathetic to our plight (which also included being low on funds, as it was the end of the trip), and organized a King Size Room at the rate we’d been paying for a Studio for the extra night. All sorted out in 15 minutes and so we settled in for a surprise extra day in LA, which really, we couldn’t complain about. There are worse places to be stuck due to a cancelled flight 😉

Sally McLean, Billy Smedley and Phoebe Anne Taylor in the Lobby of Freehand, LA just before Sally and Billy left for the airport

And so, the actual, final day of our departure from the USA arrived. We hung out with Phoebe all of our last day, again drinking cocktails and eating burgers at the rooftop bar (which is called the “Broken Shaker” for those who might be wondering), before heading downstairs to collect our luggage and wait for our Lyft to take us to LAX.

And so, with the last two flights of the seven in total we’d taken over 12 days finally beginning, that was the end of the adventure that was our trip to the USA, or, as I like to call it “The Epic Shakespeare Tour Including New York, Greater LA & The Happy Experience Which Apex Totally Enabled – Represent Shakespeare!”. Or, “TESTINGTHEWATERS” 😉

A tired, but happy Sally McLean and Billy Smedley wait at LAX for their flight to Auckland and then Melbourne at the end of their epic USA trip for the Republic

Thank you to NYC WebFest, the CINE Golden Eagle Awards, Peak City International Film Festival, Rio WebFest, all our friends and family that we got to catch up with and spend time with, Auspicious Arts Projects Inc. for helping us to manage our budget and insurances for travel, all our incredible supporters and donors who helped us create Season Two, which gave us the reason to travel to the USA, Independent Schools Victoria and the Arts Learning Festival for commissioning our short film Speaking Daggers, which was our reason for travelling to North Carolina, James Stafford for taking such good care of us in New York, the Holiday Inn Express, Apex for taking care of us in North Carolina and the Freehand Hotel for being so good to us in LA.

It was a trip to remember for all the right reasons and we look forward to returning sometime in the near future.

More news coming soon, as so much has been going on since we got back, but, until then …

Stay well, be kind to each other, be happy and speak anon.