Oscars 2010: Talking to our local nominee about his Oscar night
It's taken a few days to fully recover from the red-carpet chaos and statuette-distributing insanity that was this year's Academy Awards. Now that I can both inhale and exhale, I'm finally getting around to posting my last awards-season update on Gregg Helvey, a native of Loudon County, Va., who was nominated in the live-action short film category for "Kavi," a look at an Indian boy attempting to escape the shackles of slave labor.
Helvey didn't win an Oscar on Sunday; the honor in his category went instead to "The New Tenants." But as he told me during a phone conversation the day after the Big Night, the whole experience was still "like a dreamworld."
Helvey -- accompanied by his wife Margaux, his parents and the young star of his movie, Sagar Salunke -- walked the red carpet, where he had the first of two encounters with another fellow nominee and Virginia native: Sandra Bullock. He spoke with her again after the Oscars had come to a close: "When I saw her at the end of the Governors Ball, I said 'Go Northern Virginia!'" Helvey remembers. "She got a kick out of that."
I asked him how he felt as he sat in the Kodak Theater while Carey Mulligan and Zoe Saldana were announcing the nominees in his category. He says it was "kind of a blur," but wasn't particularly disappointed not to be called to the stage to pick up a gold statuette.
"Even though 'Kavi' did not get the Oscar, I was actually completely fine with that because this is my first film, after all," he said.
"The nice thing is, there have been so many opportunities to get to know the other nominees. And the guys who won for 'The New Tenants,' they're really cool guys, so I was excited for them. It’s like we’re all in it together," he said.
(Eagle-eyed viewers may have noticed the blue ribbons that "Tenants" winners Joachim Back and Tivi Magnusson were wearing on their lapels; yes, those were the ones Helvey had distributed to several fellow nominees as part of his campaign to raise awareness about modern-day slavery.)
The rest of Helvey's evening was spent at the Governor's Ball and, later, having some drinks at the bar of the Renaissance Hotel next to the Kodak Theater. When it was all over, he says he got the best night's sleep he's had since "Kavi" was announced as one of the films on the short list of Oscar nominees.
But it's hardly all rest for the filmmaker. He's in the process of turning "Kavi" into a feature-length film, has signed with a management company and is exploring other potential screenplay opportunities.
In other words, Oscar night may only be the beginning of Helvey's filmmaking career.
| March 12, 2010; 1:16 PM ET
Categories: Awards Season
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