Past lives in Vermont lead to work on the Oscar-nominated film “Past Lives.”

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As a child, Ben Khan had big dreams. It was that I wanted to make a movie. He remembers making stop-motion movies with action figures in the sandbox at his home in Shelburne.

“Growing up, I always knew I wanted to work in film, even before I really understood what that meant,” he said.

When he was a student, Champlain Valley Union High School did not have an audiovisual club, but some teachers had the Class of 1994 submit a film as a project in lieu of a written work. Once a week, he attended South Burlington High School, where his father, Tim, taught French, and worked on films in the school’s award-winning technology and vision lab.

Thirty years have passed and Khan’s former life has largely caught up with him. He was the first assistant director on Past Lives, which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture on January 23rd. The film also won the Best Original Screenplay award from his debut director Celine Song. Khan described Past Lives as a film with “quiet emotional resonance and a lot of subtext.” Kahn says awards season recognition is a big boost for such a sensitive film.

“It’s an acknowledgment that this type of film can still resonate,” Khan said by phone the day before Oscar nominations were announced, after a string of accolades from other
film awards. told the Burlington Free Press. He said: The job of first assistant director is often described as the most difficult job on a film set. His job is to balance the creative desires of writers and directors with practical realities, from the equipment needed to the number of shooting days available to the crew. He likened his job to that of an orchestra conductor leading a group of craftsmen who work together to realize the creations of others.


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