Monthly Archives: February 2012

The VFXpert

Dan Lemmon is a visual effects guru, responsible for making the imaginary seem oh so real. Nominated for the Visual Effects Oscar this year for The Planet of the Apes, Dan was also pivotal in bringing Pandora to life in Avatar and has worked on A LOT of movies from King Kong to Lord of The Rings to yes, Titanic. When I first met Dan a few months ago, he was standing on his head – as part of my New Zealand welcoming committee!  Thanks to his role as my NYE host, I can vouch that in addition to making movie magic, he makes a damn fine bellini!

THE LESSON: I’ve learned that regardless of how busy I get professionally, I have to take care of my relationships with my friends and family. That may seem fairly obvious, but it’s been a hard lesson for me to learn as I’ve been sucked from one demanding project to another, year after year. This year, in particular, has been crazy – full of ups and downs that have included months of work overseas away from my family and being nominated for an Academy Award. The high point by far, though, was taking my kids surfing for the first time and watching their ecstatic faces as they stood up and rode their first waves.

THE QUESTION: Will I win an Oscar tonight?! Just being nominated has been a pretty amazing experience. Regardless of the result, I feel incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to work on a great movie with a great team and to see our work get recognized by our peers.

THE INSPIRATION: Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom. I think he writes incredibly rich, believable characters who are wonderfully and tragically flawed. I love his portrait of a family full of love and ambition and disfunction, and I loved the idea that we are what we make of our freedom.

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The Digitalista

The last time I actually saw Melissa Bell in person, was on a rooftop in Delhi in 2008, where we were both living at the time. But, thanks to the Lords of Social Media, I feel like I see her almost every day, as she anchors The Washington Post’s BlogPost. Hallelujah. A digital forensics wizard, last year she and her colleague Elizabeth Flock famously outed the gay girl in Damascus blogger as a 40-year-old American man from Georgia. She also does a good line in Star Wars nerdiness and snowboarding videos…

THE LESSON:That I am the adult in the room sometimes. That’s terrifying. And thrilling. 

THE QUESTION: How do we use all of this constant flow of information on the Internet to our advantage? How do we use it to better understand people, better entertain them, enlighten them, and inform them? I’ve become fascinated by crowdsourced projects: be it in getting aid to people like with Ushahidi; creating art like the Johnny Cash project; raising money for total strangers on social networks like Reddit, or – most close to home – watching news break on social media. So, how do we take of advantage of this amazing beast that is the Internet?

THE INSPIRATION: It goes back to my burning question. In general, the culture of the Internet and its focus on creativity has been the most inspiring thing I’ve seen. I really feel as if we’re in an age where creativity is rewarded and admired more than anything else. Offline, I am obsessed with Pieter Hugo’s photographs and films. All of Adam Ferguson‘s work (though I admit to a personal bias, as I adore him just as much as his work). All the war photography in general — making us look at the stories we want to ignore — as well as the work of war correspondents. I’ve been proud of strong female role models in journalism, women such as Lynsey Addario and Mona Eltahawy

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