There are tricks that veteran travelers use to make their journeys feel more like home. Frequent flyers pack a pillow or a favorite tea, bringing comfort to a small space. Commuters put on a playlist to muffle the sound of traffic. Little adjustments like these can help make a trip go by faster. But as Josh Kang and Carissa Gallo explore in their short film The Perfect Place to Be, when you have the right traveling companion, suddenly the car seat can feel as comfortable as home.
Josh and Carissa are two filmmakers whose creative lives began elsewhere. Josh was a musician and Carissa a photographer, but they found filmmaking through their love for storytelling. They met online—Josh reached out to Carissa after admiring her work—and began collaborating. But when Josh approached her with the script for The Perfect Place, a film commissioned by The Lincoln Motor Company, it would be the first time the duo would work together as co-directors.Play Pause Volume Fullscreen
Josh wrote the story of Ashley and Adam, a young couple who uproot from their comfortable lives in Los Angeles and move up the coast to Portland, Oregon, the car their interim home. They find adventure just outside its doors in one moment, and in the next, they sleep peacefully in its front seats. The dashboard becomes a makeshift mantelpiece as the days pass, holding souvenirs of driftwood, pebbles and long grasses. The script was a personal project for Josh, who’d been longing to escape city life for the Pacific Northwest.
“It’s kind of my dream, moving to Portland and getting out of the city,” says Josh. “I’m single and Carissa and her husband are a happy couple. So I felt like they’d really understand the love story.”
As personal as the script was for Josh, it resonated strongly with Carissa. Not only had she and her husband moved across the country twice, but the film’s quieter moments echoed her experiences. Once, when her husband picked her up at an east coast airport after a cross-country flight, he welcomed her with a car filled with brilliantly colored fall leaves.
“I grew up in California and autumn doesn’t really happen that way there,” says Carissa. “That was just the way he wanted to welcome me to his world.”
At the film’s core is the idea of how two people can find a sanctuary of sorts even when their lives are in flux. Though they’re constantly moving and even a little afraid of what’s to come, when Adam and Ashley are together, their doubts fall away. The actors communicate with an ease that comes from real life intimacy; they’re a couple in real life. While on set, Josh handled the camera while Carissa set up each shot, and both filmmakers were determined to capture the couple’s nuances, or a spontaneous kiss on the cheek.
“Sometimes their intimacy created something that we hadn’t scripted,” says Carissa. “So Josh had to be recording the whole time to capture moments happening while they were waiting for the next scene.”
Although The Perfect Place to Be follows a couple in love, Josh and Carissa are adamant that the film is about more than romance. The filmmakers want to convey a feeling of being at home, a sense of belonging that isn’t tied to location. It’s elusive, a combination of time and personal connections. For Carissa, home is with her husband and children. For Josh, home is a city awaiting him on the Northwest coast. As Ashley says at the film’s end,
“The perfect place to be isn’t a place that exists.”
Indeed. It’s much bigger than that.