My friend was pondering "Happy Absurdity" recently and I told her that it happens to me on most film jobs, and I started to remember....
Take a HOT day, an indecisive client, a crabby director and an ever increasingly irate crew...stir together and you've got a long torturous day. Then add to that the final ingredient, client direction that was mind-blowingly ridiculous, and you've got moments of happy absurdity. Those are the moments when things are so bizarre, so surreal, so WTF goofy, that you get that warm, giggly feeling.
At one point the producer asked me to keep track of the time it took us to do several new shots the client just came up with. I was happy to take detailed notes on this insanity, since by coming up with last minute changes we were now headed down the road of a 20 plus hour day.
For example one client epiphany was to have the actor really portray how good the product smelled. So we did take after take with the client yelling at the director, "Do it again, and I really want to see her smelling the brats! Make her FLAIR her nostrils more!" I'm not quite sure how one flair's their nostrils without looking ridiculous, but our actress made an honest attempt. Of course it never really worked on screen as she just kept looking like she was either going cross-eyed, or there was something seriously wrong with her nose.
Then the client decided to throw out the director's shot list. The director defended his vision... in vain... because we all know, client and agency always win, no matter how ridiculous their ideas are, we always end up shooting the shot where the actor over reacts to the action. For the client of course.
Around hour 18 during a re-light, I slid down and crouched behind a chair in the home we were filming at. Partly to get out of the way of grip and electric, but also partly to hide. A few moments later the camera assistant saw me and snuggled in next to me. I smiled at him and he at me and we didn't say anything. We just hid there like a couple of kids who sneaked out of bed until they called for us. Happy absurdity.
We wrapped that shoot day around 3am. Even though it was a strange day. I remember feeling very happy that in a few weeks I would receive a very fat pay check for a most absurd work day.