First-time below-the-line contenders feel the rush
Everyone lavishes attention on actors, directors, writers and producers the moment they’re nominated for an Oscar, but does the same hold true for those toiling in below-the-line categories?
Daily Variety polled eight such nominees — working in film editing, sound mixing and makeup — to find out how their lives had changed and whether their job prospects had improved since the Academy’s dawn announcement on Feb. 2.
For all, suddenly it was party time.
“I’ve been to a lot more parties than I’ve ever been to before,” said first-time Oscar nominee Tony Lamberti, who got the nom for sound mixing on “Inglourious Basterds” (along with previous Oscar winners Michael Minkler and Mark Ulano). “We’re just enjoying the moment of being able to hang out with filmmakers.”
“There are lots of parties that apparently only Oscar nominees get invited to,” said John Refoua, nominated for film editing on “Avatar.” It’s an honor he shares with helmer James Cameron and film editor Stephen Rivkin, recipient of multiple BAFTA and guild noms. But there was no love until now from the Academy. “Mayor Villaraigosa is having a party at his house today for all the nominees,” he added. “They say he does it every year.”
The nominees’ phones are also busier, with calls of congratulations from friends, family, colleagues and — of course — their agents and managers.
“Moe Montoya at iTalent was pretty excited,” said Barney Burman, nominated for makeup on “Star Trek” (along with Mindy Hall, also a first-time nominee, and multiple Emmy and guild winner Joel Harlow). “He quickly changed his website to showcase that he had an Oscar-nominated client.”
Julian Clarke, cited by the Academy for film editing on “District 9,” noted that he has “two agents, and they’re both very excited. There’s more potential for them, as well as for me. This is good for everyone.”
Agent praises notwithstanding, the glow of an Oscar nom doesn’t immediately translate into job offers, some of this year’s nominees have learned.
“My agent was ecstatic, but as far as jobs go, the phone has not been ringing off the hook,” said Joe Klotz, film editor on “Precious.” “Then again, I’m finishing ‘Rabbit Hole’ (with John Cameron Mitchell and Nicole Kidman) and haven’t been available, but I will be in a week or so,” he added.
Burman agreed. “Since the nomination I’ve gotten a lot of support from producers, friends and people I’ve worked with,” he said. “But the work load hasn’t increased. The year started off really slow and I thought, hey, I’m nominated and people will call me, but so far they haven’t. But I’m having such a good time that it’s nice not to have work distracting me.”
“The phone rings a lot from colleagues in the business,” said Jon Henry Gordon, nominated for makeup on “The Young Victoria” (shared with multiple past nominee Jenny Shircore). “I’m waiting on the producers.”
Still, it’s likely that jobs will begin to flow to the nominees after the Oscars are handed out March 7.
“I was working on a project so I haven’t begun job rounds yet,” Clarke said. “It seems like more people are interested in meeting me. Even after the success of ‘District 9,’ no one really wanted to talk to the editor. There were all sorts of more glamorous people to talk to. But once the nom came, the media was exponentially more interested in me. I hope to be able to choose the projects I work on rather than have it be like, ‘Oh, someone wants to hire me.’?”
Bob Murawski, editor of “The Hurt Locker,” said he was surprised by the nomination “because ours was such a small movie.” (He shares the nom with his wife Chris Innis, also a first-timer.) “I think it lends an air of legitimacy to everything,” which will help with future jobs.
“I think we’ll reap the benefits of being nominated later in the year, when new clients come calling,” Lamberti said. “That’s when it will be a phone-ringing-off-the-hook kind of thing.”
Klotz got his job on “Rabbit Hole” more than six months before his nom. “The producers had heard of ‘Precious’ and called (helmer) Lee (Daniels). He gave me a recommendation and told them, ‘Make sure he’s done before I start my next one.’ That’s a double endorsement.”
All the nominees were pondering their speeches long before Oscar night.
“We’ve been working on that,” Burman said. “There are three of us on the ticket, and we’re figuring out what to say and who should say it.”
Lamberti is in the same boat. “If we get it, I’ll be going up with a three-time winner (Michael Minkler). We’ve talked about it a little bit. I’m perfectly happy to let him take the reins if it happens.”
“I have a speech and I’m trying to keep it short,” said Innis, nommed as film editor on “The Hurt Locker” along with fellow first-timer and husband Murawski. “When you’re up there, your mouth and your brain sort of disconnect, so I’m gonna try to keep calm.”
Everyone will be relieved when it’s all over.
“This is like the Super Bowl of film awards,” Innis said. “Every night there’s an event and people wanting to do things. Somebody should write a manual on how to get through the season. We’ll be glad to get some sleep again on March 8.”