Alright, grab a cup of coffee (or tea, if that's your jam) and settle in. I've got a wild story for you. It's got drama, suspense, a desert festival, and a disappearing act. Intrigued? Let's dive in.
Picture this: A sunny day, birds chirping, and my phone rings. It's a creative director speaking for their client. This client is launching a brand new product line and has a VISION!! After hearing all about this vision and the absolute enormity of what needed to be created, I sent in the bid outlining a grand 5-day shoot, which, thanks to the ever-tightening purse strings of productions, got crammed into a whirlwind 2-day affair. The prep? Oh, just the usual chaos - scouting locations, insurance, hiring models, assembling the crew, planning catering with 1000 food allergies and sensitivities and so on.
But then, the universe decided to play a little game.
First, the shoot got postponed. Twice. Because of product delays from China, and then the American factories. And guess when they rescheduled? 3 days after my annual pilgrimage to Burning Man is supposed to end. Now, if you know anything about Burning Man, it's not just a festival. It's an experience. I lead the build a massive camp there, and it's a week of no connectivity, just pure, unadulterated desert vibes. So, with blatant disregard to reality, I handed the pre-production baton to my BRAND NEW assistant. "You got this," I said after a quick 1-day training, and prayed that nothing crazy happened in the 2 weeks leading up to the production. (That was a rookie move BTW)
You can absolutely guess what came next. Mid-Burning Man, amidst the sand and art, I get a frantic message. The production was starting to fall apart. Even though I knew it was basic everyday production stuff that happens all the time, my assistant and the creative director were having a hard time without my leadership and expertise. had to make a choice. So, I did what any dedicated producer would do. I packed up, bid adieu to the desert, and raced back to civilization to take care of my commitments.
Oh and I forgot, right before had I left for the desert, another curveball: One of our locations canceled on us. Panic mode activated. We scrambled and found a last-minute studio. But oh boy, the universe wasn't done with us yet. The studio? 6th floor. Elevator? Broken. By the time we discovered a hidden service elevator, we were already drenched in sweat. And inside? A teeny-tiny AC unit trying its best against a scorching 114°F heat. Imagine 30+ people, bustling around, fans whirring everywhere, and me, trying to keep my cool (pun intended).
Despite the chaos, we wrapped up the shoot on a high. I've always believed in keeping the vibes positive, no matter what. We handed over the raw footage to the creative director, and that was that. Or so I thought...
Months later, my phone rings. It's the client. They're livid. The creative director? Gone. Vanished. Poof! And with them, the final edits and raw footage. My heart sank. This wasn't just any project. The client had poured their heart, soul, and nearly half a million into this business venture.
For the next month, I turned detective. We managed to salvage some video content, but the photos? Gone with the wind. The creative director remained MIA, and the client had to start from scratch and hire another team to recreate all the marketing footage and photos.
But here's the silver lining: The business launched, the marketing is hot, and the market response is overwhelmingly positive!! The client and I? We're good now. Might even work together again. But this roller-coaster taught me something. In the world of production, it's not just about the glitz and glamor. It's about trust, clarity, and always, always having a backup plan.
So, next time you're thinking of a production, remember this tale. And always, always get everything in writing. Because in this wild world, you never know when you might need it.
Thanks for reading!
PS: A final pro-Tip for me that I got out of this: I always get a copy of the RAW footage at the end of each day now. That way I have a backup incase something crazy happens that is out of our control! PSS. Join our weekly Newsletter HERE