“Man plans, and God laughs.”
I feel that needs to be in huge neon letters emblazoned on a wall any time you try to run a production.
It’s been two weeks since the cast has been set and we did our first table read. Things are moving along and plans have been set in motion. Somewhere along the way, you realize that coordinating a dozen plus people to be in the same place at the same time is an insane proposition. Of course, this is the necessary working condition to get anything done in a production, so it falls upon the powers that be to make it happen.
This project is obviously a top, if not THE top priority for me. But I realize that it isn’t the case for everyone. Like I’ve stated before, every person working on this project still has to support themselves, and the project is a moonshot. Passion is great, but you can’t eat passion. Survival isn’t a thing that can just be taken for granted. I’m booking jobs so I can essentially work for free on the project, and I know pretty much everyone is trying to build a buffer so we can do the work that we need. We have our meetings squeezed in our off hours and squeeze every bit effort that we can get from our time awake.
Production is a full time job and as such, everyone on the project is essentially working two jobs. It’s a lot to ask of anyone, but to those of us crazy enough, and believe in the project enough, we’re doing it. Part of switching over into this industry is learning how to do the job. Most people have a general idea about how film and television is made, I know I did going into this. Broad strokes, sure, people may guess right, but by and large, most people have no idea how it’s done. I don’t think anyone at large understands the literal hundreds of people that it takes to put together even just thirty minutes of television. Not only is it hundreds of people, but each person is dependent on someone else’s. Hundreds of parts have to move in concert in order to make everything work. Since switching to this industry, I’ve realized that actors are simultaneously the least and most important part of the process. Before a single “Action” is uttered, there have been hours of set up and work put into setting up the shot and getting the entire set ready, not to mention the writing and producing to put all of it together. The actor is literally not needed for any of this, but once all of this is set up, it’s time. All of a sudden the onus shifts to the performance and if the actor doesn’t deliver, everything grinds to a halt.
And that’s when you realize the complexity of this whole thing. At the core of it, production comes down to one thing, turning an idea into reality. That’s all it is. It’s an amazing endeavor what I’ve realized is that derive immense satisfaction from making something. It’s a rare thing nowadays, especially in an office job, to be able to see and grasp what you have accomplished in a day’s work. In this industry, not only can you see the fruits of your labor (which can be painfully small some days), but you can also see the end result on a screen, and also be able to share your work with others.
So, Day 16 became the day, time to start putting our concepts, our ideas, our dreams to the test and make them a reality.
Of course on Day 15, things went immediately wrong. Scheduling both staff and cast was a logistical nightmare, coupled with stress and pressure, made for a bit of a mad scramble. Something that Wayne always lets us do, almost scarily so, is to make mistakes. His philosophy is that error is the truest teacher, and that as long as he can foresee that the failure isn’t big enough to derail everything, he lets the wreck happen so we can learn from it. Old school, I respect it. Luckily enough, we managed to coordinate everything and iron out the details to schedule the day with all of the talent being able to intersect at a time and place. Then it was coordinating the wardrobe to fit the concept, and then we had our marching orders.
I’ll be honest, I was stressed and my mind was going a million miles a minute for Day 16. Our call time was late in the afternoon, but during the day I was still making calls and coordinating as much as I could. I got there a half hour early to help set up and just generally get a lay of the land. Slowly, as the appointed time approached, everyone trickled in and started getting into wardrobe. I’m not sure if there was a nervous energy in the room, but I can say that I was nervous. We had the table read together, but this was the first time that we were going to try to pull our concept from the ether and make it into reality. One-by-one we were made up, in character, and then placed in front of the camera. Last looks, then, away we went.
As soon as we had a second, everyone slyly worked their way to the monitor, except for me. I was not sly, I was not cool, I popped up nearly knocking Kendall over, and walked/ran over to see it. And then we saw it.
Concept made reality.
I of course punctuated the moment with profanity, as I usually do. But I think all of us in that moment felt something come over us. This was real, this thing that we had been working on had been made tangible. I tried to keep my cool, but I think you could see it written plain on my face, we’re making something here. There was a moment of incredulity, of pride, and it felt galvanizing. The rest of the day flew by and by the end of it, everyone was exhausted, but happy in the work that we had done. Mind you, if you take the holistic view of it, nothing of huge importance was done. But we as a team had taken a first step in translation a concept to a vision, and even making a part of that vision a reality.