Career Survey, part 1

My teacher and mentor Chris Chomyn takes a career survey of former students for the benefit of his current students. He sent one to me and I spent a couple days answering the questions - it was a nice chance to step back and get some perspective on the past, present, and future.  I'll share a couple things that I cut out.

"What skills do you now know that you need, that you didn’t think were important while you were in school?"

I wish I had learned how to conduct oneself at a major televised awards ceremony in a foreign country. What do you do if you don’t speak the language and most of the people you know are presenting awards, receiving awards or giving interviews to the press?

This happened to me the one night at the Vietnamese Film Festival awards. I tried introducing myself to the guy sitting next to me. Luckily he spoke English but then he won the award for best animation film, went to the stage and back a couple times and became engaged in a press interview. I interrupted his interview to ask where the guy sitting on my other side had gone. Turned out this person hadn’t won an award and decided to go home. I added running off for not having won a prize to the list of things the people might be doing in lieu of telling me what was going on. I also added going to a wedding. I didn’t win any prizes.

Not winning a prize was not a surprise because I don't expect to win any awards. Also, for this ceremony in particular, I didn’t think I had worked on anything in the running. Suddenly I was quite surprised to see a that film that I worked on had been nominated for an award or awards. I think. At least they showed some clips a couple times. I wished I knew what it meant. I'm quite sure it didn't win. I was pleased to learn later that my host won the Silver Lotus and that a film written and directed by an alum of the USC writing program had won the audience award.

At the reception I spent most of the time by myself because the people I knew were busy giving still more interviews and getting their pictures taken. At one point some people I didn’t know asked to take a picture with me. I don’t know why. Perhaps they thought I was famous. After that I mingled a bit and greeted some people I hadn’t seen in a while. For some reason there wasn’t much to talk about. Probably because my Vietnamese is pretty much limited to coffee, food, and lighting equipment. Also, if someone has met me once they already know the answers to The Questions.

At any rate, another thing I didn’t learn in school regarding awards ceremony receptions is what happens when you have been contentedly keeping to yourself and managing to be ignored by everyone in the room for a few minutes and then a couple actresses you know see you and come over to say hi. Suddenly it seems every eye is on you and everyone wants to know who you are. So while I was happy to see a couple friends I hadn't seen in awhile, it became weird and awkward because people began interrupting and introducing themselves. I became nervous and self-conscious. I saw photographers reaching for their cameras and retreated. I am deeply ambivalent about publicity and seeing my picture in the paper. I found my host who was with the director of the film I shot as they were getting ready to leave. On the way out we stopped for a photo that probably went in the paper.

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