Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Doughnuts and sticker shock

My weekend started early. 7:15 Saturday morning, to be exact – which is when I had to be at the MRI place in Beverly Hills.

Perhaps I’ve just got the Simpsons movie on the brain, but an MRI machine looks a lot like a giant doughnut.

I’m serious.

It’s round with a hole in the center, and the patient lies on a stretcher which slides into the center of the doughnut. I didn’t go all the way in, so I sort of felt like a misplaced sprinkle.

We use MRI machines as set dressing sometimes, so although I’ve seen them before, I’ve never heard one before. An MRI makes a really loud buzzing noise that sounds like the airlock alarms in a bad 60′s sci-fi movie, and it keeps buzzing for most of the time that you’re in there. Good thing the tech gave me some earplugs – but if I ever have to have another MRI, I’m bringing a pair of those noise canceling headphones that are given out out on set when they’re using machine guns.

Also, after reading pages and pages of strongly worded warnings about removing all metal from my body to avoid dire yet unspecified consequences, I didn’t go far enough into the machine to even need to take off my pants (metal zipper) or bra (metal underwire).

Talk about anti-climactic.

After my MRI, my main mission of the day was to buy a new hairdryer.

When I was drying my hair Friday night, my hairdryer made an awful grinding noise and smoke came out of the back end. Luckily, I was able to put my years of experience with electrical power to work and quickly deduced that it was somehow fucked up and I would need to replace it. I figured this would take about 10 minutes – waltz into Target, pick out a hairdryer, then go home and watch the cat do battle with the packaging.

Wrong.

The problem is that I live in a building which was constructed in the early 1920′s – a time when folks didn’t have that many electrical things, so 100 amps of power for an entire 2 bedroom house was seen as more than enough.

Note: If you have a house that’s been built in the last 10 or 15 years, you probably have close to 100 amps of power just for your kitchen.

So when I stood in the hair dryer aisle at Target and perused the selection – every single hair dryer there was 1875 watts (or higher – one of them was 1900 watts).

That’s fucking insane. That’s almost two thousand watts*. That eats my entire bathroom circuit, especially if I want to, say, have a light on while I dry my hair.

So I tried the discount beauty emporium next door to Target, and was confronted with the exact same thing – nothing under 1875 watts. I asked the salesperson if she knew of anywhere to buy a lower-wattage hair dryer and she looked at me like I’d lost my mind. “Why? More is better, right?”

Not for me and my old, crappy wiring, it’s not.

After looking around for a couple of hours seeing nothing but dryers I couldn’t use, I finally found a 1200 watt model in a “premium” beauty supply store in nearby Larchmont Village – for the low, low price of 100 bucks.

That’s right – A fucking C-note for a hairdryer.

I must have looked shocked because the saleslady started into some pitch about some mineral in the dryer that would make my hair extra fabulous and then people would love me (or something), but what I was thinking about was that she really had me over a barrel.

I could spent four weeks looking for a dryer on Craig’s list and probably not find one under 1800 watts (which I’m to understand has been the norm for a while), or if I did I’d have to drive out to east bumfuck and wade my way through a sea of ravenous pit bulls only to find out that the owner didn’t read the wattage correctly and I couldn’t use the dryer anyway, or I could just suck it the fuck up and buy the one that was so expensive it was giving me hives just thinking about it.

Turns out, this particular beauty supply store has a 15 day return policy, so if I don’t like the dryer (or can find a cheap one somewhere else within that time frame), I can return it for a full refund.

Since I doubt I’m going to find one (although I’m looking), this thing better get my hair really fucking dry.

* The highest-wattage lamp that we use which can plug into a normal household plug is 2,000 watts. These lamps are notorious for popping breakers and blowing fuses when they’re plugged into the wall on locations.

Most household circuits are two thousand watts each – the exceptions being the bigger 3,000 watt circuits designed for the fridge and the clothes dryer. You can spot appliances that use more than 2,000 watts – they’ll have a funny-looking plug on them that won’t plug into a regular receptacle.

Filed under: life in LA, Non-Work, Off-Topic, rants, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Back in the land of the living, at last.

I know I’ve said it before, but pulling all-nighters just kills me.

They didn’t used to – I’d run around all day, work all night and then the next day I’d just drink a lot of coffee and stay up until early evening and then sleep for 12 hours. The next morning, I’d wake up bright eyed and bushy tailed.

Not so much anymore.

I worked Tuesday night and couldn’t sleep during the day due to too much noise from the construction next door. Also, I had a two hour drive to where we were working (a mothballed children’s prison in Whittier, which should only be a 20 minute drive if the traffic around here weren’t so bad), so I had to leave really early to make my 7 pm call.

The night went pretty well – thankfully my boss put me in one of the lifts hanging lights so I didn’t have to walk on a concrete floor all night. My knee thanks him.

My appointment with the doctor was at 9 am Wednesday, so I rushed out of work (so quickly that I forgot to take my walkie off and now have to get it back to the best boy over the weekend. The really funny part was when it started making dying battery beeps later in the day and I couldn’t figure out what the noise was and went batty in sleep-deprived slow-mo) just in time to hit the morning rush hour gridlock. I did, however, manage get back to LA in time to take a quick shower before seeing the doctor, which was good because I’m sure I didn’t smell too great after sweating all night.

Oh, and the orthopedist did exactly what I thought he was going to do. He took one look at the xray and ordered an MRI, which I’ll get Saturday morning at 7 am.

The rest of the day is kind of a blur. At some point I did go to sleep and when I woke up Thursday, I was still tired and fuzzy – so I went to see the Harry Potter movie, which probably would have been confusing to me even if I’d been 100 percent. Unlike Fellini movies, Harry Potter does not improve with sleep deprivation – but I suppose that’s what you get when you try to condense a 700 page book into a movie.

I’m feeling much better today, and may even attempt to do some thinking (or go see the Simpsons movie). The knee’s better too – I can walk normally now instead of gimping around, leaning on a cane.

Filed under: crack of dawn, life in LA, locations, long long drives, Non-Work, up all night, Work, , , , , , , , , ,

I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!

Thursday night was supposed to be a fun night – I was on a show that’s got a fantastic crew with whom I always have a great time. Plus, once they moved outside for the big night exterior, I was going up in the condor, which meant even if I couldn’t catch a nap I’d still be able to enjoy the cool breeze that blows 80 feet above the lot on summer nights.

But it didn’t work out like that.

I suppose at this point I should rewind about 10 years (or so).

One night (dark and stormy, of course) before I’d gotten into the union, after a 16 hour day on a low-budget nightmare, our truck broke down and we had to move all our equipment into a replacement truck after wrap but before we could go home (on locations camera, lighting and grip almost never get to go home at wrap – we have to shove all our crap back into our trucks and that can take a while).

The method for doing this is to back the trucks up so the rear ends face each other and the lift gates overlap (in the ‘up’ position about four feet off the ground), and just schlep the stuff from one truck to the other. If you put the trucks side-by-side and go up and down and up and down on the gates, it takes forever and your gates drain their batteries and die right before it’s time to load the really heavy stuff.

At some point during the transfer, I lost my footing on the wet lift gate and fell off the side. On the way down (or maybe when I fell on the surface of the parking lot) I seriously fucked up my left knee (as opposed to my right knee, which I only mildly fucked up) and spent the next couple of hours sitting on the ground, trying to keep from crying as my co-workers finished swapping trucks (I’d car pooled with my boss that day and had to sit there and wait. Not that I’d have been able to drive anyways – I had a stick shift at the time and my left knee wasn’t really working very well).

Production, of course, had sent the medic home at wrap as they didn’t want to keep paying him to sit around while those sweaty people worked.

The next day, I called in sick and went to a doctor who listened to the tale and took one look at my pitiful attempt to walk then started a workmen’s comp claim. He’d gotten to the point where he was ready to order MRIs and figure out exactly what was wrong, then the production company contested the claim (since heaven forbid they pay for an injury), and since I couldn’t afford health insurance, I couldn’t get it treated – I just iced it and stayed off of it for a couple of weeks, and then used a brace at work for a few months while I became better acquainted with over-the-counter painkillers.

After a while, it became normal – I just had a bad knee, and every so often it would act up and I’d have to stay home on the couch, with an ice pack and the remote control waiting for it to settle down. It’s amazing how quickly we learn to live with certain things.

Then, on Thursday night, the knee became incredibly painful – worse than it’s ever been before, and for the life of me I can’t remember doing anything to make it start. I didn’t fall, didn’t run up a bunch of steps, didn’t twist with my weight on it, didn’t kick anyone (hard). I just reported for work and it started hurting right before lunch.

Maybe my knee doesn’t like the commissary.

Lucky thing I went up in the condor because by that time I wasn’t sure if I could even finish out the night and getting off my feet for a few hours bought me some time (now would be a good time to mention that quite a few of us keep working when we’re injured, as we don’t want to be perceived as whiners or ‘high-maintenance’. Generally, the only time I’ll go home is if I’m vomiting so much that I can’t stand up).

It hurt even worse Friday, so I went to the doctor and he x-rayed it, became extremely agitated by said x-rays (he jabbed the image with his finger and said “What the hell is that?”) and then gave me a referral to go see an orthopedist.

My appointment’s Wednesday morning, and I’m going to strap a brace on the knee and try to work tomorrow night. I should be done by 7 am, and then it’s just a not-so-quick drive across town to the doc. Don’t bother telling me I’m nuts, I already know.

Hopefully I won’t have to climb any stairs.

Filed under: mishaps, studio lots, up all night, Work, , , , , , , , ,

Some things I’ve learned in the past few days:

Much like monkeys, zombies are just fucking hilarious.

Really disgusting looking disembodied arms can be purchased from Cinema Secrets for under $30 each.

It’s surprisingly difficult to make a small child cry.

Although I never would have guessed it, really good actors will respond to a casting call placed on Craig’s List.

Final Cut Pro will be the death of me. Should the filmmaker fairies pay me a visit anytime soon; right at the top of my list will be real editing software.

And though I already knew this, stage blood stains like hell – we shot on Sunday, and today I’m still lightly stained (although going to Trader Joes after the shoot was fun – I think I seriously traumatized at least six people).

Filed under: Uncategorized, , , , , , ,

Friday


I got home from work around 5 am, and managed to get about three hours of sleep this morning before the destruction crew came back in. I felt pretty good until about an hour ago. Now I feel like someone beat me with a tube sock full of quarters.

I was supposed to go to some thing at the W hotel tonight, but I’m just too damn tired (I’m also too damned tired to write much more than this) – I’ll be lucky if I manage to stay awake until 8 pm.

Filed under: Photos, up all night, Work, , , , , , , , , ,

There’s holes in them thar walls!

Somewhere along the line the people who own my building decided to replace all the plumbing.

Now, I don’t inherently object to this as in some parts of the house my water pressure is non-existent, but since the plumbers are knocking holes in the walls in order to access the pipes and are making some serious noise, of course I have to work tonight and with the destruction (right now they’re jackhammering up part of the patio) happening around me, there’s absolutely no way in hell I’m going to be able to take a nap before my 6 pm call time.

Dammit.

Holes in the walls

When I told the maintenance guy about my having to work tonight, he sort of stared at me for a moment and then asked “What are you going to do if you can’t take a nap?”

I’m just going to have to suck it up and consume as much caffeine as I can without actually having a heart attack, that’s what I’m going to do.

On the bright side, if society collapses any time soon, the ability to stay awake for a really long time will definitely be a major asset in a post-apocalyptic world. Also, the plumbers (there are four of them) are all in really good shape so there’s no half-moons going on.

Plumbing work

Filed under: Photos, up all night, Work, , , , , , ,

Photos and a question

First, the photos:

Really old cable.

Is it fiberglass or is it asbestos?

Now, the question:

This is really, really old cable. The cable we’ve used for, well, just about forever has rubber insulation, and this is clearly not rubber.

In a debate about what, exactly it was, half of Monday’s crew thought asbestos, and the other half thought some sort of fiberglass.

So, who’s right – or were we all wrong?

What the hell is this stuff and do I need to make a panicky call to my doctor because I got my face too close to it?

Filed under: Photos, studio lots, Work, , , , , , , , , ,

Friday Photo

The camera will be on the other side of the fence, of course.

Filed under: Photos, studio lots, Work, , , , , ,

Attention single ladies of Los Angeles!

Want to nab yourself a man in that coveted 18 to thirtysomething demographic?

Well, hurry on down to the Arclight in Hollywood where you’ll find a whole bunch of fine upstanding young gentlemen taking photos with the Transformers cars.

Self-portrait with

You’d better move quickly, though, ladies. Soon, the cars will go away and the guys will go back home and fire up the Xbox – and then who knows when they’ll leave the house again?

More Transformers photo ops

Get one while you can!

Filed under: dating, life in LA, Los Angeles, Non-Work, Photos, , , , , , ,

The socks didn’t work so well that time

I spent yesterday working on a music video (favor job) in a warehouse downtown where the temperature was at least 115 degrees (when I stepped outside into the comparatively cool 90 degree afternoon, my first thought was how nice it felt – normally, stepping outside when it’s 90 degrees makes me break into pitiful sobs).

Somehow, it never occurs to the people who scout these jobs that lights generate heat (“Oh, it was perfectly fine in here on the scout – I don’t know why it’s so hot now”) and when you fill the top floor of a warehouse with lights that generate heat and close all the windows, the room very quickly becomes the world’s biggest sauna.

I’d say it was lucky I was able to wear deodorant, but after a few hours, it really didn’t matter.

To top it all off – at the end of the day when I went to my car, someone had broken in and stolen my stereo – which wouldn’t have been that big a deal, but the stereo must have been difficult to remove, as they fucked up the entire dashboard in the process.

Turns out, on older cars with electric windows, it’s possible to just push the window down enough to reach in and unlock the door. Unbelievable.

So I guess that’s the answer to my initial question of why they’d choose to break into my car when there was a $60,000 Audi parked right behind it.

Bet you can’t just push the fucking window down on that car.

Happy 4th of July, everyone.

Filed under: locations, Work, , , , , , , , , ,

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