It was from Josh, giving me an update on the export of Jonah. He said the status bar was showing more than five hours of export time remaining. That would mean the export would be done around 10 p.m. the day before its first public screening. Close, but shouldn’t be anything to sweat over, right?
Wrong. I was starting to sweat. The problem was when I had left the office a couple of hours earlier to head up to the festival, it was showing about three hours of export time remaining. I’m was no math major, but if something is saying it has three hours to go, in two hours there should be one hour left. Not five. This was not good.If something went wrong with the export, starting another export would mean it would finish just a couple of hours before our screening. And if something went wrong with that export, we’d have to resort to using hand shadows on the screen to tell the story.
I left mid-screening (hated to do that to any filmmakers in the auditorium) and hurried back to the office. Not much I could do, except stare at that status bar and try to will it to progress. If I didn’t see any signs of progress soon, I would have to do the unthinkable: shut down and start over. I ended up sticking a post-it note on the computer and marking the status bar’s current progress with a notch.
I tried to do other stuff, but I kept glancing back at the machine, hoping to see movement. During a phone call to my wife, I glanced over again and saw what appeared to be at minuscule progress, but still – progress. It was still saying more than 5 hours of export time remaining, but at least I had evidence it hadn’t given up the ghost.
At about 11 p.m. on screening eve, it was saying 10 more minutes. The status bar had a quarter inch to go. It had been stuck there for while, and since work on Jonah had left me only three hours of sleep the night before and none the night before that, I took a seat in my reclining chair to try to get a few minutes of shut eye. That was a show of optimism, because if the export worked, I would need to be alert enough to watch the movie from beginning to end and if something was wrong with it, fix it and start a new export and hope that it would be done in time.
I shut my eyes for about 10 minutes, then snuck a peek. The status bar hadn’t moved. Another 10 minutes went by, another peek, and still no progress. Surely, it wouldn’t get stuck at with a quarter inch to go. Exhausted, I was pretty much at my rope’s end.
I decided that the little prayer fragments I had been tossing up weren’t cutting it. More was required. Not sure if this is kosher, but I knelt by that computer and offered up a prayer for a status bar. A lot of people had worked very hard over the last four years to bring this little piece of uplifting entertainment to the world, so if it was at all possible, could this status a bar please move that last quarter inch?
It took another half hour or so, but it closed the gap. After a heartfelt prayer of thanks, I nervously watched the movie, doing my best to focus on every frame to make sure nothing glitched. I got to the end, and as far as my bleary eyes could tell, the export worked. I sent another type of export on its way as a back up, and made my way home by 2 a.m., where I would take a four-hour nap before heading back into the office to finish up the back-up export.
At the festival, the movie played. More about that another time.
Afterwards, we took the family out for a little celebratory dinner. Someone asked if I would sleep all day tomorrow. I mentioned that I had a 7 a.m. church meeting, and someone joked that I should miss it. I confess, I momentarily entertained the idea.
But I remembered that status bar prayer and decided skipping my meeting would not be cool. It reminded me a bit of the old story about a man who was up on a roof of a tall house, slipped and began sliding toward the edge. He offered up a prayer that if God would save him, he would devote the rest of his life to service. And as the man went over the edge, his belt loop caught on a nail, saving him. He offered a follow-up prayer, “Nevermind, God, I took care of it myself.”
So at 7 a.m. this morning, I was at my church meeting. Bleary-eyed, but there. There are no atheists in foxholes or when 11th hour exports are stuck a quarter-inch from the finish line.