Work / Film

Dress Code’s heartwarming film about Ruben Pardo – the oldest elevator operator in Los Angeles

For forty years Ruben Pardo has worked as a lift operator at 5514 Wilshire Boulevard, an Art Deco tower in LA. Production company Dress Code has created a heartwarming short film about the man and his life. We asked Dress Code’s founder Dan Covert to tell us a little more about why he chose to tell Ruben’s story.

“I first met Ruben five or six years ago when I started making art pilgrimages to LA. The Ace Gallery is located in a cavernous museum-quality space on the second floor of the building that Ruben works in. They are one of the giants of the LA art scene—like Gagosian, Matthew Marks or David Kordansky.

Ruben is a charming older man, who always had a smile on his face and a funny saying to freshen up your day. What hooked me on my first visit was him saying ‘Second floor, Ace Gallery… Ace is the place’. He just takes so much pride in being a joy to the world and making people’s days brighter, even though he may not have been dealt the best hand in life, he doesn’t let that phase him. His positivity is infectious.

The building at 5514 Wilshire Blvd, is called the Wilshire Tower and used to be home of Desmond’s Department Store a long time ago. It’s located in an area called Miracle Mile. It’s a beautiful Art Deco tower that’s 11 floors tall and mostly houses creative companies now. Every detail of the building is considered–the stones in the floor, the details in the carved concrete, the stunning mahogany elevator. It’s a building of a bygone era, and Ruben is a man of a bygone generation who has been operating this elevator for forty years.

Ruben takes pride in his work and he works super hard (six days a week). He travels an hour and a half to his job both ways, every day. Taking a series of busses to a job he loves, and helps make the world a happier place one joke at a time.

Dress Code is a small production company. We mostly make commercials, animations and shorter docs/branded content. But we make two to three self-funded films a year because it’s fun, we learn a lot doing them and they usually get a decent amount of attention in festivals and online. That’s why we started a company, to make things we are proud of. And we had to share Ruben’s story with the world.

Every time I go to LA my girlfriend Jacqueline asked “when are you going to make a film about Ruben?” We were going to be in LA for some other shoots, so we carved out a day and a half and made this. We wanted to release it in conjunction with Ruben’s 40th anniversary, which was 14 August. It’s amazing he’s been in the same job for 40 years! At 75, he is no doubt the oldest manual elevator operator in LA, if not the States.”

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Dress Code: Ruben’s Elevator

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Dress Code: Ruben’s Elevator

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Dress Code: Ruben’s Elevator

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Dress Code: Ruben’s Elevator

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Dress Code: Ruben’s Elevator