The director of the new film ‘Nostalgia’ reflects on the things we keep


Mark Pellington has a confession to make.

He would be more devastated if a fire torched his office on Beverly Boulevard in the Fairfax district of L.A. than his home.

“There’s more irreplaceable memories here than in my house,” the 55-year-old filmmaker said. “And I love my house.”

He also loves where he keeps those memories.

The award-winning video and feature film director (Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy,” plus “Arlington Road” and “The Last Word”) occupies several rooms on the second floor of the castle-style Heinsbergen & Co. Building. Designed by Curlett and Beelman, it was built in 1928 for muralist Anthony Heinsbergen. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

Pellington moved his Pellington Films into the building in 1999 and over the years has acquired more rooms on the second floor to house his 3,000 records, VHS tapes and VHS player, DVDs, audio cassettes, framed letters, magazines, framed posters, vintage cameras, an antique wheelchair, scrapbooks, his MTV VMA Awards, pictures of his teenage daughter, Bella, scrapbooks and paperbacks.


His father, noted Baltimore Colts linebacker Bill Pellington, was with the football team for 12 years, including the 1958 and 1959 award-winning seasons. And his father holds a special place in the office, with pictures, paintings, autographed footballs and even one of his vintage mugs.

“My dad is a big part of me,” Pellington said as he looked at a photo from the late 1950s of his father with Clark Gable, quarterback Johnny Unitas and other members of the team.

Until five years ago, he had never “touched” the office. But he struggled with a problem familiar to many of us: how to balance the memories with design and do so in a way that allows the recollections to come to life and be enjoyed by others.

Pellington hired the interior decorator — Parrish Chilcoat of Cameron Design Group — who had done his house to bring some order and color to the rooms. “She came and picked the paint colors, and that’s when I got everything framed,” he said. “She came in and laid it all out.”

Now there’s a feeling of warmth and memories throughout the rooms — a funky, fun and even sentimental museum.

It seems apropos that his latest film is called “Nostalgia,” which opens Feb 16. Jon Hamm, Ellen Burstyn, Catherine Keener and Bruce Dern star in this heartfelt drama about love, loss, family and dealing with the things left behind.


Three boxes of material, including Pellington senior’s 1951 mug and an old rotary phone, were used in the film. And some of the props, including a vintage wooden racket bought for the film, now grace his office.

“I’ve always been interested in nostalgia,” Pellington said, adding that the film explores “what we collect, why we collect it and why it is so hard to let go.”

But don’t call him a collector.

“It’s my life,” said Pellington, who is a widower. “My dad, things I’ve worked on, people I’ve worked with. It’s history. It’s memory.”

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