Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Gratuitous cute kitty photo

My cat makes me nuts sometimes.

I absolutely hate it when she sleeps on the DVD player. Besides the fact that I think it’s not very good for the DVD player, I’m afraid that she’s going to get some kind of strange disease from it – you know, like cell phone brain cancer except it would be DVD player cat ass rot.

I am once again without internets at home – a couple of months ago, the phone company offered to sign me up for online bill pay, which I canceled after not getting it to work.

So last month, I didn’t get a paper bill OR an online bill, and this morning they cut off my phone service.

I can’t go online and pay because they don’t have a username attached to my phone number, but I can’t register for a username because my phone number is in the data base as being attached to a username already.

Goddammit.

I can’t manage to get an actual human being on the line at the ‘service center’ so tomorrow I’m going to have to find where the office is so I can pay in person – I just have to dig through the recycle basket in the desperate hope that I can find an old bill to bring in.

And how was your day?

Filed under: Non-Work, Photos

Is there something in the air?

There seemed to be a rash of assholeism going around Los Angeles today, and it’s a shame because the day was absolutely stunning. It rained last night, and the winds have been blowing these amazing puffy clouds across the sky all day. When the winds blow from the direction of the ocean, the air becomes clear, the sky becomes blue, and the ambient light gets gorgeous – like the South of France, but with more plastic surgery and huge SUVs.

Stopped-down clouds

Flowers

So I went out on my bicycle with two cameras (one film, one digital) and took double pictures of everything all day, just to compare how they look and because I needed an excuse to enjoy the gorgeous day. Also, I needed an excuse to not clean my bathroom or do the laundry.

So on my way home, I decided to stop off at Target and pick up a few things that I’ve run out of (toothpaste, soap, shampoo, clean underwear).

At the Target in Hollywood, there are several of those ’10 items or fewer’ checkouts, and when more than one of them is open at the same time, generally the customers just form one line and wait for the next available clerk.

Right as it was my turn, a guy bearing a striking resemblance to Jabba the Hut in a polyester warm-up outfit shoved his cart in from the side, cutting in line. Since I was in such a good mood and he looked like he didn’t get out much and as such wasn’t aware of the informal register line policy, as I got up next to him I said in a tone I hoped was friendly, “Just for future reference, there’s one line for all these registers and everyone generally waits back there.”

He spun around, enraged. “It was your choice to stay back there. I don’t have to wait there. Where does it say that? WHERE? Where’s the user’s manual for the checkout lane? Huh?”

Wow.

Responses started flashing through my brain (“Aren’t you people supposed to be jolly?” “You can’t seriously need instructions to wait in a line.” “So, obnoxious asshole, huh? How’s that working out for you? ‘Cause this polite civilized thing I’ve been doing just doesn’t seem to be getting the job done anymore.”), but when someone’s that aggressive right out of the starting gate, sometimes it’s better to walk away.

Plus, he smelled – bad. Like a cross between fetid sweat socks and Indian food belches. The smell was so bad my eyes started to water and I actually had to take a step back as I gasped for air.

Now, when I’ve got the funk I know it. It rises up to my nose in, well, clouds, reminding me that I need to get to a shower and soon.

How could he not smell that? I think people in Seattle could smell that.

I think he took my blinking and gasping for air to mean that he’d bowled me over with his logic (or something), and he gave a self-satisfied smirk before waddling away towards the elevators, thankfully taking that godawful stench with him.

Once I got my sense of smell back, I went on my merry way and was heading to Amoeba for Money Mark’s in-store show, when a woman approached me and asked me where the nearest corporate drug store was. I told her (“why, it’s on Sunset, just a few blocks away”), only to have her give me a dirty look and say “The directory assistance says it’s on Cahuenga. Cahuenga!” Then, she tapped her cell phone for emphasis – just in case I wasn’t familiar with the concept of directory assistance.

You know, I just live here. It’s not like I’d know something like where the nearest drugstore is or anything, but hey – if you want to go way out of your way, then fine by me. Have a great day.

At least she didn’t smell bad.

Is there something in the air? Did the underpants gnomes suddenly branch out and start pissing in people’s cereal in the mornings?

Yeesh.

I’m still in a good mood, though. The pretty day has become a very nice night – even if it is cold.

Filed under: Non-Work, Photos, rants

Internets catch-up day!

So today, we’re on a stage and are in the same lighting set-up all day (some dude, talking about something I don’t care about while standing in front of a white cyc. We won’t have much to do until it’s time to wrap, and we’ll be here late because he keeps. blowing. his. fucking. lines.), and of course I had to bring my laptop to work (because I’m the best boy today and naturally I have to do all the invoice paperwork on the computer to make it all fancy and shit to impress… well, someone) so I can finally sit here, hiding behind the carts where the agency folks can’t see me, and catch up on all the blogs that I love to read but usually don’t have time for!

Yay!

UPDATE: I must have latched onto some cheese somewhere along the line because now I’m trapped in the stage and have gotten all gassy (it’s not fair. I love cheese. Why does it hate me? Why?). Luckily no one knows I’m the culprit since I’m hiding behind the carts.

On the good side, we’ve had about half an hour trimmed off our wrap time because the next show coming in wants to use our spacelights, so we’ll leave those hanging and just wrap the cable on the floor.

Filed under: Work

Big Photo Sunday!

I rode around Hollywood today, and shot some photos of the pre-Oscar carnage that is the closed streets, traffic snarls and police searches that make up awards show weekend in Hollywood.

The photos can be seen on the extra wonderful site LAist:

http://www.laist.com/archives/2007/02/25/preoscar_photo_essay.php

I’ve got to get to bed early. I have a 5 am call tomorrow.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Almost but not quite 24 hours

Yesterday, I was back on the comedian’s show – I had to get up at 4 am so I could get my stuff together and suck down enough caffeine to be coherent when I got to work at 5:30 for a 6 am call , as we didn’t have a rig day and had to run cable all the way around the day’s set before general crew call at 8 am.

I hate getting up when it’s still dark, especially when I know in advance it’s going to be a long day.

Production scheduled a 16 hour day – which kind of freaked me out. Normally 16 hour days are accidents, and I’m not sure I’ve ever known someone to actually schedule one.

Luckily, we were shooting in a high school gym all day so we didn’t get drenched in the pouring rain that hit right after lunch. We also stayed relatively warm inside – at about midnight, after the rain stopped, the temperature outside dove into the high 30’s (when the clouds clear out the temps go waaayyy down). When it was time to wrap out, we started working so hard and fast that I didn’t even notice being wet (from wrapping wet cable – mostly my pants below the knee) and cold until I sat down in the car to go home.

Supposedly they were going to call camera wrap at midnight, but things never do go according to plan, and after having the last shot of the night (a stunt! at nearly 1 am after a 16+ hour day! This is how people on sets get killed, kids) miraculously go off without a hitch, they called it at 1:15 Friday morning, and we still had to wrap several hundred feet of cable and pack our truck.

Due to all of us working like hell (and the DP and gaffer “dying small” which allowed us to start putting stuff away before they were done shooting), we shut the door of our truck at 2:30, and I got home at 3:00 Friday – 23 hours after I’d left to go to work the day before.

I didn’t even make it into the bedroom – I just collapsed on the couch wearing my dirty clothes and slept – albeit fitfully – until early afternoon.

I don’t remember much about the day yesterday, mainly because there was no coffee. That’s right – production decided that we could make do with the coffee from the catering truck (which was probably a few days old to begin with – I’m not sure how often they change the coffee tanks on those trucks), and when the caterer left, we were shit out of luck. Had I not snuck off to Coffee Bean for a latte at about 9 pm, I’d have never made it home.

UPDATE: I’m so tired I can’t sleep, and now, at about 8 pm, I’m hallucinating. I walked to a restaurant to have dinner (since when I’m this tired I’m not safe around anything in the kitchen), and on the walk home I kept seeing, out of the corner of my eye, a white dog following me. I kept spinning around whenever I thought I had seen it, only to see nothing there.

I hate it when this happens.

Filed under: Work

Mid-week mailbag!

By popular demand of the commenters, Sheila (www.getsheila.com ) wins the CD, mainly because she’s trapped doing other people’s taxes and is probably banging her head against the wall right now and hey, why not bang your head to the dulcet tones of Corey Feldman and his swingin’ orchestra? Sheila, email me (randomblogmail at yahoo dot com) your snail mail and I’ll send you the CD.

Anyways, I thought I’d take the time I have today (since I have to work tomorrow) to answer some questions that keep getting repeatedly asked in emails:

1. Peggy, I hate the new blog because I can’t comment anonymously anymore. The WordPress software wants my name and email and I don’t want to give it!

It would be just a tad hypocritical of me to disallow anonymous comments, wouldn’t it? Hmmm? Just ignore the ‘name’ and ‘email’ fields, type in your comment and it’ll show up after it’s approved. Trust me – why would I lie to you? I don’t even know you.

2. How come you don’t write about dating and your indie projects anymore? I want to read more about that.

Well, due to my having reached the conclusion that all men are complete jackasses (unless you’re reading the blog, and then you’re a prince among toads, baby), I haven’t been dating lately. Plus, I’m turning into an angry old crank, which may make for a great deal of fun at cocktail parties, but is generally not considered a desirable trait in Hollywood.

While there are two indie projects happening right now, they’re both in the writing stages, which is certainly nerve-wracking for me but doesn’t make very good blog reading.

I just sit at the computer, talk to myself, and bounce ideas off the cat:

Me: “I’m totally stuck. If Catherine’s outside waiting on the valet after her mani/pedi when Heathcliff pulls up in his BMW, it’ll totally blow the surprise of her finding out in act three after they have the hot grudge sex that he’s regained his fortune by opening Tae-Bo franchises all over the country and dealing cocaine to socialites on the side for the past five years.”

Cat:

Me: “You’re right, that’s completely preposterous. Heathcliff would never drive a German car”.

3. Peggy, I want to do what you do! How do I break in to the world of film production? How did you do it?

Honestly, I don’t know how I managed it. Luck and being in the right place at the right time, I guess. It’s a catch-22, since really low budget stuff doesn’t pay enough money to live on, but you can’t have another job and work 90 hour weeks on some movie. I really wish I had a good answer to this question, but unfortunately I don’t.

4. If you could do your life over again, would you still have this job?

I love my job and I’m always happy to go to work, but looking back, I don’t know if I’d do it again or not. Probably, but then again I might also choose a more financially stable line of work. You know, like scraping puke off of carnival rides or clubbing baby seals.

Nah. Even going back and knowing then what I know now, I’d still do it again. I’d just invest in better shoes a lot earlier on than I did this time around. I’m pretty sure that standing on set 17 hours a day while wearing Chuck Taylors is what fucked up my feet.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go ride my bike until I’m tired enough to fall asleep at 8 pm – I have to get up at 4  in the morning.

Filed under: Non-Work

President’s Day fun for freelancers!

It’s the W-2* (tax year 2006) contest!

W2s

How many do you have? I’ve got 25.

The person with the most will win a Corey Feldman CD** (if I can find it)!





* For those of you outside the US, a W-2 is a tax form that we get at the end of the year. We get one W-2 for each job we worked. Feel free to enter the number of whatever equivalent form you get.

** CD actually given to me by Corey Feldman.

Filed under: life in LA, Photos, Work

After 15 hours, the coffee stops working.

Friday, I was back on the comedian’s* show (shooting the sketches that air between the live bits, I guess. I don’t ask too many questions. I just show up and do what I’m told).

My call time was 6:30 am as I came in with first unit, who were shooting day exteriors with no lights, but had to have an electrician in case they had to run power from the putt-putt generator to the monitors.

The problem with my being the “just in case” electrician is that these particular producers get freaked when they see a crew member not doing anything even for a minute. The other day, my boss got a talking-to because I sat down and read three pages of the paper (which was all I got through since I was scrambling for power most of the day), so the first few hours of the day were spent doing the ‘duck and cover’ whenever I saw anyone from production (at one point, I was crouched near the bulkhead of the camera truck, behind the folded up pop-up tents, with the key grip’s jacket over my head because the producer was sitting on the lift gate making phone calls).

Once I figured out that I wouldn’t be needed on first unit since the DP was powering the monitors off of the camera batteries, I called my boss, who told me to go to the stage and rig since I could do more there than I could while covered with coats, crouching in the camera truck.

It took us forever to rig two chicken coops because we were on a stage that didn’t have any ‘perms’, so everything had to be rigged from a scissor lift – that means the lights had to be hung, and then the cable had to be run back to the corner (because we can’t have the cable hanging down into the set, can we?) where the power was – on a stage with perms, we’d just run it out and drop it down. Rigging from a lift means that the section of the cable which will be ‘in the air’ has to be pulled up into the lift (after estimating how much we’ll need to go from the first tie-off in the corner to the lamp in the center of the room), run over the hanging fluorescents (this means whoever’s in the lift has to pull the cable up and over each and every fixture, tie the cable off to the ceiling providing we can find a tie-off point that’s strong enough, move the lift, pull the cable up over the next fluorescent fixture, tie it off, etc…), and then connected to the lamps.

Meanwhile, the set dressers couldn’t do their job until we were done because of the giant scissor lift (which was the worst one on the lot – it would only turn left. One of the guys was calling it the NASCAR lift. The lot’s supposed to service those things, but they never do) in the middle of the set they had to dress.

Chicken Coop

We barely got done in time.

First unit got to the stage about 5 pm, and they shot two scenes which took until about 11 pm (that’s pretty fast, especially since one of the scenes was extremely complex and involved not one, but two stunts). My coffee-chugging and sugar-eating stopped keeping me awake at about 10 pm, so the last hour of the day was really tough. You can’t yawn on set – once you do, everyone else starts to yawn as well and then they get mad because no one wants to look like they’re tired.

Once they finally called wrap and we started moving around (because we had to wrap all the equipment that night), I got a second wind and felt much more awake.
It took us a little over an hour to wrap the stage, so we left about 12:15 and I got home about 12:30.

I spent Saturday with a mild case (I was only sick for about 12 hours) of the stomach flu that’s been going around town, but I’m feeling much better now.

Oh, and many thanks for the kind words – my uncle’s much better as well. He’s already able to talk (although not very clearly. The only word he’s really able to enunciate is “shit”. Yeah, I inherited that potty mouth of mine), and he’s getting some movement back already. The doctors think he’s got a reasonably good chance of getting 90% of the movement back on the affected side.

*This particular comedian (who shall remain nameless, please) has been accused by another comedian (who is extremely unfunny, IMO) of stealing material. If you ask me, which no one did, I think if you’re going to rip off someone else’s jokes you may as well pick someone who’s actually funny.

Hey, it worked for Dennis Leary.

Filed under: Work

She shoots, she misses!

After working all day on wraparounds* for a stand-up comedian’s TV show (where we didn’t have a real generator – just a 60 amp ‘putt-putt’ which wasn’t enough to run all the lights we had so my entire day was spent running around trying like crazy to find house power), I changed clothes in the car and went to the Hamburglar wrap party, where made sure that I found homeboy and said hello and in return I got….

Another platonic handshake.

You know, I’m usually really good at reading people, but I have to think that this time I might have been wrong. Either that, or I was right all along and I’m just really scary.

Either one works.

Somehow this doesn’t seem like much of a big deal right now – probably because my uncle had a stroke the night before last, and my sister told me while I was at work yesterday. I hate those phone calls.

It wasn’t a bad stroke, and he’s starting to get movement back on his left side already (although he still can’t talk), so he’ll be fine. I’ll have plenty of time to get bummed out about being shot down once he’s a little more stable.

So today, instead of taking my mind off things by riding my bike around enjoying the gorgeous day, I’m off to do laundry.

*Wraparounds are those little promo spots before and after commercials – you know, where the cast of a TV show makes the announcement that you’re watching a certain network, and then assures you that the network will still be there after the commercial break.

Filed under: Work

It never, ever fails.

Time and time again, this happens. You’d think I’d have learned something by now, but no.

The wrap party for Homicidal Hamburglar is tomorrow night, and I’d planned to go get my hair done so I’d look, well, not hot but at least not totally wrung out (damn those grey roots).

I begged and cried to get a hair appointment for tomorrow – my hairdresser doesn’t normally take appointments (you just have to show up and wait your damn turn), but I finally convinced him. Then, the phone rang.

So, of course, I’m working tomorrow. I had to cancel my hair appointment right after I’d made it. He’s not going to let me do that again.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about working. I need the money (and the qualifying hours for health insurance) way more than I need to have good hair for a party.

Please enjoy some photos:

cockroach cluster

craft service gurney

bloody mess

And here are two from the Dumb Fucking Ice Skating Movie (i.e. Blades of Glory) that I forgot to upload:

Very long drop

Truss

Filed under: Photos, Work

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