Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Of course this was going to happen.

It never fails. Whenever I have something to do that can’t (or shouldn’t) be rescheduled, someone will call me for work.

This happens so consistently that I’m hesitant to schedule anything in advance anymore – doctor’s visits, vacations, car maintenance, tax appointments, dates.

Naturally, since I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow that I don’t want to reschedule, I got called for work by a best boy that I’ve had to turn down the past couple of times he’s tried to book me.

Although I hate turning down work, I’m sufficiently desperate to get my feet looked at that I bit the bullet and turned homeboy down again.

Dammit.

Did I mention that if one turns down work too often people will assume that one is never available and stop calling?

Dammit, dammit, dammit.

This podiatrist better be worth it.

Filed under: Non-Work

Friday Photo

I’m always going on about color temperature and swearing I’ll explain it later, so here’s a photo which illustrates everything:

Diner

Note how blue the outside looks. This is because tungsten sources (the interior lights) are much warmer (more orange) than daylight.

You don’t usually see this color difference in movies because we match the lights inside and outside so everything looks even.

On a completely unrelated note: I saw Transamerica with a friend last night.

If Felicity Huffman doesn’t win the Oscar ™ for Best Actress, I will personally give a wedgie to the first Acadamy ™ member I catch.

Filed under: Photos, Work

Call me a hypochondriac, will you?

Ever since I’ve had medical insurance (starting when I got in the union), I’ve been complaining about my feet. Insoles, acupuncture, ice packs, horribly expensive shoes – nothing seems to help.
Whenever I’ve mentioned it to my doctor, he’s given me a referral to a podiatrist to get new insoles, or told me to sit down more often.

Today, I got him to really look at my feet and it turns out that I’ve got bunions – bad ones – on both feet (I can’t figure out how that happened – I don’t wear tight shoes), plus plantar fasciitis, and some nerve damage from my shoes putting pressure on the tops of my feet (my arches are so high that the top of the foot’s curved, so I’m going to have to change the type of shoe I wear. Dammit. I just paid out the fucking nose for new work shoes and now I may not be able to wear them).

The triumph I feel at finally being vindicated is tempered by the fact that I may have to have foot surgery.

I’m seeing the podiatrist on Tuesday – 9 am in Santa Monica, which means I’ll have to leave my house at 7 am to make the rush-hour cross town trip.

Let’s hope my fucked up feet can be corrected without surgery (which, if I have to have, I guarantee will happen right as it gets busy. Murphy’s Law again, you know).

Filed under: Non-Work

When is a joke not really a joke?

While watching a Simpsons DVD today (I should have been re-doing the grout in the tub, but I just had to see the episode where the movie shoots in Springfield), I saw something that was intended as a joke, but in fact really exists:

There is actually such a thing as a movie screw.

No, it’s not when you sign your deal memo* – it’s a 3/4 inch drywall screw.

Go ahead – try to find one at Home Depot. Screw that (pun intended) – try to find one online. Try to find one anywhere.

Although they’re the standard screw in the film industry (well, one of them at least) – just about everything is built with them as they’re the perfect size for just about anything – the only way that I know of to get a box of 3/4 inch drywall screws is to ask the grips to order one for you.

They have some secret source for the damned things.

A significant percentage of the stuff in my house is held together with salvaged 3/4 inch drywall screws: bookcases, the couch (don’t ask), the desk, the spice rack.

Want to figure out which one I am on set?

I’m the one harvesting the discarded movie screws from the stage floor.

* A deal memo is what we sign when we start a job. It spells out the terms of the contract (no double time until after 14 hours, crappy rate/good rate, whether or not we get ‘kit rental’ – which is pay for use of our personal gear), and you have to sign it or you don’t get paid.

Filed under: Work

Scenes of a Vanishing Southern California

Not so many years ago, Camarillo was a mostly agricultural seaside town northwest of Los Angeles. I never really went up there as I had no reason – it was mostly strawberry fields and hillside orchards (all private property, so unfortunately no picnics allowed).

Sunday, our location was one of those hillside orchards, and as I pulled off the freeway into what I thought was still a mostly agrarian community, I got a nasty shock.

Within the past few years, vast tracts of once-farmland have been subdivided and turned into housing developments with names like “Avocado Acres” and “Terra Bella Estates”. It’s happening everywhere, so I don’t know why I didn’t expect it this time. I guess I figured that food production was a pretty high priority.

Silly me.

With the gentrification marching onward (thus making urban areas increasingly unaffordable) and housing prices continuing to skyrocket, farmland becomes less and less financially viable – so Southern California is quickly turning into a region of wall-to-wall tract housing and strip malls.

Views like these are, sadly, now very rare:

Camarillo

Panoramic

Eucalyptus trees

Camarillo

I understand the need to build more housing.

It just makes me kind of sad to see Southern California chewing up our agricultural heritage and spitting out acres and acres of identical Mediterranean-style stucco houses.

Filed under: life in LA, Photos, Work

Leave this to me, I’m a professional truck monkey

Loading a truck is a bit like playing Tetris ™. Everything has to go in a certain way, even if we’ve got a ‘real’ truck with shelves down the sides.

The reason for this is obvious – we have to be able to work off of said truck, and if stuff’s just thrown in a pile (also called ‘shovel-loaded’), it’s impossible to find anything quickly, and stuff gets broken in transit.

On this shoot, our ‘truck’ is a cargo van driven by the DP, which is carrying our stuff, a small generator, two heaters (the big ones that are the size of a small end table), a bunch of propane tanks, camera cases and grip equipment.

Needless to say, we don’t have a lot of equipment, but we’re all possessed of the same burning desire not to have to unload the entire van every day just to find one stand that’s buried.

Unfortunately, yesterday that’s exactly what we had to do, as the van was shovel-loaded really badly.

We still had to unload everything yesterday (as we used all our lights), but at least this time we got some ‘alone time’ to sit and think about how to load all of the stuff.

There’s a thought process that happens when you have to work off of a truck every day. You really do learn how to load stuff in a sensible manner, and once we were able to sit down and hash it out “Well, let’s put the stands there, and the rags here, that way we can lay the ladders down on top of it all”, it went in fairly neatly at wrap, despite the lack of shelving or ‘tie off’ points.

I’m sure it’ll come out quickly tomorrow morning.

I’m tired, and am off to bed.

Filed under: Work

Venice Beach


Taken at the graffiti Pit, where I was working today on a still shoot (I don’t do very many of those) for a clothing line that I’ve never heard of.

Today was a good day to be at the beach – it was a gorgeous day, and winter at the beach is always way less crowded than summer.

It was warm, too, until the clouds rolled in right after lunch.

Venice Beach is always an adventure. A drunk guy threatened our art director (she just rolled her eyes at him), and a street vendor saw my walkie while I was walking to the coffee place, mistook me for an undercover police officer and followed me for a whole block while yelling “Narc! Narc!” at the top of his lungs. Production hadn’t gotten the proper permits for the graffiti pit, so until it got sorted out, the site rep literally chased us off the beach.

We also had no PA’s, so we had to take turns sitting with our staged equipment to make sure that it didn’t get stolen.

Still, it was a very fun day. This is a four day shoot (the last day is Sunday) that’s paying cash.

I LOVE cash.

I’m totally wiped out (couldn’t sleep last night), so I’m off to bed.

We’re in the Valley tomorrow, and we have an 8 am call.

Filed under: Photos, Work

Yeah, that was worth it.

When I’m not working, I’m always hesitant to spend money – I never know when I’ll work again, and I’ve spent too much when work was tight before and had to make the humiliating call to my parents for emergency funds.

So, yesterday, when I was in Best Buy looking at wireless internet cards for the new laptop (The Blonde dropped the old one, so she pitched in for a used IBM on eBay), I almost bought the cheap one.

However, the lure of the instant rebate made me spend the extra 20 bucks for the extra long range, high powered wireless card.

The result? I’m getting a wireless signal in my living room. I do not have a wireless network in my house – I think I’m picking it up from one of the office buildings nearby.

It can’t be someone’s home DSL – it’s way too fast, and despite the ‘very low’ signal strength, I’m surfing away just fine, thanks.

Sweeeeeet.

We’ll see how long it lasts.

I’m rigging for a TV show tonight. I get to spend the entire night changing fluorescent tubes in a warehouse in the valley.

I’m going to try to take a nap.

Pre work update: The signal is coming from the Los Angeles Unified School District. When using it, I can’t access Yahoo, messaging services, MySpace, or anything deemed unsuitable for schoolchildren.

Fine with me. I can use the computer in the back for that. Right now I’m playing internet radio over the smokin’ fast signal.

Hey, it’s almost 7 pm. The kiddies aren’t there. I promise I won’t eat up the free bandwidth during school hours.

Filed under: Non-Work

Random Link

The Steadicam Operator’s Manual of Style.

It reads like a textbook at first, but give it a chance – it’s really funny.

On a related note, I heart me some Firefox. The Adblocker plug in rocks.

Got ads on your site? I can’t see ‘em now!

Were I audio blogging, you could actually hear the maniacal laughter as I see the little x’s where the ads were.

I think this means I need to go outside for a while.

Filed under: Non-Work

Friday Photo

Perm Grafitti

Taken on Paramount’s Stage 30.

Soul Train was a fun job today.

Turns out, Soul Train doesn’t shoot once a week – they shoot two shows a day one weekend a month, so the Friday before a shoot weekend, riggers have to come in and put up the moving lights (which are an expensive rental, so they can’t just hang there while the stage isn’t being used. The lights that Paramount owns can stay there, because they’re not costing anything). The show will shoot Saturday and Sunday, and then that’ll be it until next month.

I won’t be on the shoot crew, though. I just came in with the crew that was hanging the moving lights.

I gotta tell ya, though; I’m impressed that those high-heel wearing girls can dance as well as they do on that flooring – it’s slicker than snot (so to speak).

Filed under: Photos, Work

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Flickr Photos

Halfway through a wrap day

Get something out of those jockey boxes, I dare you.

Electricity and water

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"If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better." -Anne Lamott

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