Take up to fifty or sixty highly skilled and driven people. Put them all into a pressure cooker for anywhere from twelve to sometimes eighteen hours a day. Have them do the most ridiculous things, from mugging in front of a camera to waving a smoke machine around a set. Lock them into this situation for anywhere from three to five, or more, months and you'll have yourself a movie. But you'll also have a highly dysfunctional, sometimes contentious, but often fiercely loyal family. Now, at the end of this long period, you fire them all and send them on their separate ways. No matter what happens you will rarely, if ever, have the same combination of people together at the same time again. Out of this pressure cooker lifelong friendships are made, as well as lifelong enemies. Babies are born, marriages begin and end. No matter what the outcome, strong ties are made. This is a film crew.
I have a day off tomorrow. It wasn't planned. I'm not happy about it, though not for the reasons you might think. My current job was supposed to carry on until just before Christmas. I've been on this particular show for three months now, and like the story always goes I've made some good friends, forged some ties. Together, the cast and crew of this production have been frozen, rained on, shot at, blown up, and smoked out. We've had countless hours of down time to tell our stories and miss our loved ones and wonder, "What is the holdup?" And I've enjoyed almost every minute of it. Until now. One of our own, a young man of immense talent, humility, and humor has left us before the last martini shot. Now this pressure cooker I spoke of earlier, it makes you forget the outside world. You forget that in the scheme of things what we are all doing means less than nothing. None of us are heroes. I'm not saving lives or protecting anyone. The danger that our cast is in and the heroics that they perform are purely manufactured. You get to know people beyond the screen persona that the rest of the world sees. I didn't know Paul Walker well. I had passing words with him for the first month or so of production. In the last month or so, however, our hours and downtime had placed us in the position of having time to talk. He told me about his daughter and how much he missed her. He told me how much his father loved seeing him and his brothers when they visited and how they had in recent years become much closer. I told him about my daughter. And my father. We didn't become friends, but we were acquaintances...thrown into that pressure cooker we've both been a part of for upwards of twenty years now. I made him laugh. And he made us all laugh. I don't know what went wrong with that car on Saturday afternoon that caused it to crash and take the lives of two young men. I do know that I am grateful to have had the small sliver of insight into the life of one of them. The other, I know nothing about. As the media machine does, it has virtually turned him into a shadow, obliterated by the celebrity of his passenger. I'm sorry for that. It must be incredibly hard on his family to see him become an unnamed footnote in the media gossip machine. I wish things were different. I wish I didn't get that cold stone in my chest every time I think of Paul Walker now. Above all, I wish I didn't have that day off tomorrow.
I don't know what will happen with the job now. Maybe it will go on, maybe it won't. This isn't the first time this sort of thing has happened and it won't be the last. But for those of us who were in that three month pressure cooker and those who had known Paul much longer and better than I, there is a hole that will not be filled. Thanks for the laughs, buddy. See you down the road.