I took a break and went for a walk. I wanted to just give up. Suddenly, it all seemed overwhelming and pointless. I started to think about how good it would feel to just abandon the work and do something incredibly freeing, to just leave it all behind. This has not happened often, but with animation finished and now full time on our lighting stage, a new leg in the journey had begun. Suddenly, it just seemed like this would never end.
As I rounded a familiar corner, I looked up to see a white plastic supermarket bag hanging from a tree above my head. I swear it was laughing at me. It looked like a white flag, the universal symbol of surrender, as it swayed calmly in the breeze. For a brief moment, I saw my future in it. I did not like what I saw, and something had to change.
I knew in that moment, that plastic bag must come down. There was no way I could return to my work with a white flag of surrender just outside my door. This bag was a symbol of a future I did not want, and I wasn't going to let it happen.
But it wasn't a simple matter of walking up to this flag of surrender and snatching it down. The bag was a good ten feet above me, out of reach, and guarded by an especially viscious and deep patch of briars. If I wanted to tear down this bag, it looked like I was goiing to need to get dirty, and possibly bloody.
I made my way in, anyway. If it had been a moat of fire from the pits of hell, I probably would have gone, just to defy the universe. I had done enough damage even thinking about giving up, and here was the universe egging me on. And definitely, as I made my way in, I thought to myself, this is ludicrous, there is no need to do this. It was "I get it, I get it, you dont want to give up." But this was a symbolic journey. That bag had to come down.
I managed to get the plastic bag down, but not without getting scratched, not without a struggle, and not without needing to find the clever solution of using another limb to help tear it down. It was a bit of a chore and to any passerbys on the road, I must have looked totally insane wading into a thicket of briars to tear down a plastic bag, falling all over the place and yelling at it until I succeeded.
But that predicament was fitting. It felt like the perfect metaphor for this journey. There's been too many times I didnt have the solutions I needed to get us to the next stage, and there was always a thicket of obstacles I needed to get over. Those briars have been there at every turn, and there has always been that second voice: "yea yea, I get it, you dont want to give up. But just leave it there and go do something easy."
Briars are a fact of life, and they aren't going to appear when everything is going okay. No flag of surrender is going to set itself in front of you when you are having a great day with a cocktail on the beach- they are going to show up when they know you are weak.
You have to be stronger, smarter, and more importantly, you have to be willing to get bloody, muddy, and uncomfortable - or you have to surrender.
We have now moved full time into lighting. As I mentioned in my last update, I was looking forward to this one, because it would mean we are starting to see progress on the final look. And we are. We are now several shots in. There's still the daily wrestling, the daily struggles and anxieties of wondering if we did it another way, would it look better, wondering if we are doing it right, and fighting technical breakdowns - which leads to emotional breakdowns - and getting over the hurdles. This is a two pronged stage in the process - lighting it, and then putting it together in the composite. Lighting is now the priority, but once that is done, we are in the home stretch. These are the last two stages of image completion, other than our final edit.
We haven't thrown in the towel, and we're not going to. I am not sure if that is a good thing or not. Smarter people than myself would not have taken this on, or would have given up and done something else long ago. You only live once, as far as I know. Making this film has not been anything like a normal life, but neither has much else of my life, and as long as I am in service to my art, to my audience, and in pursuit of the aesthetic catharsis that comes with it, then I do believe it is worth it. And if I am dragging this film across the finish line from a ditch, with a cable and an extension cord hooked to my computer because the apocolypse happened the night before, then so be it! The glow of my skin from the nuclear fallout will at least allow me to work on through the nights.
The Journey Continues