An Emotionally Safe Distance

What is a safe distance? Emotionally? Even the sun is only 8 minutes away.

Three years ago my dear friend and collaborator Charlene Sun was killed in an automobile collision. I miss her still. Charlene and I first worked together and got to know each other in a class where we shared cinematography duties. Our partnership went so well that we continued thereafter - I would light when she was shooting and she would light when I was shooting. I was always impressed with her visual acumen and artistic sensibilities. And she was always a joy to work with and to be around.

She was also a true friend. She gave me a lot of support though some of the roughest passages in my life. Her famously bubbly demeanor and cheerful attitude sometimes belied her tremendous intelligence and depth of understanding, and yet this infectious joy suited her well.

Prior to pursuing her dreams as a filmmaker she had been a doctor. You can guess who I called when I went to a hospital in Vietnam with serious eye irritation and passed out after they told me they wanted to stick a needle in my eye to get a speck of something out. I am very sensitive to touch around my eyes and reflexively jerk away from contact. They had a hard time just getting me to be still during the examination. And they were talking about needles. In a hospital that makes my apartment seem sterile. I was terrified. She helped calm me down. And suggested I ask them to try a Q-tip.  Which worked.

At that time she was really excited because one of her favorite film directors had somehow heard about her artwork and hired her to do concept art for a couple films he was working on. I'm glad she was able to spend some years doing the things she loved. She was a fantastic artist, a wonderful person, and the world is a lesser place for her absence.

Artwork by Charlene Sun.

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