Taking down the wall.


Now roll them cases out and lift them amps
Haul them trusses down and get’em up them ramps…

But when that last guitar’s been packed away
You know that I still want to play
So just make sure you got it all set to go
Before you come for my piano

I haven’t posted for 2 weeks because I haven’t done anything for 2 weeks except wrangle a huge, complicated new-business pitch into shape. The presentation was yesterday, it was kick-ass and now we wait.

And now I take down the wall.

The wall is covered in cork tile, and I’ve had one everywhere I’ve worked since I became responsible for other people’s work.

The wall is the only way I know where I am on a project. It starts with a brief, pinned up on the extreme upper left, and then blankness. Slowly, thoughts, questions, to-dos, swipe, scrawled end-lines fill the wall. These, in turn, are replaced by layouts, scripts and key frames, and then comps, storyboards and ominous patches of bare brown cork representing stuff that still needs doing.

Eventually the wall gets filled, and its next role comes into play. The pieces get rearranged, clumped into buckets, put into order…and some get tossed. At this point, the wall is not a chalkboard, it’s a scoreboard. And since my office door is open 99% of the time, everyone comes by to check the score.

It’s all very low-tech and also, especially at the end, very 30,000 feet, which makes it easy to forget how every piece of paper that went up on that wall was turned into something actual and beautiful by incredibly dedicated, hardworking people working crazy stupid hours.

From the elegant “place mats” that greeted clients as they took their seats to the rocking goodie-bags they got on the way out; from the perfectly edited video clips to the carefully recreated retail shelf environment they assembled in the presentation room; from the hours of taping and transcribing interviews to the wee hours of proofreading and revising, here’s to Meredith, Matt D, Kim M, Jess, Anthony, Katie and Liz.

And now the wall comes down…easy as pulling out a tack. Five minutes, and the wall is bare again. This afternoon, the first casting selects from an upcoming shoot go up.

But the band’s on the bus
And they’re waiting to go
We’ve got to drive all night and do a show in Chicago
or Detroit, I don’t know
We do so many shows in a row
And these towns all look the same
We just pass the time in our hotel rooms
And wander ’round backstage
Till those lights come up and we hear that crowd
And we remember why we came

–Jackson Browne, from “The Load-out”

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One thought on “Taking down the wall.

  1. Ad Chick says:

    I adore that song from Jackson Brown…fitting to use it here…good luck!

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