Wednesday, January 13, 2010

10,000 Hours

In Malcolm Gladwell's book, Blink, he claims that success comes on back end of a lot of experience. Experience gained through a lot of hard work... usually at least 10,000 hours worth!

That's a lot! If you work 40 hours a week at your craft, it will take you 4.8 years to reach 10,000 hours!

But what if you do something just a few hours a day... say 10 hours a week? Then it will take you 19 years of practice!

On the one hand - the glass hand - this is scary... I don't feel like I will EVER be good enough, relaxed enough to do what I want to do.

But on the other hand - my production hand - I remember when I KNEW I was good at the logistical nightmare that film production can be. I was sitting in a trailer with my trusted assistant, Mike and my motorhome driver, Lea. We were in nowhere Long Beach, CA on a Sunday... the first day of shooting for a new beverage (Powerade). The shoot had been postponed for a freaking month because of rain.

To complicate matters, I had a British Director of Photography who insisted on using a dolly that was way more popular in Britain than here in the U.S. I had a long discussion with the vendor when I rented this piece of equipment. I explained I wasn't familiar with every part of this dolly and that it was VITAL for me to see a detailed list of all that I was renting and to be certain I had every possible part! I faxed this list over to our Key Grip to double check and we picked everything up that Friday.

And here we are on a sunny Sunday morning when the call comes over the radio that there is a part missing. As both Mike and Lea fly into action to start the phone calls to find someone on call who can open up the dolly shop on a Sunday, I stood up and said, "NOBODY MOVE! Don't call anyone! Don't do anything for 10 mintues!"

Mike and Lea thought I had lost my mind! Time is money in production. When camera is waiting...big bucks are burning!

As I sat there calmly reviewing my production notes, I could hear Mike and Lea whispering and "pre-dialing" on their cell phones. I could also feel them staring holes in the back of my very calm head! And still I sat there.

But what they didn't know is that in a split second of hearing about the dolly emergency and the two of them jumping into action, I had made a very cool and calculated decision. I had weighed several facts: 1) We were 40 miles from the dolly vendor. (minimum an hour and a half by car) 2) It was Sunday... finding a tech to come into the shop would take hours. 3) One Production Assistant was off in Hollywood and needed to get back ASAP, another was on an inconsequential run in Santa Monica (halfway between us and the vendor) and could be diverted saving us maybe 20 mintues. 4) Our Key Grip was one of the most inventive and ingenious guys I'd ever worked with... He could probably rig a part faster than any of the above could happen.

All of these thoughts crossed my brain in less than a second and allowed me to realized what no one on set or in my office knew yet... That in a matter of minutes, everyone would realize that, if they chose to sit around, nothing would get done on this highly delayed project for hours and no one wanted that.

Five minutes into the wait, they called over the radio, "You guys working on that part?"

"We sure are!" I lied. Mike and Lea were certain I need to be committed! He started to called and I shook my head NO. "Five more minutes."

Exactly four and a half minutes later, the call came... "Uh Holly??? Cancel that run to the valley. [Key Grip] has rigged up something that works. But if we could pick up the real part tomorrow when they're open, that'd be great."

"You got it!" I turned Mike.... The look of astonishment on his face was priceless!

"How did you know they were going to cancel?"

"Experience baby, Experience!"

I am very certain that by that point in my career, I had about 10,000 hours of production under my belt.

As for glass... I've never kept track. I've been torching off and on for nine years. But I think I am going to keep track from here on in. I know there is no tutorial I can read that will make up for putting my butt behind a torch and doing the work. It's work I love and it's work I want to getter better and better at.

1 comment:

JanelDudleyBeads said...

Great story Holly! Love how you remained calm in a stressful situation! I wish I could be more like that!