Monty Oum was my friend and I am so fortunate to be able to say that.
Those who don’t know Monty don’t understand how hard working he was. He was superhuman in his ability. His keyboard was missing keys because his hands moved so fast, the unused keys would literally get in the way and waste his time with accidental presses. I would hear anecdote after anecdote about how dedicated he was to saving time, down to even a couple seconds.
I remember when he first pitched his idea for RWBY to me, all I could think was, “this is so ambitious, this would take forever and take so many resources to accomplish.” Then two years later, he pitched me how he was going to pull it off, and I said “wow, this is a great idea, but it’s so ambitious.”
Then I would tell him my goals, and my creative vision, and he would just tell me, “you can do it. You can pull that off, what are you afraid of? If it’s not good, whatever, at least you MADE something.” Not a single shred of doubt, just blunt but warm encouragement.
Years down the line, while he was neck deep in season 2 of his ambitious project I thought could never be pulled off, he’s greeting me with a hug and asking me about my project I told him about years ago that I haven’t even considered to start on. And he’s asking about the characters by name and moments in the story he remembered after all this time. He wasn’t just a machine obsessed with his work, he cared. He cared about me and my ideas.
So, here was a guy who didn’t want to waste any time that could be spent working. Here’s a guy who bit off way more than he could chew, and chewed it to a fucking pulp. And here he was dedicating this very specific time and space in his life for me and my ideas. It spoke volumes about the kind of guy he was, and what kind of values he had.
I feel like, when people pass, we talk a lot about what was great about them with lavish praise. The truth is, I wish I could have told him these things right to his face. I wish I could have told him how much, even in the little time we’ve spent together, that he changed my life and my outlook on work and creativity, on being a good person and a good friend. I think it’s true that most people don’t really examine that sort of thing until it’s too late, but I would give up a whole lot just to let him know how I felt about him, and then hear him say something like “that’s great to hear, but what are you wasting your time telling me this for? Get back to work!”
If you’re an artist and you’re struggling with the thought that you’re not good enough to pull off what you want, don’t wait. Just do it. Do it now. Make time for it. Nobody cares that you got 8 hours of sleep instead of 6 when you’re gone. Nobody cares that you kept up to date on your Facebook feed every day when you’re gone. What transcends you is your work and the impression you left behind. I met so many people this past weekend who wept for Monty because of what he meant to them, and every single one shared what an inspiration he was for them. He was taken way too early, but I don’t feel like he would have any regrets about the things he has or hasn’t accomplished. That was how he lived his life. He didn’t wait for the next day to get something done, and he didn’t wait until it was the right moment let someone know he cared. He just did it.
He always said that following his resolve would guarantee success, and following his resolve is exactly how I hope to honor him.
Goodbye, Monty. Love you, buddy.