What led to the best sleep I've ever gotten?
Alright, so I've told this story in one form before, but it's worth telling again.
So the setting, Vancouver, BDA is about halfway through his first year at film school, young, nieve and still filled with dreams and passion. The large project for this term (2 months) is an (exactly) 13 shot horror film no longer than 3 minutes. Simple enough. You would think.
My teams plan? Fully greenscreen, digital environment, sci-fi. 5 guys. A month and a half. Yeah, it's exactly as fucking insane as it sounds. So we began planning before the term break, the group was initially kinda nebulous and uncoordinated, the guy who had originally had piped up and suggested the idea had pretty fallen into a state of near comatose disinterest (this would be a recurring theme). So as is my nature I stood up and tried to get some kind of direction going. I volunteered to write the script over the break, and the other guys would do some basic groundwork for thier areas. (Basically we had me, writing/directing/3D work, 2 compositors, another 3D guy and a sound guy). So flash-forward a week. I have the script done and we are reconvening to begin the actual project.
It goes...well enough. We get an actor for our main antagonist (Who is way more awesome than we could have used him for unfortunately), and a kickass makeup artist to make him up, but we were still lacking a protaganist. And us all being fresh, pretty much clueless and inexperienced, we began to panic as the days counted down and we still couldn't find anyone. Eventually our sound guy landed on a friend of his who could do the part. He wasn't amazing, and if I could do it all over I would have probably held out for someone else, but we took him, relieved to have SOMEONE. We scheduled the shoot date, and got things organized.
Now, while all this is going on, me and the other 3D guy are working our ASSES off getting the 3D elements built and ready to be animated and rendered when we get the footage to line it up. Also, while this was going the 2 comp guys were working on getting elements ready that we knew we would need mostly a lot of holographic displays and screens etc... well one of the comp guys was working on that, the other one (remember our friend? The comatose disinterested? The CD, Yeah...) said he was working on it, but we'll come back to that.
So shoot day arrives, I've been working my ass off getting things organized and ready, and the other guys have been chipping in where ever they can. But it's here and all we have left to do is shoot it. So, to put things in context for you, the room we are shooting in is about 30ft by 15 ft, with the greenscreen permanently installed at one of the thin ends. Needless to say not ideal for having large shots with lots of character movement. As well, our friend the CD, pipes up and says he wants to run cam-op, spouting off some long string of past experience and how he's an absolute pro etc etc (We would soon come to realize most of this was complete and utter BS), so alright, we let him do it.
We somehow work around the green screen issues, we make it work, our lead actor not exactly getting it, the make up taking about twice as long as I was expecting...etc etc, nothing horribly overwhelming for a typical set. So we get everything we need, call it a wrap and pack up. At this point, I was stressed, but not overwhelmed.
Then, the next day happened. I come to school, still somewhat riding the high of the shoot, and meet up with the guys to take a look at the footage. But then, I see thier faces, and I know something is desperately desperately wrong. I sit down, and they turn on the video. It's one of the most grainy, distorted pieces of crap I had ever seen, and have seen since. Our master cam-op had turned the gain on the camera up to the highest possible setting (if you are experienced with miniDV cams you know what this means, if you don't, imagine viewing a show through a badly tuned rabbit ear TV setup and you'll get an idea). My heart fucking falls through my stomach, all of the footage was essentially useless. Now. At this point in our story we are about 4 weeks into our 6ish weeks to work. A reshoot is absolutely out of the schedule, we had to get the 3D pumped out NOW if we wanted any chance of having it finished.
So, we said fuck it and dived in. Me and the other 3D guy dove in headfirst and starting cranking out renders as fast as we could. I gave the 2 compers the list of shit we needed and they dove in too... well kinda.
Alright, so here's the thing, our friend the CD, was...well... to put it bluntly a dick. He would proclaim these great and profound ideas, stating he knew how to do it no problem, it would be done in 5 minutes. And it would never show up again. This entire film was his idea, but at the first sign of actual work, I had to take the reigns and actually put it in gear. So basically spent 5 weeks asking him if he was working, asking to see something, and getting the royal runaround, under assurances that he was and it looked amazing. I'm just saying this so that you can get a full and complete understanding of all my sources of stress in this project.
So we start sending out final plates to the comp guys, and to the sound guy so he can start comping and mixing. And low and behold our friend the CD actually had done dick-all for the last 5 weeks. To say I was pissed off would be an understatement, but I couldn't unleash it at him because A) I was young (I was 18 at this point, and he was late 20-something, a big difference back then) B) Inexperienced at actually confronting anyone like that and C) Way to fucking busy for that shit. So I threw the plates at him and basically "get it done" in the most threatening manner I could attempt (Which probably included a voice crack... self confidence was never one of my strong suits), and got back to my work. Now, luckily I'll say this the other Comp guy was AMAZING, and is actually a really freaking intesely good graphic designer now, so he saved our ass on this one.
So we are now about 2 weeks away from our deadline and screening. Our compers tried their best to try to salvage the footage and make it at least semi-compable, which unfortunately included a lot of roto. A fact of which our friend the CD never let an hour go by without bitching about, and informing us how truly difficult it was, but that he would do it for the team. To which I promptly rolled my eyes, and made eye contact with the other comper (Who was doing equally as much roto) and shared in the mutual joke that was this guy. (Our friend the CD was also responsible for creating the door holographic panel, which he had spent 5 weeks assuring me would be awesome, but then never actually bothered to make)
Flashforward another week. One week to deadline, every single one of us is spending evenings, lunches, free periods, everything, working on this project. We were still a long way off, but I could at least start to see it coalescing and it was working...ish.
Now I need to just interject a small thing here. At this time I was living about an hour skytrain ride away from the school (aka, way the hell out there), the vancouver skytrain stops running at around 1 in the morning. So baically what that means is that, if I was at the school any later than midnightish, I was there ALL night.
It started sunday, and moved into monday, and moved into tuesday. I honestly can't remember much from this week, I know that I didn't...couldn't...sleep. I knew that I pretty much alternated nights working at the school, attending class the next day (Oh yeah, we still had full class load during all this btw), going home, being unable to sleep due to stress and body's inate ability to hate me (Actually, as would later reveal itself fully, I was dealing with a lot of mental issues during these years, depression namely, among similar things which was probably a key factor in why this week played out the way it did). So essentially, it boiled down to a solid week of pure work, me not sleeping for any of it (Maybe at best a not at all restful 10 minutes of head meet desk every 6 hours or so).
So finally we meet thursday night, well as much as 6 in the morning on Friday can be considered thursday night, and we are exporting our final film, due and shown at 9am. First render fails, 7am, second render has no sound, 8am, third renders good. burn to DVD, and literally RUN into class about 1 minute under the buzzer DVD in hand prayin to the gods of old and new that the DVD didn't fragment into shards or something. DVD meets teachers desk, a collapse into a chair at the back of the room, and from what thy told me they showed the movie and everyone was very impressed. I was in such a fog I don't remember any of it. The next thing I do remember is me sitting on the skytrain about halfway home, when I noticed a tree. I don't know why, it's one of those things when you are so incredibly over tired that you have almost zero cognitive ability or logical thinking, but I just saw it, and the sun hitting it, and somehow knew it was over. Not in the way that the stress was gone, that always sticks around for a long time, but some part of me knew it was over. 45 minutes later, I had completed the walk home and met my bed.
Now here's the thing, like I said before I was dealing with a lot mental stuff in my time in Van, still am tbh, one of those things has always been insomnia and just a generally inability to sleep. It's not so much the actual sleeping part that's the problem, it's the falling alseep part, the actual transition from awakeness to sleep that has alluded me.
I didn't have that problem that day. From what I recall I slept for nearly 24 hours straight, but again, almost that whole week exists in a fog. And that is the best nights sleep I ever had.
If you would like to take a look at this thing that nearly killed me... taaadaaaa!!!
PS. this doesn't actually have any bearing on that story, but a long while after the movie was done and finished, I rewatched Iron Man, and the holographic panel that our dear friend the CD had boasted and proclaimed about designing and being so amazing, was ripped directly and wholey from the doorway into Tony's home garage. So, yep, I have some very paticulars about that individual that were never dissuaded from me in the next year and half I had to be in the same class as him.
Last edited by BigDamnArtist (2013-08-14 01:13:27)