The Worst Greenlight Meeting Ever!

green-light or green·light

tr.v. green-light·ed or green·light·ed, green-light·ing or green·light·ing, green-lights or green·lights Informal

To give permission to proceed with a creative project: “[He] commissioned the pilot that became ‘Captain Kangaroo’ and greenlighted the series” (Variety).


It started with me squashed up against the bumper of a car on what looks like a small road, packed with other cars. I’m pushed up so close to the car I can see the speckling of light rust in the paintwork. All around me I can hear shouts and screams and small arms fire. I can really smell the acrid, smoke of burning plastics, metal and fuel.

I’m wearing my usual work get up i.e. The Scruffy Bugger-look ™ although for some reason I’ve got a Glock in my hand. This isn’t standard work issue! The gun is bloody warm, I think this means I’ve fired it a few times already or maybe my hands are just warm! I’m transfixed looking at this gun, tilting it to each side, marvelling at how ‘matte’ the metal is… I suddenly realise that my name is being called repeatedly. As I look up and across from where I’m crouched I see my old boss from a studio I used to work at when I first started in the industry, what the hell is Scott doing here?! His clothes are torn and he’s a right mess, face dirty, blood splatters over him. His eyes are wide with shock and the adrenaline that’s clearly pumping through his veins. A noise down the street causes him to break away from looking at me and he stands up, points the AK47 that he’s suddenly holding in his hands and fires wildly, all the time shouting “FU*KERS!!!!”

His clip runs out and he crouches back down behind the bumper of his car, slams in a fresh one and then looks across again at me. “Si” he starts, catching his breath, “we need to move, if we don’t get past the first couple of slides then we are screwed”  Not having any idea what he’s talking about I just simply nod my head. Shots ring out from behind us and we both look back and see a couple of figures running towards us. Its a pair of project managers I know. They’re carrying rucksacks that are almost full to bursting with ammunition. Whilst one stands, obviously keeping an eye out the other says “stock up lads we’re here for the long haul, its a 50-slider this one” Scott grabs a handful of clips, passes a couple to me. I mutter a thanks. I realise that I can handle them with frightening familiarity as I check them. Rattled for no good reason, I stick them in the back pocket of my jeans. “c’mon, lets go… we need to move to the core feature set section” Scott shouts, and then he promptly stands up, lets loose another hail of bullets and invective as he moves out of my line of sight.

Suddenly afraid to be alone, I too stand up and I’m hit by this overwhelming feeling of vertigo as I look down the street and see what’s headed this way. The whole scene rapidly shrinks down to a dot. Sound is muted, my perception focuses down to a pinprick of light and then, just as suddenly reality swooshes back in. I feel totally panicked. What the hell do I do?! Staggering down the road (which I now realise is in Crouch End) towards us is the cast of the Walking Dead…not Sheriff Rick and Pals but the literal series namesakes. Zombies. Dozens of bloody zombies. Shambling, moaning & groaning, the ones missing limbs dragging themselves along the floor. Its the cocking living dead. Headed my way. WTF?! I’m dreaming right? But what the hell am I doing in Crouch End? I’ve not been there since I was in my early 20′s! I think this to myself as I stand there looking down the road at the undead horde stumbling towards me.

The sounds, the smells and the HDR-esque hyper-reality of the situation is trying to convince me its all real. Someone collides with me. Hitting me square in my back, knocking the wind out of me. Hands on my shoulder, arm, then grabbing at my hand as whoever it is stumbles towards the ground. Forgetting what I’ve just seen I instinctively go to help. Its a QA manager – Dave – that I used to work with many moons ago. I help him to his feet and then pick up the assault rifle he’s dropped, passing it to him he says’ “thanks Si, we need to keep pushing forward, they are buying into the proposition but we need marketing support” He thanks me again and then heads off towards to zombies, firing as he goes – taking a good few of them down.

This can’t be real… I try and wake myself up. Shaking my head, scrunching my eyes closed and then open them quickly again as a bullet whizzes past my head. My shoulder is also still hurting from the collision with Dave. Scott is suddenly there again by my side “move! its time to show the ripo” and with that he dives to the side, shooting Max Payne-style at some zombies that I’d not noticed stumbling on the pavement to my left. The realisation that this might be real suddenly hits home. It makes no sense whatsoever, but my senses can’t be lying to me can they? The nearest zombie is now only a handful of metres away from me. Despite the ruin of its face I clearly recognise it as an Exec from a (now defunct) 3rd party from my early career. Without even realising it, I’ve raised the gun and fired several shots at the creature, two of the shots went wide but the third hit home blowing the head clean off. The body collapsed to the floor.

I feel compelled into action and start to move forward, raising the gun and firing as I go taking down several more undead (recognising some of them from places I’ve worked) Mentally saying ‘sorry’ each time a bullet hits home, I move down the street. All around me, mini pitched battles between game-dev colleagues and the undead are taking place, not all them are going in the favour of the living. I try to even out the odds as much as I can as I move further down the street, discarding used clips at an alarming rate.

Ahead, I can see that there’s a barricade and a concentrated body of people firing weapons together. I decide to head there. The barricade is about waist high and made out of sandbags and barbed wire and spreads across the road, blocking it off totally. Filling out almost the entire span of the makeshift blockade are survivors all armed with various weapons – handguns, rifles, swords and even a bazooka! Stumbling up the street towards the barricade is a mass of zombies, arms outstretched and probably crying out the cliched ‘braaaaaain’ thing they do in the movies (although they are too far away to hear clearly, so it could just be the wind!)

There are so many undead its impossible to count. With a feeling of despair I realise that there is way more of them than us. We’re finished. Dejected, I wander along the barricade until I see this guy wearing a get-up that wouldn’t have looked out of place in Saving Private Ryan. He’s holding a Thompson machine gun and has sergent bands on the sleeve. He’s wearing a radio backpack, in the hand without the gun he’s having an argument with whoever is on the other end of the line.  The guy is really familiar and I’m trying to think which studio I know him from, when I realise that it might actually be Tom Hanks. He’s got that look about him. He’s pretty pissed though so I don’t think asking him for an autograph is going to go down too well. “we need need air support right now!” he bellows “my guys are right out in the open, they need get the hell outta here!”

Another guy also in WWII uniform, skinny and looking really young runs up to ‘Possible Tom Hanks’ and tugs on his sleeve, ‘Could-be Tom’ turns and glares until he realises who it is and bends over slightly to hear what Skinny Guy is saying, time feels like its slowing down. Message delivered Skinny Guy runs off to somewhere on the right, A wicked smile crosses Might-be Tom Hank’s face as he stands back up straight. “GREENLIGHT!, GREENLIGHT! we are GO, I repeat we are go! We have Marketing support!!!” A rousing cheer goes up from the survivors behind me, just as a squad of jets fly across the building tops, dropping napalm on the advancing zombie horde. People all around are jumping up and down in jubilation, hugging each other and laughing. The roaring cheers reach a crescendo that I didn’t think possible from human throats as the unbearably bright light from the napalm rolls towards the barricade. Its all consuming, everything disappears into its burning heart, all the fear, all the panic, all the tension is just. Just gone. Then. Nothing.

Silence. An almost complete absence of sensation other than I think I’m floating. I wake suddenly. Its was a dream. Just a dream. Heart racing, I force my breathing to slow. Opening my eyes slowly I realise that I squashed up against the bumper of a parked car. I’m pushed up so close to the car I can see the speckling of light rust in the paintwork. As my awareness broadens, all around me I can hear shouting, screams ringing out and the horrible buzzing and pinging of weapons being discharged. Somewhere nearby, something is on fire. I think I can hear sirens in the distance. Funny though, it sounds like its playing the marimba tune from my iPod alarm…


 copyright Si Donbavand 2014

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