Taking the High Road

10 03 2011

Seems so easy.

“Great job!  You totally deserved it.”

For the longest time, I was a really good sport.  I would be humbled to run against better, faster, obviously more athletic guys in races.  I would watch in awe as other pianists played with such techinical precision, jealous that I couldn’t do the same.

But as I’ve found, there are things that I can’t have good sportsmanship about.  Things that make me feel like I’m having an ulcer (which is what it feels like at this moment).

As those who have some inkling on the going-ons of my life, I entered the ICBC 180 short film contest back in January after lots of thought about the concept of the film I wanted to make.  It would’ve been so easy to make a video that showed people dying or getting hit by cars and just say, “If you do this, you’re gonna die, just like Jimmy did.”  So after long thinking, I came up with the story for Last Text, where the main character, in the confines of his room, begins to get more and more concerned about his friend after his friend fails to text him back.  The twist at the end is that his friend, who should’ve taken 15, 30 minutes at the most to drive people home from a party hadn’t been checking his phone because he was driving.

Everyone is safe.  The lesson here: don’t let your last text be your last words.

My boyfriend suggested that perhaps we have Plato, our main character, drive around looking for his friend, only to crash into him or something, but I thought that was too melodramatic.  And that’s exactly how I thought when I watched film after film uploaded on the ICBC contest — why does someone have to die to get a message across?  What about positive messages?

So I submitted it, thinking that with the unique names for our characters, the non-melodramatic story, that we would have a good shot at winning.  After submitting the film, other films seemed to get much more views and praise.  At this point, the divide between contest entrant and film critic started to become an issue.  As a fellow submitter, the unspoken etiquette is to be supportive of everyone.  On the other hand, I felt that after watching some films, I didn’t think they were that good.  And I believed I was being fairly objective about it too.  It’s not like I didn’t like ALL the films submitted — there were really outstanding ones that I thought would definitely win (A Memory Still and [W]reckless in particular).

Eventually, I had to stop checking up on my video and reading comments because they made me angry — angry because I genuinely believed I had a good, different way of conveying a message to young drivers but no one seemed to notice and the ones that did only criticized it.  When I got the email that Last Text had been shortlisted to 10 films in the distracted driving category, I was so thrilled.  I felt like the panel who picked these films were able to see the merit in my film.  It was validation for me, which, frankly, I don’t get very often.

Now, I will admit there were some high quality films in that category, and that making the next cut would be difficult, which, as it turned out, our film didn’t make the cut.  But oh well.  Other better films would probably win.  I had no doubt about that.

Last night was the ceremony and the announcement of the winners, and the official list was posted on the ICBC website.  I was under the impression that the next cut was down to the top 3 videos frrom each category when in fact it was actually 6.  When I found this out, along with seeing the titles of other films which I thought for sure wouldn’t make it to the next cut, I was floored.

I wasn’t even in the top 6.

Yeah, boo hoo.  I’m a bad sport, I have no sportsmanship, and I’m a sore loser.  Yes, those things are obvious.

But going back to being a good sport, I wouldn’t have minded if I lost to someone better, someone with a better film.  And the two winners in the category definitely had better, better-made films.  Congrats to them.  I’m actually happy (and not surprised) they won.

But to find out from that some of the other top 6 films, some of which I didn’t think were very good to begin with, when they made the cut… well, you can imagine how that might feel like.

It’s hard to take the high road, to say “Congratulations” when you honestly feel that after all the effort, all the thinking to do something different than others, the overall product was better than other people’s.  That’s not to say that my film is Oscar-winning by any means, but relatively speaking.

If  hadn’t become clear already, I don’t enjoy losing, for the most part, and obviously I won’t stay angry at this forever.  I don’t know if this is something I should get to used to feeling or if it’s something I need to change about myself, but if that’s the case, does that mean I can’t have opinions?

In any case, I’ll stop thinking about this and making myself look like a whiney douche.

As much as it still stirs up something in me, congrats to the winners.



3 responses

12 03 2011

You also have to keep in mind that often the company that is sponsoring a contest is looking for certain things that are consistent with their “image” or message. Perhaps ICBC wanted less allusion to Greek philosophy and more melodrama? Hahaha I honestly don’t know what goes on in the minds of scumb- I mean marketing people.

I watched some of the other Distracted Driving ones. 1st is pretty good, 2nd is really boring, 3rd was really obvious (I saw the ending coming once she started to walk down the street), 4th didn’t make sense, 5th was actually pretty funny, and the 6th was really really cookie cutter.

I liked your film overall, although I was sort of confused by the Greek names. It was definitely a lot better than 2,3,4 and 6.

“I don’t know if this is something I should get to used to feeling or if it’s something I need to change about myself, but if that’s the case, does that mean I can’t have opinions?”

I think it’s a completely natural emotion. I remember in my 200-level Women’s Studies class, I was a 4th year student amongst 1st and 2nd year students with more knowledge about feminist theory, lit theory, and film theory. I wrote papers that got 90% and over. I was sure I’d have a really good overall mark, but I found out some 2nd year kid who – if his presentation and questions in class reflected anything – didn’t know much got the highest mark in the class.

I was soooo annoyed. People who didn’t even know the difference between the different waves of feminism or revolutionary-era China got the same or higher marks than I did, even though I incorporated lots of stuff into my papers and presentations that no one else seemed to be aware of.

But I realized I didn’t have to be miserable. Being jealous, being angry, all these emotions are natural, but they’re not helpful or healthy in the long run. Your film is not “you,” neither are the emotions you feel. Success, failure, love, hate, etc are all transitory. Even if you did get 1st place, the feeling of success would wane – we all know about “15 mins of fame” – and eventually your success would be forgotten. Same goes for many things. Popular kids in high school are reduced to virtual “nobodies” once they go to college.

Impermanence, transience. Things come and go. This is a fact of life. I think if one becomes comfortable with this notion then life can become more peaceful since one doesn’t have the illusion that they have to cling to something as it is going away.

13 03 2011

Thanks, Dan. That was actually surprisingly reassuring /comforting (I don’t know if that was your intention but that’s what I got from your comment), and I don’t think I’m easily comforted. 🙂

22 03 2011

Yes that was more or less my intention.

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