Saturday, April 3, 2010

And the Oscar Goes To...

Dearest Readers,

If you had the opportunity to meet someone who had won an Academy Award, wouldn't you be tempted to ask him about it? Isn't it something you'd be curious about despite the frivolity of it all? Come on, admit it. You'd wanna know. Wouldn't you?

Yesterday I attended a workshop here at the Dawson City International Short Film Festival with Chris Landreth, who won the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film in 2004. Mr. Landreth is a good speaker and an even better teacher and it was a super-informative session on psychorealism in animation and creative inspiration.

When the time came for Q&A some of us asked questions about Landreth's process and personal history and this created all kinds of further fascinating discussion. But not one person asked about the Oscar. So I put up my hand.

"What's it like to be the only person in a room who's won an Academy Award?"


"To be honest, that all feels like a really f%&$ing long time ago."

Oh. Okay. Was this a sensitive issue? Maybe not. Maybe he just gets tired of being asked about it. After all, who cares? Really. It's just a gold friggin' statue. Most winners keep it in the bathroom. Or on the top shelf of the walk-in closet. It's totally meaningless in the Big Picture.

But I pressed on.

"You have to admit it's a huge thing, though, and people want to hear about it, because the Oscars play such a big role in this industry."

At that point someone in the audience, a friend of Landreth's called out, "What were you wearing, Chris?"

After making a joke about his friend being a shill (a person deliberately planted in the audience to play along -- I had to ask him later what he'd meant by that) Landreth admitted the Oscar had been a good thing, he'd had fun, he'd enjoyed it.

Boy, was I glad. I had begun to feel like an arsehole for even asking about it. I'm a showbiz junkie, I admit it. I've got a whole mental filing cabinet of Oscar speeches ready to go. If it's featherbrained to want to know how winning the biggest award in the entertainment industry has changed a person's life then, yuppers, I've got feathers for brains.

But come on, man. You won an Oscar. As a storyteller I'm like, hello! Great story opportunity, ya know? Tell us about it why dontcha!

Sure, it gets tiring answering the same question all the time. I can't tell you how many times I've been asked, "So what was your inspiration for the idea behind XYZ?"

It's tempting to say, "Oh, God. That is such a boring question. Next!" But I have to remember that I'm in a different place each time the question is asked and the people in this particular audience haven't heard the same answer I've given a thousand times. I consider it my job to be responsive and engaging.

Don't get me wrong. Landreth was all of that and more. I was just a little taken aback by the F-Bomb. But I put myself out there to ask the question he's probably been asked a million times and that's what I got. It was interesting.

And he wore a black tux.

Inspiring Message of the Day: Nothing ventured, nothing gained, folks. And if I ever get a chance to use one of my Oscar speeches and you ask me about it later, I will do my best to give you the full story, even if it's the 489th time I've been asked.

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