Or: when it all goes right!
I realized the other day that most of my articles are focused on the things that can or do go wrong with a production. While I consider myself somewhat of a cynic I also like to think of myself as having an optimistic side. Otherwise why keep at it right?
It doesn’t seem like it happens all that often – the magic sweet spot of everything going exactly as it should – but when it does happen, for me at least, it is the closest thing I can think of to a religious experience.
One of my favorite movie quotes is from the film, Gladiator. Russel Crow is talking with his slave and asks him if he was happy. The slave turns and says something like, “Most of the time I do what I have to, sometimes I get to do what I want.” I have always liked that line. Not because I am trying to equate animation production to slave labour, although I am sure some folks would!
A production Manager’s job is partly to anticipate what can go wrong on a project. This inherently makes us seem like we are cynics. We are always trying to find ways to avoid disaster and when disaster doesn’t happen we ask the question, why not? This tends to be a constant cycle and can sometimes lead to seemingly unfeeling behavior. I remember the big ice storm in Ottawa. The studio I was at was one of the few places that still had power. Much of the crew would stay there as opposed to going home to their powerless and cold homes. I thought it was great because we were still able to meet our deadlines. Of course it wasn’t so great for the loved ones that had no power. It could be why PM’s have a reputation for being a bit heartless.
While this is something that is always in the front of my mind the goal is always to make the show the best it can be with the team and money that is there. When all the parts start to work like parts of a giant clock, that is extremely exciting to me. On projects that I have worked on it seems that this happens around the third to fifth episode. Sometimes sooner and sometimes later. Everyone starts to understand the connection they have, not only to each other but also from department to department.
When this happens, to me it feels like I am riding a surfboard on a huge wave. The chaos of the first few weeks/months of getting everything right is behind you and everyone is on track. The wave has picked everyone up and you are all feeling the elation of freefall as the grind disappears and all that is left is pure creation. The cynic in me says that there is bound to be something in the way that will make someone fall off and maybe the whole thing will crash into the shore leaving broken lives in its wake but right then there is no power in the ‘verse that can stop you. This alone makes all the other pain that will happen worth it for me.
When the hard work that is done pays off with a happy crew and a great show then nothing else seems to matter and the creative process can really have its time in the limelight.
At my core I could be considered an optimistic existentialist.
Most of the time I do what I have to, sometimes I get to do what I want. What I want is to be on that wave!
I am found here.