Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Chaos Theory

I have a theory. It has something to do with chaos. I don't know what the real chaos theory is, but here's my version:

Orderly people need chaos in order to have something to organize, therefore proving their own worth.

Yep, that's my theory. It's my theory because it's how I am: pretty organized, a lover of structure and rules. Yet I work in an industry that, by its very nature, since its inception, has been chaotic. Films encourage chaos, encourage thinking outside of the box. This sort of flagrant rule breaking is not really built into me.

The thing about me, though, is that while I like stability and lists, I also hate being bored. I'm very easily bored by things. I can zone out in the middle of a movie if it doesn't hold my interest, while sitting in a movie theater, with the soundtrack bombarding me via surround sound. I very easily lose my focus in meetings that start drifting off topic. I can read an entire book and not retain anything but a few sentences that actually intrigued me.

So in order to keep both sides of my brain happy, I work in the messy, nutty business of making movies, but in the department that remains the most organized. That is to say, production.

I've been immersed in my work for so long that I have a hard time explaining what it is that I do. When I say "visual effects," some people blanch, some people grin, and some people look at me blankly. Then, if they persist, I say, "I'm not an artist. I'm one of those people that yells at artists and tells them to click the mouse faster." Generally, people accept that and do not ask for more information (unless they are also in the business, in which case, they ask all kinds of particulars).

So here's the thing: I went to school to be an artist. Specifically, an animator. Then I got my first job as an animator, and discovered quickly that I didn't like it. I hated sitting there and doing the same thing for hours and hours, with nothing to keep my brain occupied.

That's when the executive producer told me that I should be in production. Production consists of producers (executive producers, associate producers, visual effects producers, digital producers), production managers, coordinators, and production assistants. "Production" is sort of a catch-all group- "Are we getting Fourth of July off? What does production say?"- and deal with the schedule, budgeting, and crewing for any given project. We're the bean counters of films, essentially.

It's pretty much the perfect career for me- I am still involved in the artistic side, since I work with several supervisors and their teams of artists. But I also have to keep my mind on when things are due, what changes need to be made, what the schedule is, and how many days we've spent on tasks versus how many days we have the money for. It's a sort of schizophrenic job, but one I enjoy. And frankly, it's a job that I'm good at.

In Albuquerque, I've discovered a different flavor to this job. If working in LA was rocky road, full of nuts and marshmallows, working here is like smooth, buttery dark chocolate. Only an occasional nut, a passing hint of marshmallow, nothing much to mar the loveliness of chocolate. I'm quite liking it.

I didn't know that this was even an option for me, which I guess is why people always say to "try anything once." I'm adverse to change, but this year seems to be the year of changes for me.

Even chaos runs on Albuquerque time in this city.

Of course, it's only my third month on this movie. I'm sure the chaos will pick up shortly ... but I'm enjoying the peace for now.


william June 23, 2010 at 1:06 AM  

now i kinda know what you do. i thought you were heavily involved with visual effects. like, sitting there clicking your mouse, drawing stuff. making stuff shinier. adding roses to family dinners.

now i know you're the slave driver. very interesting.

jeanny June 23, 2010 at 8:40 AM  

Doesn't me as a slave driver make much more sense than me as an artist?

I think so.