I arrived in the heart of downtown St. Louis at 6:30 a.m. It was eerily quiet on that Sunday morning as I was used to experiencing the city in all its bustling energy and chaos. As lead producer of a short film (Fugue), one of my roles is to arrive early to set to ensure details are taken care of before the crew and talent arrive. Shutting down metropolitan streets is not as difficult as one may seem . . . except when vehicles are still parked at the closed meters.
12 hours prior we taped copies of our permit on each meter, but apparently it was required to post them 24 hours earlier. Of course, that was not communicated when the document was picked up. None the less, it was firefighter time. I've always said that producing a film is like organizing an event. I've been planning events for twenty years in various capacities and parts of the world and it boils down to being extremely detail-oriented, providing clear communication . . . and putting out fires. I once nearly brought a grown man to tears because I wouldn't take his football memorabilia to my NFL keynote speaker to sign (if I do it for you, I have to do it for everyone!). I stalled the cutting of a wedding cake because the mother-of-the-bride was nowhere to be found. I settled an auction dispute between two grown adults arguing over an autographed item they both desperately desired. And the list goes on . . .
So, when I take on a new project, I expect and anticipate those unexpected delays and unknowns that throw a wrench in the already planned-out day.
I called the assistant producer who quickly got on the phone with the City and within minutes, I had four police officers, three police vehicles, two firetrucks and two tow trucks barreling down the once-quiet Olive Street toward me. A very kind policeman shared that it was not our fault that cars were still parked on the blocked streets and they were going to blare their sirens for awhile to wake up the tenants in the adjacent building in hopes they would wobble down the stairs to move their parked cars out front . . . thus fewer tickets to write and less cars to tow. It was quite a scene. Almost like a scene in a movie. Ha! Of course, I was trying to clear the streets so the camera crew and grip truck with equipment could arrive.
Thankfully, everyone was absolutely friendly and accommodating (especially the tow truck driver who asked if I was married . . . lol!) as they one-by-one took each of the nine cars parked in our reserved spaces away to other parking spots throughout the city. It was quite an adventurous morning to start the long day ahead.
Here's why I share this story other than to show you that movie making is not as glamorous as you may think. I've learned over the years that in frustrating situations, it's best to stay calm. I once had a friend get upset with me because I didn't match his sense of urgency in the same fashion. My mild demeanor upset his frantic movements and frowning face.
Life will always throw us curve balls. ALWAYS. So why fight them? Why stand in their way? Why not accept the situation, scream silently in frustration, and take steps to remediation?
There's nothing wrong with getting upset, but don't take it out on others. It will get you nowhere fast. Don't be part of the problem. Be the solution.