By Ken Liu
“You’ve done well,” Creative Director Len Palladon said, looking over Sophia’s résumé.
Sophia squinted in the golden California sun that fell on her through the huge windows of the conference room. She wanted to pinch herself to be sure she wasn’t dreaming. She was here, really here, on the hallowed campus of Semaphore Pictures, in an interview with the legendary Palladon.
She licked her dry lips. “I’ve always wanted to make movies.” She choked back _for Semaphore_. She didn’t want to seem too desperate.
Palladon was in his thirties, dressed in a pair of comfortable shorts and a plain gray t-shirt whose front was covered with the drawing of a man swinging a large hammer over a railroad spike. A pioneer in computer-assisted movie making, he had been instrumental in writing the company’s earliest software and was the director of _The Mesozoic_, Semaphore’s first film.
He nodded and went on, “You won the Zoetrope screenwriting competition, earned excellent grades in both technology and liberal arts, and got great recommendations from your film studies professors. It couldn’t have been easy.”
To Sophia, he seemed a bit pale and tired, as though he had been spending all his time indoors, not out in the golden California sun. She imagined that Palladon and his animators must have been working overtime to meet a deadline: probably to finish the new film scheduled to be released this summer.
“I believe in working hard,” Sophia said. What she really wanted was to tell him that she knew what it meant to stay up all night in front of the editing workstation and wait for the rendering to complete, all for the chance to catch the first glimpse of a vision coming to life on the screen. She was ready.
Palladon took off his reading glasses, smiled at Sophia, and took out a tablet from behind him. He touched its screen and slid it across the table to Sophia. A video was playing on it.
“There was also this fan film, which you didn’t put on your résumé. You made it out of footage cut and spliced from our movies, and it went viral. Several million views in two weeks, right? You gave our lawyers quite a headache.”
Sophia’s heart sank. She had always suspected that this might become a problem. But when the invitation to interview at Semaphore came in her email, she had whooped and hollered, and dared to believe that somehow the executives at Semaphore had missed that little film.