Monday, October 25, 2010

Wow. (Part 2)

I guess I should conclude yesterday's epic, as some people were outraged at the sight of a cliffhanger.

After realizing we had no toothpaste in the hotel, Chie and I headed over to The Tractor Room, aka The Let's-Try-To-Kill-Our-Customers-With-The-Amount-Of-Food-We-Give-Them Room, with the rest of the people from our gala table. Seriously, if it weren't for the surprisingly small cream pourers, I would've mistaken the place for some sort of gigantism rehab clinic. With pancakes the size of a small child and eggs benedict piled as high as Nate Robinson, I was pretty sure nobody would finish any of their food. The freakin' cornbread was the size of my face and was hardly touched by a single person. Makes me wonder what the place does with all the leftover food. I'm gonna guess feed it to the wolves in the back room that are already feasting the flesh of fallen customers.

Once everyone had fallen into a nice food coma, it was onward to the festival, where we presumably were going to watch our films and fall asleep in the middle of the panel.

Upon approaching the box office, I could feel an aura surrounding the festival. Not a bad one, like someone farted or something, but a good one. It's tough to explain, but I can say with confidence that I felt very much at home. After ogling at the many asian-themed t-shirts they had for sale, everyone filed into the theater. At the front they had seven seats for us panel members to sit and answer boring questions from the audience. Before we even got to that, though, we watched some of the commissioned shorts and then OUR shorts (hurray!), then were called down to the stage .

I have to say, sitting there in front of a packed theater, all of whom had just watched my film, was pretty awesome. Whether anybody in the audience liked it or not, at least I'm able to say fuck yeah, I made that, and here I am.

The panel started off easily enough. What are your goals? What inspired you to make this? Et cetera? One question I liked, though, was about our film's budget. Both Andrew and Aldous (the other two [awesome] winners who were there) spoke about paying their actors or finding props at an Eat Pray Love garage sale. I just told everyone how I spent a dollar fifty on the bottle. And it came with a free coke. Or maybe it's the other way around. In any case, I felt compelled to lighten things up when it came time for me to speak because, well, why not? People enjoy laughing, and if they don't, then they better run. Because I'm coming after them with my screwdriver and hammer to pry off that human mask that hides their robotic insides.

After what felt like only a couple minutes (time sure flew by) the panel was over. I was enjoying myself so much, I had a hard time leaving the stage. Literally. People were walking all over the front and I didn't want to jump down and kill them.

Back in the lobby, while walking out the door, one guy came up to me and asked if I would be available to do an interview for (a website? magazine? iono I wasn't paying attention. i was just in awe that he asked for it in the first place). I took out the only business card that I had with me (thanks dad) and gave it to him. Well that was surprising.

As soon as I stepped and got a whiff of that nice, warm San Diego air, I was pulled over to the purple backdrop nearby for photos. Picture tiiiiiime!!! I think I spent a good 15-20 minutes doing that, finding nearly every person I met over the course of the weekend and propping my arm around their shoulder with a smile. Tiring? Yes. Awkward? Absolutely not. I'd gone from drinking Stella in the corner of the gala to someone who people are ASKING to take a picture with. Bizarre (even more bizarre than the not-Glee lady).

After all the commotion died down and we finally decided to head home, my family and I celebrated with my 10% off discount to Yogurtland. (Tip: Red velvet & Taro flavors are amazing) I ran into Andrew there (one of the other Interpretations winners) and we chatted a bit before he gave me his card, mentioning something about working on some projects and editing. Sweet.

I went to get some water from the fountain inside when the elderly couple sitting next to it decided to mention to me, "Hey, you were funny!" I assumed they were at the panel discussion, so I thanked them. It felt pretty weird getting noticed like that by complete strangers. Complete OLD strangers, too. I even shook their hand. They were just some random festival goers who happened to be craving yogurt at the same time I was, and yet it felt like I had met them before somewhere. I guess that's just what film does: Bringing people together.

I don't think I stopped smiling the entire way home.

Now, back home, as the latest patch of World of Warcraft installs on my computer, I must ask myself: Did this whole weekend really happen? Was I really rubbing shoulders with big name celebrities? Were people asking for MY card? Was all that Stella really free? As I stare at the Interpretations website, the plaque with my named engraved in it, and this enormous jug of cognac, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that yes, it really did happen. It was one of the most amazing experiences in my life and I feel extremely privileged to have been a part of it.

I can't be more thankful for the people at Interpretations for basically plucking me out of the obscurity--I'd been doing nothing but dwelling in my cave for the last couple months--and dropping in the center of this cinema blitzkrieg. I had no clue what I was getting myself into when I agreed to attend the festival, but I now realize just how much it changed everything.

If anyone out there is thinking about their dreams and tossing them aside at the sight of how farfetched they are, I wouldn't give up so easily. However cliche this might sound, don't ever count yourself out. Hell, I'm a testament to how easily someone can go from sitting in their parents' basement to walking the red carpet in just a matter of weeks. All it takes is that one opportunity and a little bit of confidence. Okay, maybe some hard work, too.

In order to keep this from sounding less like a Tony Robbins best-seller and more like a Joey Yee blog post, I will say this: The whole thing, from beginning to end, has been a-fucking-mazing. Food was superb, people were incredible, and the alcohol was free. It was like a "Choose-Your-Own-Adventure" book with no bad endings. It made me recognize just how much pride and confidence I have in my own work, and that I can really pursue this as my career. It was one of the most unpredictable, exhilarating, and enjoyable things I've ever done and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.

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