Recently I was working very hard. As I was riding the train into work early one morning, already feeling beat-down tired before the day had even begun, I tried to put that particular schedule-crunch in perspective… It was not the hardest that I have EVER worked, but certainly the hardest I have worked in many years. After some reflection, I realised that the hardest I ever worked was on the worst stuff I ever worked on. Namely some really wretched Saturday morning cartoons in the late 1980s. This shouldn’t have surprised me… It had already occurred to me years ago that it takes just as much hard work to make a bad show as it does to make a great one… but I guess I had forgotten that lesson over time.
When people express their displeasure with a film that they do not like (or a comic book, or what have you) they frequently bad-mouth the people who worked on it, as if only lazy talentless morons could be responsible. In some cases that may indeed be the explanation… but not as often as you might think. In my experience the sad reality is that there are a lot of smart, talented people absolutely busting their backs to produce the entertainment that you hate. I know, because I have worked with them when I worked on it myself.
Its a bit counter-intuitive, isn’t it? The best explanation may be a tug of war; on the projects that don’t turn out so well everyone is working as hard as they can, but the rope is barely moving at all because all the effort is at cross purposes and towards different directions. When I was working on such projects, the love of the job itself and the camaraderie of my co-workers kept me going, even though I knew our hard work may have been in vain… PLUS, it was the best work that I could find at the time.
So next time you watch a complete mess unfold on screen, by all means wonder at the strenuous effort taken to go nowhere, but don’t hate the crew.