Sunday, June 16, 2013


So, I was standing on the street after the Australian-premiere screening of 'The Rocket' at the Sydney Film Festival, hoping for an invite to the after party.

Wait, I'll go back a step.

The Sydney Film Festival hosted the Australian Premiere screening of 'The Rocket' on Saturday night. It's a new Australian film, set in Laos, that won a Crystal Bear for best debut feature at the Berlin Film Festival, and the Grand Jury Prize at the Tribeca Film Festival.

It's a 'boy from Laos overcomes horrible circumstances by building a rocket' story, and it's really quite good.

The film ended to rapturous applause.

A question and answer session followed with the adorable kids from the film, the other cast, the Producer Sylvia Wilczynski, and the director Kim Mordaunt.

Then, we were all on the street.

The next event after a premiere screening is almost always the after party. A chance to have a drink with other filmmakers, hear stories and do some networking. A chance only if you have an invitation, of course.

I had received a last minute invite to one earlier in the week, after the opening night film of the Festival. So, I thought lightning could strike twice.

At this point, I was looking around for a familiar face. I knew a couple of people who had worked on the film and I VERY VAGUELY knew Kim and Sylvia, the Producer-Director team. Not nearly enough to have any real connection to the film though.

I bumped into some people I knew from the film world. Polite chat ensued.

Suddenly, the Executive Producer of the film walked past, on the way to the party, and tapped one of our group on the shoulder.

"You're coming to the party", he said.

With a shrug and a smile at us, they walked off together.

The rest of us looked at each other. Silence. Then polite good-byes.

So, there I was, standing on the street after the Australian-premiere screening of 'The Rocket' at the Sydney Film Festival, hoping for an invite to the after party.

And I suddenly realised what you already know as you are reading this.

I was acting on a stupid impulse.

I was behaving like a 'hanger-on'; someone who wants to be invited to the parties even though they have no real connection to the film or the filmmakers. 'Hangers-on' want to be 'picked' by those who are successful, to be around them, rather than use their time forging their own destiny.

The after-party is not supposed to be some sycophantic gathering of self-indulgence. It's supposed to be a celebration for the filmmakers after a successful screening of their film; somewhere the team can come together to acknowledge each other's hard work that lead to this moment.

Why on Earth would I want to get in the way of that?

I had been beguiled by the glamour. The thrill of feeling like you are 'in' the group.

The most ironic part of all this being that I revile 'hangers-on'. It's total hypocrisy on my part.

Mind you, I don't rebuke 'hangers-on' for indulging that impulse. If there is anything that high school teaches you, it is the positive/negative reinforcement that comes from being invited to/excluded from a selective group.

What I disagree with, is directing your energy and effort to 'being picked'.

The successful people most 'hangers-on' want to be around didn't wait to be anointed by someone else. They earned their success through achievement. They picked themselves.

For some reason, I had been distracted from this simple fact.

And with that simple realisation, the witchcraft of glamour was broken. I remembered who I am.

I said a quick congratulations to Kim on the film and the audience response.

Then, I walked away from the crowd outside the theatre.

I had a quick bite to eat nearby, and I went home.

When I arrived home, even though it was late, I worked on one of my own film projects. Because the next after party I go to, I want to be hosting not 'hanging-on'.

I will not wait to be picked ever again, and neither should you.

Choose yourself instead.

- - - - - - - - -