The exciting part is over. By most people's understanding, the movie has been made. The last frame has been shot; the t-shirts have been handed out; the generators are silent and the above-the-liners have all flown back to the west coast. The sweat and elation of shooting disappear, along with most of the crew, with the wrap party's hangover.
The work is not done, though.
And, a handful of us are left to unmake it all, to dismantle the apparatus and return this corner of the world to it's pre-production serenity. The remaining crew, once endeavoring agog over the burgeoning project, now labor, half exhausted, to render its remains.
It will take Accounting a month or more to pay all the bills and close all the accounts. Art, Props and Set-Dec will spend weeks cataloging and storing the warehouses worth of furniture, fixtures, and chotch. Construction and Rigging now go to work on the sets and the soundstage like so many piranhas on a carcass. Production, my department, will spend thousands of man-hours as we ship seventy to ninety tons of rented material back to its owners, as we sell off a million dollars in acquired assets, as we dot every 'i', cross every 't' and finalize thousands of pages of documentation.
Ultimately, when all the others have gone, we will shut down the facility, clean out the offices, shred the remaining paper, donate all that we couldn't sell and lock the doors behind us with barely more than our fingerprints to show that we were ever here.
We will leave the place sterilized, picked clean, five acres of polished concrete and institutional carpet that will wait, as we will, for whatever is next.
An old theatre director of mine, one particularly fond of ritual, had the entire company attend strike and stay until the last moments when she would give a short speech wishing us well on all the shows in our future. Then the stage manager would ceremonially sweep the floor and shut off the lights. The scope is different. These shows employ hundreds, not dozens and cost tens of millions, not thousands, but the ritual is the same. Now I am the one sweeping the floor and, in a few weeks time, I will wish my colleagues well as we turn off the lights before going to look for the next show.
Good Gate, Moving On.