Any show, any gig or contract seems to have a recognizable life cycle. I'm trying to keep an eye on this and use it to help manage the highs and lows of the energy levels.
1. The Spark or Catalyst. This is pretty varied but usually starts with someone, somewhere saying, "I have this idea." or, "What if we?" Then a bunch of people jump on board withe craziest, most far out brain storming session that can be generated. "Yeah, we'll green screen it and replicate the zombies so there's actually an entire HORDE!" Any one at this point who has the audacity to point out that we only have two zombie puppets ready and no budget for more gets lynched or booed. This is when this is going to be the biggest, bestest most marvelous thing EVAR, of all time that anyone has ever worked on and someone points out that even the Lord of the Rings trilogy was some one's crazy idea at some point and they had hordes. Yep... this is the crazy.
2. Some people get pulled in at this point, the phone rings and someone you may or not know (or trust!?) says they have this idea going and could you... Number two either jumps you straight back to number one and the crazy brainstorming continues or you respond with a hesitant OK.... and....
3. The Buts Begin. A common quote right about now is, that's great but... insert budget limitations, time limitations, tech issues, availability. Frequently reference the time we did a set on $50 or declared the new set colour the colour "free". Lots of navel gazing is going on, one time I.... but.... then.... This is where we start being the person dialing the phone at Number 2.
4. People start to pull their shit together. Real budgets are put together, designs that might actually happen are created. People flake out, run screaming or commit. (Or the entire thing falls apart, do not pass go, do not collect $200, go back to Number One, The Spark.)
5. Production begins. Now at this point there is still a kind of high. Everyone is happy to start something new, the time line seems realistic (HA!)
6. Somewhere in here every tech starts to run out of money, time, energy, vision, patience or just general will power. Panic, depression and sheer desperation all seem like a healthy response.
Now, it's important to note that not everyone on a project (the same project) are at the same point at the same time. Not to mention who has the luxury of one project at a time? So the lighting tech gets drug in at Number two (Can you help?) while the set designer is pulling their hair out at Number Six (Hair pulling panic) and the wardrobe designer is happily wallowing in the high of Number Five (Starting Production). Hopefully you are surrounded by a team of seasoned professionals that know when to ply the other members of their team with caffeine or alcohol (whenever each is appropriate, together is a personal fav) and try and pull everyone back to .... Number Four, Pulling Your Shit Together.
7. Things start to fall in place. Fatigue is a major factor here, who seriously has time for abject terror or stress at this point. "Good Enough" becomes the refrain of most of the team. Usually at this point finding a sober coherent director or producer becomes impossible and everyone starts to just make their own bloody decisions.
8. Curtain, shoot or production happens. Really, except for the 16 year old ingenue who thinks she looks fat in purple, NO ONE CARES.
9. Rehashing the Production. This usually starts in the tech booth or the green room while the show is still happening, proceeds to an after party (if you are all still speaking to each other) and continues for ... ever? Really, the length or time you can rehash a show for is directly related to the disasters available to rehash. The show the power went out on, when the 15' foot flat fell on the 85 year old who fell and tore the lead's bodice off... that's one we're going to be talking about on our death bed.
10. You think you are finally over it, you can sleep through the night, the work room isn't curtained off with black crepe and there is a faint niggling in the back of your brain. Next thing you know you run into someone who like working with and the next thing out of your mouth is, "I have this idea..."
ARGH!!! Where are you all at with the current projects?