When remembering moments from the Festival there are a lot of really cool forward facing moments where we get to see all our hard work result in incredible audience experiences. That’s why we do what we do. I’d like to take a small departure from that and remember a moment of shocking randomness and inanity that has never made me more appreciative of the team I get to work with.
Each day of the Festival, the Film Team meets in the morning to brief one another on everything going on, so we can best be prepared. Our Theatre Operations Manager, Marissa, was running back to her car for a moment. She did not immediately return. Eventually my phone rang. It was Marissa.
She relayed to me that she was having car troubles. Her hazard lights would not turn off. How did they turn on? She returned to her car to discover a homeless gentleman sleeping in it. Marissa, professional that she is, handled that interaction like a champ. The lights just wouldn’t turn off.
So, myself and our Downtown Events Manager, Trent, joined her down at her car. Our morning was a bit lighter than hers. While laughing at the sheer ridiculousness of what was happening, I had Marissa head back to the office to keep prepping for the day and Trent and I would tackle the hazard lights.
Two things to preface at this point. I am not a car person and neither Trent nor I have particularly slept in a week at this point. So we were exactly the wrong sort of people to be trouble shooting car problems.
First, we discovered the car battery was in fact not under the hood. That threw us for a loop. We were hoping to do the old “turn it off and then on again routine.” Several google searches and a call to Marissa later, we learned the battery was in the trunk. We got to work disconnecting it. Big surprise, removing the battery did in fact turn the blinkers off. And hooking it back up turned them right back on.
Attempt two was to start messing with the fuses. Trent and I were both furiously scrolling through user manuals on our phones, but it was cold that morning and fingers in the open air weren’t the most nimble for web searches.
We proved unable to look up the correct fuse. So we took out each of them one at a time. This did not stop the hazards. At this point, Trent and I are delirious trying to figure this out. It’s freezing cold out, we haven’t slept, we’re stressed, the internet is rumoring some mysterious second fuse box. It was a lot.
This supposed second fuse box was supposedly under the glove box. Neither Trent or I could particularly fit in that space, but damn it all if I wasn’t going to try. My legs hanging out into the street and my body wedged on the floor of Marissa’s car, I noticed the hazard light button. There was no way, no way, that no one pressed the button. Absolutely not. So I pressed the button. Thankfully, nothing happened and I Trent and I weren’t complete fools. To really make sure though I hit the dash board with my fist like an old tube tv and the button popped out with a click.
“THE LIGHTS TURNED OFF! WHAT DID YOU DO!?”
And thus, two grown men were reduced to crying fits of laughter on a downtown street of Austin, Texas.
This moment of joy kept me going for the rest of the Festival and I think is a pretty great metaphor for success overall. Tenacity, working together, and a little luck can solve any problem. Including the problem of fixing vehicle hazard lights after a homeless man takes a nap in your crewmember’s car during the final days of a massive festival you’ve been working non-stop on for months.
Literally any problem.