Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Importance Of Saying Goodbye.

Shows can be a magical place to work. You cram some awesome people together in a centralized location for twelve to fourteen hours a day and some fun will be had, no matter the situation. Some of my best memories are from working on low budget shows and/or remote locations and/or shooting through the night.

It's often not the work that makes this job worthwhile, but the people involved with it.

On the last day of the show I was on recently, I found out that it was also the sound mixer's last day ever in this business. He was officially retiring when they called "wrap." As he was packing up his gear for the last time, I asked him, after working in this business for most of his life, what was he  going to miss the most? He paused what he was doing and looked at me thoughtfully.

"You know, I don't think I'll miss the hours we do, or the shows, or even the work itself. It's the people that I'll miss most of all." And with that, he gave me a kiss on the head, gave me some final words of wisdom, and quietly walked out that stage door for the last time.

While we weren't particularly close, he was a part of my life for several months. And his departure was even more meaningful to me because we got to say goodbye.

All too often, I make these connections with these fun and awesome people,* and at the end of the day/show/and even scene, we gather our things and disappear into the night with hardly a look back. When they call wrap, everyone's in such a hurry to clear out of there that before you know it, you're in your car, alone, and you never got to exchange one last joke with the prop guy or high five the on set dresser one last time. Those little things that seem like nothing, but are really what aknowledges that a bond was formed and that it meant something to the both of us.

It sucks not being able to say a proper goodby. I makes me feel like I'm lacking a sense of closure. That we've been through such long days and grueling work without as much as a handshake and a "see ya around" makes me sad.

Sure, the flowing nature of this business means there's a good chance I could see them again down the road, but it could be years, or even decades down the line, if at all. And who's to say we'll even remember each other by then?


I guess what I'm trying to say is that at the end of the day/show/career, what we take away from it all isn't the show itself, but the people we spent the time with. The people we got to know. Shared jokes with. Broke bread with. Rode in pass vans with. A sense of camraderie is shared and when it's over, the relationships we form don't always get the proper ending they deserve. It just fades away as if it meant nothing at all...

Endings like that have never sat well with me. And the day it does is the day I shouldn't be doing this anymore. Because when all is said and done, it's not the shows we make, the hours we work or even the work we do that we take away with us.

It's the people that make this business worthwhile.

* And I'm talking about the good people here. Not the inevitable asshole(s) on every set.

1 comment :

Michael Taylor said...

Absolutely. Once the initial thrills of getting your career underway have faded -- and they always do -- what's left is the people you work with. In retrospect, those hard times on set when everybody had to depend on each other (and the laughs you all shared getting the job done in spite of the difficulties) are what you remember, not the easy jobs where nothing much happened. Those tough jobs bond people in the moment of struggle -- and such moments are precious indeed.

Too much is often left unsaid in this transient life of ours, which is why I always try to say a proper goodbye when wrap is called and the show is over. You really might not see some of those people again --there are several I used to work with who retired or died before we had another chance to share a laugh on set -- while others will keep popping up on jobs every few years.

You can't take any of it for granted, which is why it really is important to say goodbye...

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