I've been in DVD dubbing hell for the past 48 hours.
The kind and generous Mark V. who will soon be the owner of a nice selection of fine lagers has been shepherding me through the hell and highwater, rowing our flaming canoe through streams of interlacing and de-interlacing lava, only to arrive at the hot rocks of rendering, followed by the purgatory of cutting and pasting entry forms on to plastic DVD cases like it's arts and crafts time up in here. As my colleague and fellow entrant Garvin Thomas so aptly put it.
How nice if we could just upload our entries. Judges could click on the links and watch on their computers, whenever the mood struck. Imagine, Emmy judging in your bathroom, using your iPad! Hugely convenient and only very gross a little distracting.
But alas, if this is what it takes to usher in one of the pointy, shiny, winged statuettes into my possession, then burn, baby, burn. As in DVD burn. About as fun as watching a Final Cut Pro project convert into a .mov file. As in not fun at all.
Almost as not fun as doing all this work and then not getting nominated. Or, as has been my case, getting nominated, getting dressed up, getting in the car and driving to San Fran, getting your car valet parked by God knows who who does God knows what with your Prius, and getting to say, "Well, it certainly was an honor to be nominated."
Emmy awards, as you may already suspect, are subjectively doled out, and luck and circumstance play a giant role in the whole judging process. Are you first in the pack to be watched? Are you last? Is your judge a novice or a veteran of the business? Are they in a good mood or are they dead tired after a long week of working and now they're in a room eating cold pizza and marking down your scores with other similarly tired people who thought it would be a good idea to judge Emmy entries but now realize there are still 27 DVDs to watch and it's already beer-thirty on a Friday.
I have judged Emmys a couple times. Once 11 years ago when I was an intern for KTVU. And once a few years ago when I first arrived at NBC and our station Emmy coordinator sent me home with a box of DVDs from a mid size news market, maybe Santa Fe or perhaps somewhere in Texas. You're supposed to judge the entries against the Emmy standard, not against the other entries in the category. Technically, you could have 5 winners in one category, if they are all excellent and they all satisfy the Emmy criteria in content, creativity, and execution. But human nature being what it is, judges end up judging the entries against each other and typically you only have one, sometimes two winners.
It's anything but scientific or exact. The year I judged the entries for the mid market, I was at home watching the DVDs with The Good Doctor, who wandered in and out sprinkling in his 2 cents in between bites of bagel dog. Some stories were clearly excellent and made you think, "Wow, how did you hike up that mountain with a photographer and a pug?" Or, "That's a sweet story about the Down syndrome couple that got married in their small town." Others were more ordinary, good but not knock your socks off terrific. But I gave pretty generous scores because I don't know, I suppose I'm a generous person, and I try to stick to the idea that the Emmys are not about who is the best in that pool of entries, but does each entry meet the Emmy standard.
When I judged for the first time, I was an intern and I showed up because the flyers promised "free pizza for Emmy judging." Interns never pass up free food. I was supremely underqualified to judge. 21 years old with no experience shooting, writing, editing, or working in the field of journalism. I was however, an excellent pizza eater, and a warm body who could count to 10 and write down a number on a score card. My uneducated, unqualified self helped decide who got an Emmy and who got totally wasted and cried into their beer that night. Which is quite often one in the same. You'd be surprised which of your favorite anchors, reporters and meteorologists could hold it down with Charlie Sheen.
In any case, it's done. Now begins the long wait until nominations are announced in May. Then the next wait until the awards night in June. It's such an emotional roller coaster. You totally want to win, but you also know it's partly a total crap shoot because the person judging you might hate youngish Asian reporters or they might be a pizza munching intern who thinks you're hot. I just would really, really like to win ONE Emmy other than the adorable one I pushed out of my lady flower. I don't need to be Wayne Freedman, who has 45 Emmys. At least. And who, as I learned from Wikipedia, is also known as "Wizzle-Head."
As Garvin, who is the proud recipient of at least four Emmys, put it: "You need good stuff to win, but good stuff doesn't always win."
And sadly, even when you're in it to Nguyen it, you don't. Wish me luck.