This is a strange moment. I've not had a moment like this in some time, several years, at least. The sensation is so strange I'm half wondering if I'm imagining it, half wondering if I've missed something truly substantial and that the hard back-of-head smack of my own forgetfullness is about to assault me like a mis-played tether ball. It's odd, just plain odd.
The office is quiet.
I mean the office is really quiet. The body of tasks that I'm supposed to pursue is done for the day, still an hour before my vendors on the west coast close. The shooting company is in the field, only half way through their deep-split workday, but I've gotten no panicked calls. Accounting finished early and headed home thirty minutes ago. The flights are booked and no one has called to change. Supplies and equipment, all ordered, paid for, and distributed. I haven't gotten an irate call from an agent or manager since lunchtime. All the little fires that normally vex my day seem cold and smokeless.
Old-timers, meaning anyone who's tenure in the industry precedes mine by more than fifteen years, tell me that this is how it used to be, how it's supposed to be. My disbelieving ears keep hearing that, once-upon-the-good-ol'-days, a Production Office was a languid place, occupied by just a few souls who existed only to copy Call Sheets, make Sides and proofread Production Reports. The rest of the time was spent practically idle, cracking jokes and waiting for the benchmark calls from set.
The Production Office Life [TM], as I've known it, is a potent cocktail of money headaches, departmental neediness, bureaucratic frustration, above-the-line yelling, quiet weeping, studio bow-scraping, pounding stress, and a potent dose of an exotic herb called 'fucking-hurry,' all milled together under high pressure for fourteen hours daily, served with a side of exhaustion and garnished with the constant reminder that we're the most anemically compensated of all union departments.
Over the last twenty years, as movie-making has gotten more complex, as productions have gotten larger in scope, as studios have closed the dual fists of oversight and due diligence, and as the analog/chemical modes of working have been subsumed by the chaos of digital/virtual production, more and more work has fallen to the Production Office. While we were once, as it's told to me, simply an in-house printing shop and and record keeping service, now we are the logistical cerebellum of the film making organism, with all the associated expectations, responsibilities, pitfalls, and most of all, hours.
Not today, though. Today the world is quiet and everything is squared away. The shooting day is underway and all the paperwork is done. The muckity-mucks are out of the building and nothing is on fire. Today we get to breathe a little. It makes me nervous.
I'm going to go prep the Sides.
Smoke 'em if you got 'em.