The Thursday Think Tanks are semi-random thoughts that may not necessarily fall directly into the category of finances, but I still feel are worth sharing. Read at your own risk!
Starting Credit Card Debt (01.01.19): $126,310.77
Current Credit Card Debt: $109,570.87
Total Paid Off: $16,739.90
Income Going to Savings: 2%
I don’t really talk about it too much on this site, but I work in videogames. I’ll go into much greater detail on a future Think Tank about my journey through the business, but I started as a Software Test Engineer, moved to Animator and then Art Director, and I am now a Producer.
Working in this industry has afforded me many great opportunities, but the one that sits at or very near the top is the time I got to speak to a capacity room at San Diego Comicon with Mr. Terry Crews.
A while back, I worked on a game called “Crackdown 3,” which is a game about super cops called “Agents” who fight crime in the not-too-distant future. Our amazing Marketing person had the brilliant idea to try to cast a celebrity in the lead role for the game, and she focused almost from day one on Terry. To our shock and surprise, she actually pulled it off, and he agreed to take part in our videogame.
I co-wrote and co-directed many of the cutscenes in the game, as well as all of our trailers for various tradeshows and events. I also drew the very first concepts of what would become our Agents’ signature armor in the game, and a modified version of that design was eventually physically built for Terry to wear in many live-action spots.
My first interaction with him was one I’ll never forget…
We shot our first live-action promo for the game on a soundstage not far off the Sunset Strip in Hollywood. Terry showed up all smiles, and we started getting him into his armor costume. The suit he wore looked like badass futuristic SWAT gear, complete with lights and combat scars, and was built by the same company that built some of the Iron Man suits.
Terry walked out of the dressing room, smiled at us and said, “I look amazing!” He did too. If you didn’t walk up and touch the suit, which was mostly plastic, he looked exactly like the high-tech Agent that he was supposed to.
We shot the first couple of takes, and I realized we had made a terrible mistake in the suits design…
We had exposed very few of Terry’s massive arm muscles.
So I asked if we could possibly make an on-the-fly adjustment to the suit, cutting the material off of his biceps to expose his guns. The costume person did just that, and Terry stood patiently as they delicately cut the suit from his arm, all the while saying things like, “Oh baby… I hear a GUN SHOW is on it’s way. We’re in Hollywood, and that sun is starting to come out… better get the guns out too!” He was great, and had us all entertained while we waited the 20 minutes to get the suit fixed.
The moment they gave him the thumbs up, he flexed in the traditional bodybuilder double bicep pose, and I’m here to tell you right now that each of his biceps is bigger than my head.
The shoot continued on fantastically past this, but at a certain point Terry’s muscles began to destroy the suit. His chest is so damn big and he is so physical that the suit started to break apart, often resulting in the chest plate popping up into his face like the hood of the car that David Spade and Chris Farley drive in the film “Tommy Boy.” Each time it busted apart in some fashion they’d run in and add some adhesive or duct tape. By the end of the shoot, it was barely holding together.
In any downtime Terry and I spent a lot of time talking about our kids. He seems like a fantastic Dad, and told me that his son was never impressed with his movie and TV work, and was often bored on the set. However when Terry told him he was making a videogame, his son’s eyes lit up with excitement. He then thanked us for giving him something to bond over with his son. It was such a touching moment that I named Terry’s in-game character Isaiah after Terry’s son of the same name. Terry was thrilled.
From that moment on he was up for almost anything we could put him through. He did mo-cap sessions for us, had 3D scans taken of his head and face, and recorded countless voiceover sessions. He was rad to work with. I did several more live-action shoots with him, but the coolest live event by far was yet to come.
As part of the promotion for the game, we asked him to come speak on a panel at the San Diego Comicon in 2017, along with our lead Designer, Narrative Designer, and… me.
I had never been to the San Diego Comicon, nor did I know what to expect. A week or so before the event they told us that our room was at capacity, and there were going to be hundreds of people there to listen to our panel. On top of this, given that I was the person who had worked the closest with Terry, I was asked to sit next to him and be a very active part of the panel.
There are those times in life where you reach a moment where you have to decide if you’re going to let you fear consume you, or if you’re just going to take the leap and throw caution to the wind to see what happens.
This was one of those moments for me.
Backstage I was BEYOND nervous. My palms were dripping they were so sweaty, my heart was racing, and I couldn’t seem to get any moisture in my mouth no matter how much water I drank.
As you can imagine, Terry was a pro. He was joking and laughing with people, and being the supernova of energy that he is. He must have sensed my nervousness, because when the person came to take us on the long walk down back hallways to our room, Terry looked at me and said, “Don’t worry, big man. I got you.”
That simple comment made me realize that the pressure was not on me. I was a nobody Art Director. Terry Crews on the other hand was the one everyone was really there to see, and he was telling me that he was totally okay with that.
We walked into the massive room to the roar of applause, took the stage, and proceeded to tell tons of stories that had the crowd highly entertained. Terry talked about building his first PC, and I talked about his muscles blowing the suit apart.
It was over in the blink of an eye, but not before I had time to consciously step back and realize just how far I had come. I was a farm kid with a high school degree who planned to spend the rest of his life knee-deep in cow manure, and now here I was doing something like this. It was surreal.
I still send Terry a message now and then, and he usually replies. Sometimes he doesn’t at all though, and I understand. I was of course kidding about the whole “best friends” thing, and I’m simply grateful for the fantastic experience I had. It was, after all, my discussions with Terry while he was getting into makeup or costume that resulted in my weight loss. He talked to me about health, and our kids, and how important it is to not only be healthy so that we can play sports and remain active with them, but also so that we can set an example for them of how to live a healthy lifestyle of their own.
I was so inspired by our chats that I changed my diet and exercise habits almost immediately and ultimately shed 100lbs that I have kept off for over 2 years now. Terry is a true inspiration, and I feel extremely fortunate to have spent a brief moment with him on my journey through life.
As for San Diego Comicon, I am proud that I sat up there scared out of my melon and talked to that room. I can now say that I’ve shared a stage with Terry Crews, and not too many other people I know can say the same.
If you want to see Terry in the suit and watch our panel, it’s up on YouTube. I’m a lot “thicker” in that video than I am now, but I’m okay with that because it gives me a better story to tell.