That Time We Stopped Traffic on the Bay Bridge
Updated: Aug 14, 2021
Among the many things this crazy unexpected year brought me was time. I resisted at first but as I watched the arts, culture and entertainment business wither on the vine (and my business with it) I began reflecting on my career. It’s been robust if I don’t say so myself. One story in particular comes to mind. It was the Summer of ’96. I was living in Atlanta but flew in to San Francisco to meet up with an LA based production company to film a Japanese TV commercial. Get all that? The perfect summation of my life at that time. The details are murky on the exact client but it was definitely a car commercial. For those of you who are not familiar with the film business, one thing is clear. Get. The. Shot. At times it’s thrilling, at times it’s obnoxious. Safe to say this time was a little bit of both.
After days and days of shooting I found myself on an early Sunday morning standing atop Yerba Buena Island, looking west into the city and looking down on to the Bay Bridge. The commercial called for a blank shot of the bridge so the editors could “fix it in post”. (Inside joke for the lifers.) So to get the shot, the production company arranged to have traffic stopped on the East Bay approach to the bridge. You read that right. They stopped the freakin traffic. Film business. The 90s. So there we stood watching an empty Bay Bridge with the glory of San Francisco behind it, taking in the wonder and the beauty and the power it took to make that happen. I often wondered how bad the traffic jam was behind us, as people inexplicably had to wait to get on the bridge. I know I would not have been happy about it!
And this memory has led me to think about this year. The thinking. The waiting. The stopping. The reflecting. I read an article earlier in the year that said something about how scientists actually detected less vibration in the earth because we had all virtually come to a stand still. Just like the Bay Bridge that morning. I was a Production Assistant on that shoot. As I moved forward in my career I came to realize what it took to pull that maneuver off. The logistics, the paperwork, the crew. I have since taken the lead on projects that sometimes feel like a climb higher than Mt. Everest never mind Yerba Buena Island. The key for me to achieve success in those moments is mental toughness, perseverance... and a great crew. Sound familiar 2020?