Miranda July

Miranda July

July was born Miranda Jennifer Grossinger and raised in the bohemian confines of Berkley, California. Though more intellectual than hippy, her parents owned an independent publishing business, North Atlantic Books, that allowed July to be in the company of strange and obscure writers who sometimes stayed in her home to finish their novels. As a child, the painfully shy July occupied her time by recording one half of a conversation into a tape recorder, before playing it back and adding the second half as she listened. During her high school years, she formed a fanzine called Snarla with a friend, changed her last name to the more art-friendly July, and began producing plays at Berkley's famed punk club, Gillman Street.Despite spending a good amount of her time living in a fantasy world, July longed for normalcy. So she went to college, attending film school at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She dropped out after only 18 months because the all-male program was more interested in making films about guns rather than creating cinematic art. July relocated to Portland, OR in the mid-1990s where she found the artistic community more embracing. Under the looming presence of Mt. Hood, July hit her creative stride, performing with punk groups Ce Ce Barnes Band and The Need, and releasing solo performance CDs on the independent label Kill Rock Stars. She then directed the music video, "Get Up," for riot grrrl band Sleater-Kenney, using the group's Internet fan newsgroup to find extras for the shoot. In 1995, she gained a cult following when she started Big Miss Moviola, an experimental video chain letter that depicted random women on the street being asked what kind of movie they would make if they had the means.In the late 1990s, July began expanding her cult status with her short films, including "The Amateurist" (1998), an experimental portrait of a middle-aged scientist driven to the brink of technology-driven madness while observing a sulking, scantily clad woman. The short won the grand jury prize at the 1998 Cinematexas International Short Film Festival. For "Nest of Tens" (1999), July showed three unnerving scenarios involving children and adults that lifted the rock of society to reveal the squirming uneasiness beneath.July next cemented her place as the darling of live multimedia performance art, performing multiple roles with different voices and numerous costume changes in "Love Diamond," as well as playing a woman who abandoned her own self as expressed through a dreamlike assemblage of vignettes in "The Swan Tool" - both of which were performed at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London and The Kitchen in New York.She gained her first mainstream film experience in "Jesus' Son" (2000), playing the comic role of a nurse with a black eye. After collaborating on the story for Wayne Wang's "Center of the World" (2001), July began producing minute-long audio pieces that appeared on the now-defunct NPR series, "The Next Big Thing." She then submersed herself into writing, churning out short stories, including "Birthmark" and "Making Love in 2003," for The Paris Review, The Harvard Review and Z trope All Story. July was also in the middle of writing her first screenplay - a process she began without the nonsense of attending seminars or reading how-to books. Following its completion, she submitted it to the Sundance Screenwriters Lab, but was rejected. She experienced the same result the following year, but her third attempt proved successful. Under the tutelage of writer-director Miguel Arteta ("The Good Girl" and "Six Feet Under"), she hammered out a good draft and in 2004, a year after leaving the lab, she began shooting her first feature."Me and You and Everyone We Know" told the story of Christine (July), a lonely artist and driver for homebound elderly people, who falls for a recently divorced and naturally skittish sh salesman, Richard (John Hawkes). Adding to the film's tone of sexual anxiety are Richard's two sons, Robby (Brandon Ratcliff), a precocious but innocent seven-year-old who strikes up an Internet romance with an older woman, and Peter, a fourteen-year-old who's being used by two neighborhood girls as a guinea pig for their future romantic practices. The film was an instant hit at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, earning a special jury prize for originality of vision and the amorous attention of über-critic Roger Ebert. "Me and You" also journeyed to Cannes where it won four prizes, including the Camera d'Or for first-time director. After an exhausting round of press interviews, July slipped back into the comfort of relative obscurity to finish a book of short stories.