Monday, December 07, 2009

jeffrey and the long, crazy, cold, tiring, hard-working, hard-rocking, ploxiest and awesome day

editor's note: those of you familiar with our writer's long-winded style will not be surprised at the length of this post. years of writing for "sheep go to heaven" have not been entirely sufficient to teach him brevity. our staff regrets this and apologizes. if you are one who has far more better ways to spend your time, i would like to offer you the highlights of the following epic prose:
worked in fake snow, it was cold.
left after sun went down and concert started.
missed show, found friends.
took pictures with band, awesomeness all around.
hello good day.

jeff gustafson
sheep go to heaven

i used up all of my karmic fortune not getting any calls for work on the day of the they might be giants concert. thus, the sinister planets aligned and left me crestfallen the day when i was offered work on a honda commercial for friday, december 4th (see two posts previous if you the backstory).
i was crushed. we would be shooting outside, so i could still likely make the evening concert. but i would miss the elementary school concert. the one that i helped organize. the once in a lifetime one. blast.

after being crushed, there wasn't much else i could do about it, so i was glad to have work (and held a secret hope that the commercial would be rescheduled). i got a call from the production at 10:30 on thursday night while everyone was downstairs watching the pixar shorts. call time was at 6 a.m. at someplace called "wolf creek pass", which, according to google maps, meant i would need to be waking up in about five and a half hours. i loaded my gear into my car that night and, as an afterthought once the lights were out, grabbed by tally hall shirt and ticket, just in case.

work hard, play hard; that was my plan. the concert started (strangely early) at 6:30. by 4:30 the sun should be down in the mountains and we'd be wrapping. a 45 minute drive down to provo to pick up brooke and kristin+friend, 45 rocking in the car as we drove to salt lake, and we'd be there in time to see our five favorite guys in ties. cool.

wolf creek pass is not 45 minutes from provo. it makes kamas look conveniently located and took about an hour and a half to get to. around 5:52 a.m., i was certain i was going in the wrong direction, that i had missed a sign or a turnoff or something. i was driving down a lonely forested mountain road, with no sign or signal that i was even close to the location. for all i knew, i had missed a turn 20 minutes ago. i pulled over, checked my map again, which unfortunately looked like i was on the right path. less than a minute later on the road i came to the base camp. that's a story i'll probably use as an analogy in a sunday school lesson sometime.

we had a great camera crew, which, like any job, pretty much makes all the difference (mario's breakfast burritos are also packed with awesomeness). i loaded up plenty of film in the back of the production motor home then loaded all of my gear into a van and was shuttled to set half a mile away.

the title of the spot was "honda minnesota", and the first shot of the day had a guy helping his family and their cross-country ski gear into their suv then addressing the camera: "i love my [whatever car this was] because i live in minnesota!"


my guess is that utah is closer to california than minnesota and that we seem to have a stronger film community. they were lucky to have me there, because a few shots later we'd moved to another angle of the family cross-country skiing and i was able to counsel them that those mountains in the background were "not minnesota" and that they were pushing their luck with those hills in the midground. we ended up having to have the camera pretty much on the ground to get away with the shot.

with four layers of pants and five upper layers, i managed to keep warm. carrying cases through shin-deep snow helped, too, although the 9,500' air was counter-productive in all of that. the snow was actually "snow", created by shoving 5'x8'x1' blocks of ice through what looked like a mutant cotton gin. i later found out that the original plan was to shoot in soldier hollow, but there's no snow anywhere. that would have been more convenient for me.

we worked hard and it was a good day. soon, the sun began to set (not that it ever got very high in the sky). and that meant we started moving like crazy. two cameras getting different shots, pulling sleds of lens cases and really big lens cases through the snow, trying to get another take before the sun goes away completely; that's my day at work. soon it became a blur, me working to make sure that the camera had enough of the right kind of film ready and then unloading the rest of the magazines so that when they did call wrap, we could all get out of there as fast as we could.

the sun went down and the big lights came up. all of the insert shots in the car were saved for the end, when a 12,000 watt light could look light daylight. my gloveless hands were numb as i worked as fast possible, in and out of my little changing tent, hoping to stay one step ahead.

in the back of my mind, i wondered what would happen. if i could call kristin and brooke, i'd tell them to go up to salt lake and i'd meet them there. tragically, neither of them had the other's number or even knew each other. i had no idea what time it was, only that it was pretty much dark outside and that the 90 minute drive to provo would destroy our timetable. there was no phone reception anywhere near here for me to coordinate anything with anyone. if i missed the concert, well, i could live with that. but i hated thinking that my friends would miss it, too.
still, there was nothing i could do about this then, so i set it all in the back and focused on work.

they called wrapped. i worked as fast as my lifeless hands could, trying to warm myself beside the propane heater that was as close as i dared put it without harming the film. it felt like it must be 10:00. kindly, my car told me it was just after 7:00.
at around 7:30, i got phone reception as i was flooded with texts and voice mails. i was wasted from the day already and sorted through them, looking for any information about what had happened about the concert.
through a miracle of miracles, brooke and kristin had somehow gotten in touch with one another and had gone up to salt lake. i'm still not sure how that happened, but that was precisely what i had dreamed would happen and was a great relief! i came to find out that tally hall had not yet come on stage and that i should most certainly get myself there. i wanted to go home and collapse and be done with this day, but went at the admonition of the text.

i didn't know where i was or what was the best way to take, but around the time i was passing cars through parley's canyon, i got a call from kristin. i almost said "hello?", then realized what happens when one of us is at a concert: i held the phone to my ear and heard the entirety of "spring and a storm", my favorite tally hall song. it was bittersweet that i missing it, but a much-needed warm fuzzy that i still got to hear it. (i'm also grateful that i safely drove with one hand).

i parked in the same spot as i did when we first saw them there two years ago, changed into my blue tally hall shirt in the car and ran nonstop down the block to the venue. i got in just a minute after they'd finished their set, but found kristin, brooke, and allison and exchanged elated hugs all around. the stress of day, coupled with sitting in a car for 70 minutes then a desperate sprint left my legs shaking uncontrollably but i was just happy to be there. kristin said that she'd recorded all of their new songs on her camera for me. it's so nice to go to concerts with like-minded friends....

having missed the guys, i sauntered over to the merch table and looked around. there was a nice dark blue "tally hall" shirt that i dug, and i thought about it as i bought three "tally hall" stickers. kristin joined me and we looked through the band's guest book. i signed it then kristin produced an extra set of the wallet-sized pictures of us and them that were to be used later. being that we are the self-appointed tally hall fan (ed. note: "fanatic") presidents of the utah chapter, we borrowed some tape and attached our pictures to the insides of the front and back covers and somewhere in the middle, writing short memories alongside about each concert.
referring to the nice blue shirt, kristin asked if i would like an early Christmas present. let me just say it's pretty much my favorite tally hall shirt.

the main band at this show was a band called "rooney." i'd never heard of them, but after seeing enough bland bands open for tally hall, i knew that these guys were actually pretty good. i stood in the crowd with my girls and danced for a bit, but noticed that i was right in front of a couple of shorter girls and that they probably couldn't see very well. and as it was likely they were here to see these guys, i stepped out for a bit. plus, i needed a break from it all.
i was hanging back by the bar when i looked over and saw jared, whom i haven't seen in years. i walked over to him and he moved to let me by, then recognized me and gave me a big hug. it was nearly impossible to talk in there, but i asked him who he was here to see. he said that jason schwartzman had told him to come, since his brother was the lead singer in the band.
so there you go.
kristin came over and jared introduced himself, then we stepped out to get some water.

rooney ended the show and some of the tally hall guys were already appearing by the merchandise table in the back. we talked with andrew (green tie) for a while, then ross (slick grey) joined us. i had forgotten that kristin had gone to the elementary school concert that afternoon and had lunch with them (so so very lucky...), which explained why they all seemed to know her so well. we irritated the staff members by being in their way as they put away equipment from the concert and tried to ready the place to open as a club in twenty minutes. joe (red tie), rob (heterophonic yellow) and zubin (blue) looked to be pretty solidly trapped by a gaggle of girls as we tried to stall while the staff yelled for us to leave.

i took this time and had andrew and ross sign my shirt and managed to grab joe, too, who had managed to sneak away and was looking much more mellow than when we'd first met them two years ago. the big scary club workers shooed out the groupies and stared at us (also groupies) as we were finally getting to talk with rob and zubin about taking our traditional picture.
at the first concert, me, kristin, allison, and her friend steve took a picture with rob. it was awesome. next time, steve was gone, so rob wrote "steve-o" on his hand and zubin joined in. after that, allison was replaced with a sharpied palm and ross was in, too. we had to continue the tradition (perhaps the most important reason that i came), but it looked like we would be doing it outside (after accidentally walked into the bathroom).

in the orange light of the sodium-vapor streetlights, we arranged ourselves and took the picture. and then several more. i talked with rob about the concert that day and introduced everyone in our group. at the end of the kristin-and-the-guys (except for the mysteriously absent joe) picture, andrew hung up his phone and in polite seriousness said, "we have to go."

i sang through their cd on the way home as i reflected on the day. sitting at a freezing table with my hands in the middle of the changing tent in that dark and open snow field seemed days ago.
there's another lesson here, too. when the shoot had wrapped, it had been a long and full day. i was on very little sleep. it would have been so nice to go home and be done. but, with a little enthusiastic encouragement, i added another five hours on to my day. and that extra helping turned it from a banal day into a seriously great time.

and before the girls got back to my place, i snuck a tally hall magnet sticker on the back of kristin's van.


Brooke said...

A) Thanks for worrying about us. You rule! Kristen called Rocio and Rocio called me...and it all worked out wonderfully!

B) Thanks for Tally Hall-influencing me. I seriously like them. I found myself mumbling (since I still don't know all the words) their music all weekend.

C) I can't believe I missed the stickers! Was that what was in the little plastic bubble things? I thought those were fakey tatoos...

kwistin said...


that made me so happy (as i read it in its ENTIRETY).

i think it's so great that you remembered all the details; i had even forgotten some. this post is probably one of my you said, you can't appreciate the sweet without the bitter, right?

and the whole "spring and a storm" thing...i wasn't sure if it'd upset you or not, but i figured i'd take the gamble, basing my action on the fact you knew i wouldn't do it out of malice or jerk...ness. i'm really glad you enjoyed it.

and oh, van has never looked more beautiful. : )

Jaime said...

that, was a great story.