IndieFest selection LETS RUIN IT WITH BABIES in the NY Times

Posted by sfindie January 3, 2014 3496 views

The New York Times talks the genesis of IndieFest 2014 selection LETS RUIN IT WITH BABIES, RVIP Lounge, and puts filmmaker Kestrin Pantera on the record as a cat lady 😉



There’s Room for One More Aboard the R.V.


Promises, promises. While color palettes and canapés are deliberations made months before a wedding, a couple’s vows can sometimes sound like a tired recitation of have, hold, sickness and health.

Not so at the 2010 wedding of Kestrin Pantera and Jonathan Grubb, both now 34.

Accompanied by cheers and laughter from 250 guests, the couple, who met in 2006 at the Burning Man arts event in Nevada, vowed to “throw radical parties” and “remain curious,” among a long list of oaths, both esoteric and practical, that included giving shoulder rubs, cleaning up their own messes and communicating effectively.

Ms. Pantera also promised to make babies, and Mr. Grubb to change diapers.

After their Bay Area wedding, the couple, who live in Los Feliz, a trendy enclave of Los Angeles, tackled their vows to-do list with gusto.

But while Mr. Grubb, a veteran of many technology companies, was ready to start their family, Ms. Pantera, an actress, musician and film director, wanted to tackle the party part of their promises. After negotiating with her husband, she gained a year’s reprieve on baby making.

That first year, Mr. Grubb commuted to San Francisco for work every other week — a cycle that gave Ms. Pantera, who feared being overshadowed by her husband’s large personality and the demands of coupledom, time to adjust to married life, and to miss Mr. Grubb.

During the weeks Mr. Grubb was away, Ms. Pantera focused on the couple’s event business, the RVIP Lounge, a mobile karaoke bar housed in a 37-foot recreational vehicle. She took the karaoke bar to lucrative corporate parties and film festivals, working hard but also, she said, “partying like a rock star.” One night, she shuttled on a private plane between two events, fulfilling her vow of “creating a force field of awesomeness.” She also landed some acting jobs in commercials.

Still, parenthood loomed. Ms. Pantera, an only child, worried that having children would dampen her lifestyle, slow her acting career and prevent her from making a film, which was at the top of her list of creative goals. And, truth be told, she had never felt all that comfortable with children. She favored kittens over kids, having had up to nine cats at one time while growing up.

Mr. Grubb, one of five children, argued his position, alluding to the challenges of aging eggs and listing the Obamas, Martin Scorsese and Tina Fey as people they both admired who were also parents. He emphasized his “ready” status.

“ ‘Easy for you to say, dude,’ ” Ms. Pantera, who was in the best shape of her life, recalled telling him. “I had hit my target weight, which had never happened before. I was not ready to go into the baby zone yet.”

He tried to apply a tech start-up philosophy to the challenge. In his world, those who waited for the perfect moment, the perfect team or the perfect technology failed. The best way to start something was to start, he said, and then to make adjustments once it was up and running. She said she aspired to make both movies and babies, but he saw neither in development.

Motivated by his tough-love attitude, she began writing a film script. Shooting began in 2012 on a cross-country trip in the couple’s R.V. In an art-imitates-life scenario, the plot followed a young artistic couple debating whether to start a family. They had starring roles as themselves.

While the cameras rolled, so did the RVIP Lounge. Guests at the couple’s gigs signed on as extras in the film. Sometimes the adventure of making a film and traveling was magical, with everything falling into place. Other times it was chaotic, as when the windshield of the bus broke in remote Californian farmland.

For Ms. Pantera, the challenges of juggling work and organizing the film shoot reached a peak in April 2012. She was editing a scene in which her character talked about not being ready to have a baby. There, in front of the computer, she burst into tears.

Minutes later, she was waving a positive pregnancy test at Mr. Grubb. The couple had figured procreative success would take months, not two weeks. Suddenly they were in a race to finish shooting before her baby bump messed up the plotline.

In January 2013, with “Let’s Ruin It With Babies” nearly finished, Elektra Grubb Pantera made her entrance. True to his vows, Mr. Grubb changes diapers.

Now, a year later, Ms. Pantera wonders why she worried so much about marriage and motherhood. Elektra, whom Ms. Pantera refers to playfully as Kitten, is an easy baby who sleeps perfectly, even through raging parties.

“I admit, I run pretty anxious when faced with great change,” Ms. Pantera said.

Mr. Grubb, on the other hand, who was familiar with babies because of his large family, adapted quickly to parenthood. “Change never frightens me,” he said.

The two don’t go out together as much as they used to. She enjoys going out alone while her husband has baby duty, though most nights she is as eager to get home from partying as she is to go out.

The couple swaps out the baby several times a day. He takes the late-morning shift at a cafe, where Elektra sleeps and he concentrates on his new technology venture, Iris.TV. Ms. Pantera juggles her shifts with promoting her film, which was released nationwide on Dec. 10 on video on-demand and will have a limited theatrical release in the coming months. She is working on a television pilot based on the film and writing her next script, titled “I’m a Terrible Mother.”

Mr. Grubb says his wife is anything but. “Kestrin is a great mother,” he said. “The people who fear they have bad breath are never the people who actually do.”

The question of more children (when, not if) has been raised. How many is uncertain. He says he would be fine with four, and happy with three. “But I may be inflating the numbers as a negotiating tactic,” he said.

“Call it two right now,” she said.

They say that when they vowed “to sing to each other daily,” they had imagined 4 a.m. karaoke sessions, not 6 a.m. ditties to the baby. “But it’s just as good,” Ms. Pantera said. “Even better.”