Have you ever thought about the hardest thing you ever did, professionally, academically, personally? When you look back, did things turn out how you thought? Did it end up being worth the effort and worry? Did you learn something from it?
Without question, the most difficult project I ever had to endure professionally was this crazy viral video produced for a pool chemical company a few years ago. As a producer in an ad agency, I was accustomed to challenging projects. And you may think making videos and commercials sounds cool, but anyone who has worked in or around an advertising agency, is thinking, “Her job sucks.” It’s true that being a producer can be fun and cool but it was also extremely stressful. Insane deadlines, impossible budgets, and pushing the envelope were a part of every second of every day.
Never was that more true than this particular video project. The concept was to create a video that would hopefully spread across the Internet that showed kids recreating the famous Las Vegas Bellagio fountains….with squirt guns. Pretty cool concept, huh? The client thought so, too, and bought into the idea before we ever knew if we could pull it off.
Pulling it off with a tiny budget proved to be extremely hard. Have you ever seen squirt guns spray that hard and that high? The budget didn’t allow hiring a production company or even a production crew. We did this all with agency staff. The creative director was the director and editor; the copywriter and account executive were the choreographers; the art director rigged the squirt guns and handled the lighting; and the producer (me) casted the talent, found the location, acquired the props, managed the shoot schedule, and basically did all the crap work no one else wanted to do….in just a few short weeks. Halfway into it, I wanted to launch a torpedo at the creative director’s face. At no point prior to the shoot day did I think it was going to work.
There were too many unknowns. The talent wasn’t professional. Most of the kids in this video are friends of my daughter and son or friends of the crew. The weather was unpredictable as mid afternoon thunderstorms were a given in the South, but could potentially wreak havoc on a tight shoot schedule relying on 10 hours of sunlight. And the biggest question was whether the cheap plastic squirt guns could survive so many hours of performing?
Even after we wrapped shooting, I was relieved the kids survived 10 hours in a pool with cold water falling on them the entire time. I was relieved it didn’t rain. I was relieved the creative director didn’t scream any profanity all day, and the client seemed to have fun chilllin out by the pool, but I still wasn’t confident we’d pulled it off. I never expected the finished product to be the overwhelming hit that it became.
The kids were wrinkled up like prunes but I was thrilled they endured a grueling day. Most were athletes or cheerleaders and although they were accustomed to working as part of a team, and persevering through pain, they had no idea how hard it would be to do the same thing over and over and over and over again all day long.
In the end, they were very proud. The video spread virally over the Internet, garnering over 1,000,000 hits and was featured on Bing’s home page as well as The Discovery Channel and many other news outlets & blogs. I was proud, too. I credit the agency crew for working together even when we wanted to kill each other; I applaud the kids for working so dang hard for a pittance of compensation; and I commend the client for believing in us. It feels good to have persevered through the uncertainty, anxiety, and frustrations. It was very hard work, but it was fun.
So, whatever seemingly impossible task you encounter as you enter the workforce, keep in mind that you never know how things may turn out. Good or bad, what matters is that you give it your best effort, and push through the difficulties, take pride in your work, and whatever the outcome, you’ll be better off for having done it.