Q: When was the last time you stayed awake for 24 hours?
A: How about 40 hours straight?! The last time I was severely sleep deprived was back in 2003, the summer of the big blackout. I was producing a complex visual-effects-laden HD commercial for Canon; we were under such a tight deadline that we had to work ’round the clock in the studio to complete the effects to the clients’ satisfaction. The following afternoon we were all guzzling coffee and squinting at the screen, putting the final touches on the spot. Suddenly the screen shuts down and comes back on again. We blinked, and it shut down on us again, completely dead. We thought it was a hardware malfunction until we realized the entire facility had lost power. Next thing I know, my staff and clients were all on the roof deck listening to a transistor radio, learning what had happened.
As the sun went down, my IT guy offered to drive me home to Astoria so I could get some sleep. Somehow he wiggled his SUV out of a traffic jam on an eerily dark 1st ave to escape onto an even darker FDR drive. I had forgotten what an insane driver he was – at speeds up to 80mph in complete darkness we nearly caused half a dozen accidents as we wound our way up the river. Once in my apartment, I nearly burned it down – in my exhaustion i couldn’t find a flashlight, only matches and eventually a candle.
Too wiped out to join my neighbors in the streets who were drinking and partying, I was also too overtired to sleep. I think I eventually got about an hour or two — after having been up for 40 hours! Two days later, we finally shipped the commercial so it could air. It was a tremendous accomplishment and garnered attention for the studio, but I was too exhausted and bitter to appreciate it.