The voice on the other end was ecstatic when Tucsonan Jane Reckart answered her phone Thursday morning. Her 26-year-old son, Tim Reckart, was calling from Brooklyn to tell her he'd been nominated for an Oscar.
"He was super-excited," Jane said. "There was a lot of noise in the background."
Tim Reckart said he's happy that what he considered an unlikely dream has come true.
"I will admit it's been a vague fantasy for years," he said. "I never very seriously thought about it happening. Even being on the short list (of Oscar contenders), I guess it felt out of reach because the competition was just so impressive. It was a big surprise."
Along with producer Fodhla Cronin O'Reilly, writer-director Reckart was nominated for a best animated short film Oscar for "Head Over Heels," a stop-motion tale of a couple who have grown apart and seek to rekindle their marriage.
Reckart, a 2005 University High School graduate who went on to earn degrees from Harvard University in 2009 and the National Film and Television School in the United Kingdom in March, lives in Brooklyn with his 24-year-old brother, Dan.
The Oscar nod for "Head Over Heels," which Reckart made while studying at the National Film and Television School, is the latest in a slew of top honors it's picked up in festivals including the Brazilian Anima Mundi festival, the Hiroshima International Film Festival, the Austin Film Festival and the Dinard Festival of British Film.
"Head Over Heels" was also an official selection at 2012's Cannes Film Festival.
He'll find out if he'll win an Oscar at the Feb. 24 Academy Awards ceremony in Hollywood.
Among all the calls Reckart took Thursday was one from one of his biggest fans.
"This morning, my mom - Tim's grandmother - called and was really excited," Jane said. "She asked for Tim's number and she started crying. She said, 'Maybe I'll just email him rather than crying on the phone,' but I think she did end up talking to him. He's been hearing from everybody."
Reckart said he was surprised to hear that his grandma became emotional when hearing of the nomination.
"She was able to keep it together" during the phone conversation, he said.
Along with the rest of the Reckart family, which includes Tim's father, also named Tim, and five other Reckart children, Jane was enlisted to act in the younger Tim's early work.
"He knew he wanted to do film," Jane said. "He was always interested in it."
University High School Assistant Principal Amy Cislak said the school is buzzing about the nomination.
"All day the news was spreading by email, Facebook and Twitter," she said. "Teachers were sharing the trailer with students."
John Hosmer, who taught Reckert in an Advanced Placement U.S. history class at UHS in 2004, said he could always tell Tim was brilliant.
"He's just a superior young man," Hosmer said, recalling Reckert as polite, generous and outgoing. "We're thrilled to see how well he's done at a young age, but it doesn't surprise anyone that he would be successful like this."
Family friend Kerry Swindle, whose son, Tim Swindle, grew up with Reckart, said he recruited her family for his early film projects.
"He loved blood-and-guts movies," she said. "He went through all the ketchup in their house."
For Jane, that turned out to be ketchup well spent.
"I'm really happy for him," Jane said. "It's a huge accomplishment to have his work recognized like that, and the work of all his crew. He had a really talented crew working with him. It's a great validation of him so early in his career that he's doing great work."
Reckart hopes he'll win the Oscar, but is content with the success he's had so far.
"I'm very happy with where we are," he said. "I would also love to win the Oscar, too. Why stop here? At the same time, I have no expectation of winning."
On StarNet: To watch a video trailer for Tim Reckart's nominated animated film, go to azstarnet.com/multimedia. See photos of some of the nominees at azstarnet.com/gallery
DID YOU KNOW?
University of Arizona graduate Ari Sandel won the best short live-action film Oscar for "West Bank Story" in February 2007.
Contact reporter Phil Villarreal at 573-4130 or firstname.lastname@example.org