Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Boo! It’s Friday Photo!

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Happy Halloween!

I’ll be at work tonight so I won’t have to worry about giving out candy, which is good since I didn’t buy any.

Filed under: Non-Work, Photos, , , , , , ,

It’s beginning to look a lot like I’m not sure what.

Normally, fall is a very busy time of year – production cranks up and I bounce around between TV shows and movies and while I’m tired, it’s all good as I’m on a mission to bank cash for the lean months that follow the holidays.

Except this year. This year, it’s dead when it should be busy. Since no one knows if SAG are going to strike or not, nothing is starting up right now out of fear of being shut down. There are no movies shooting right now, and many of the TV shows are going down early and taking extended breaks.

Of course, the producers are saying SAG are unreasonable, and SAG are saying the producers won’t talk.

Guess who I believe?

Tomorrow, a federal mediator comes out to try to salvage… something, but no one I know has much hope.

In the interest of not having a poverty-line Christmas this year, I’d like to offer my mediation services.

Bring me the SAG reps and the person who’s ‘negotiating’ for the producers and lock us in a room. No sleepy time, no bathroom breaks, no food.

Also, I’ll need the following items:

Three rolls of duct tape.

Two sets of those unbreakable golf clubs (with extra drivers).

One police-issue taser.

An unlimited supply of air cartridges.

One box of cookies (no, they’re not for me. Bad thoughts = pain. Good thoughts = cookie. Even producers need occasional positive reinforcement).

Using my patented method*,  I will guarantee a contract agreement in 48 hours.

Of course, I suppose I’ll also need immunity from prosecution and/or two suitcases full of hundreds and a fake passport.

You know where to find me if that federal mediator dude doesn’t work out.

*violates Geneva Conventions

Filed under: Uncategorized, , , , ,

Thursday Photo

The entire time we were shooting in and around the circus tent, I kept reminding myself to be extra careful around the big metal stakes that were driven into the ground to hold up the tents:

Tent spike

I did really well until the last moment of the last night.

Right as we were getting ready to load our carts on the truck, a couple of us walked around the tents to do an ‘idiot check’ to make sure we hadn’t left anything behind and as I scanned the random bits of stuff  to make sure that none of it  was ours I walked right into a tent stake.

I’ve got a scrape surrounded by a green bruise on my shin – it looks like a moldy jelly donut.

Normally I don’t worry about the cuts and bruises that I get on my arms and legs, but this one’s huge and looks terrible, so even though it’s really hot today I don’t think I’m going to be wearing shorts.

Filed under: Photos, Work, , , , , ,

The one that got away

Partway through day two in the tent, a co-worker got on the walkie with a very important announcement:

“Oh, my God, a clown just dropped his pants.”

I’d been huddled in a corner with my head down, trying to find a bit of air that wasn’t full of dust, but when I looked up, there it was:

One of the clowns with his pants around his ankles and his polka dot boxer shorts swaying in the breeze.

I guess he just felt the need to air it out.

I normally have my camera in a pouch on my tool belt, but when it gets really hot said tool belt gives me an awful case of the flop sweat (we’re taking Niagara Falls here) so Friday I left it in my bag and just jammed my gloves in my pockets.

So when I saw clown undies, I dove for my bag, desperately scrabbling for the camera so I could have evidence that once in my life I had seen a pantless clown and lived to tell about it.

I found the camera, turned it on and raised it up to frame a shot – just after the clown pulled his pants up.

Damn, damn, damn.

Note to self: Next time, staple camera to face so I don’t miss any more shots like this.

In a way, Southern California’s fire season has worked in the crew’s favor – we were supposed to shoot the dusty location four days straight, but since we had a fire delay we have the weekend to recover before doing two more days in the tent.

I took advantage of the two days off and sat in the steam room at the gym for an hour yesterday and an hour today.

I’m still coughing, but I don’t taste dust any longer, so I’m calling it a victory.

Filed under: Work, , , , , ,

The abominable dusty everything.

Today’s set was a big tent in one of LA’s nature areas – and by ‘nature area’ I mean a big dirt lot adjacent to a man-made lake in the Valley.

The dirt floor of the tent was covered with a layer of sawdust, which must have seemed like a great idea at the time – until the couple of hundred extras and circus performers started tromping around and then it hit.

The dust cloud.

After a couple of hours, it was like a foggy morning in San Francisco in there, and the camera assistants were going through what I imagine was a week’s worth of canned air by blowing off the cameras every few minutes in an attempt to keep them dust free enough to work.

Everything was coated with dust – even though I was wearing one of those paper masks, I still tasted dust and felt grit between my teeth. Although it was hot, I probably didn’t drink enough water because that would have meant taking the mask away from my face, which would have meant ingesting extra dirt.

After lunch, there was some attempt to control the dust by sending two guys around to spray the floor with water from those 2 gallon portable garden misters, but that did nothing to help.

Even after having had the world’s longest shower, I still taste it. I think my lungs are now coated with dust.

At least I had a mask, though. Our actress not only had to navigate the dirt floor in spike heels, but wasn’t able to wear a dust mask because of her makeup. By the end of the day she was really starting to cough.

And in case you were wondering, 100+ extras can really do some damage to the portable toilets. I went in there to pee and wash my hands before driving home and every single stall looked like a natural disaster.

I’m going to brush my teeth for the fourth time and go to bed.

Filed under: Work, , , , ,

Why do they ask me to repeat myself when I tell them it hurts to talk?

At work Friday night, I started to feel not so great – tickle in the throat, stuffy nose, etc.

I chalked it up to either standing all day in a stage that was air conditioned to ‘arctic tundra’ or the seasonal temperature changes around here (100 degrees one day, 65 the next. Ah, fall in Southern California).

Nope. Turns out, I was actually sick. Over the weekend.

If that’s not illegal, it should be. The winds blew all the atmospheric crap out of the sky and as the city sparkled in the clear air, I lay on the couch wheezing and failing to muster up the energy to wash my hair or find the remote so I wouldn’t have to watch golf.

That, and the corner store was sold out of the nice super-soft tissues that are coated with some sort of (probably) unholy goo but don’t rub your skin raw, so I had to get the not-so-nice tissues that felt like they were coated with bits of sawdust. Or broken glass. After a few hours, the skin around my nose was a thing of the past.

I must have been the very picture of loveliness itself. No wonder even the cat wouldn’t come near me.

I took some comfort in knowing that a large portion of Los Angeles was also sick over the weekend, and starting Sunday afternoon, an even larger portion of Los Angeles was coated in ash from the numerous fires burning.

Misery loves company, after all.

Today I ventured out mainly in search of groceries, but I also went to the gym and sat in the sauna for an hour or so in an attempt to ‘sweat it out’.  I’m not sure if it was a successful attempt, because  although I feel much better now, I sound terrible. Think about that stage right before the laryngitis really kicks in.

Everyone who’s talked to me on the phone this afternoon has been alarmed and of course have not believed my assertions about feeling pretty good.

Everyone who’s seen me in person today has actually winced and have also not believed my statements about feeling fine.

But it’s true. I still can’t breathe out of my nose, I sound like death itself and I’m coughing up bucketloads of something that should be featured prominently in a horror movie, but I feel good.

Or maybe I just felt so terrible over the weekend that I only feel comparatively good and I just can’t tell the difference.

Nope. I feel fine. Objectively fine.

Which is good, since I have to work tomorrow.

Filed under: Non-Work, , , , , , ,

Idle hands are some dude’s workshop.

In addition to an uncertain economy and a more annoying than usual election season, those of us in movie world have to worry about a potential actor’s strike. Projects which should be starting up right about now are on hold pending resolution of the SAG contract dispute, and what should be a very busy time of year is slow, so I’ve had the misfortune to see a lot more of the news than usual.  Also, it’s too hot to do anything other than sit on the couch in front of a fan.

Special note to media: Maybe investors wouldn’t panic if you’d stop scaring the hell out of them every three seconds.

Just something to think about.

While I can’t do anything about a SAG strike, heat, runaway production, bailouts, recessions, guys with douche bag hair or credit freezes, I have a proposal which will make many of us (okay, maybe just me) feel much, much better about the state of things.

Let’s get a couple of tanker trucks full of tar, a shitload of feathers and head for Wall Street. It would at least give the illusion that someone, somewhere got what was coming to them.

If we have any tar left over we can make a stop in Washington, too.

It’ll be fun!

Filed under: Uncategorized, , , , ,

Friday Photo

Poor man's process

Normally, scenes which feature actors in a moving car are shot using a process trailer. The advantage of using a process trailer is that since the car containing the actors is being towed around the city, the shots look, well, real.

Sometimes, though, process trailers are impractical – either the show can’t afford them, the show isn’t shot in the city in which it takes place or there simply isn’t enough work in the car scene to justify the hassle (get trailer, rig trailer with lights, drive around, de-rig trailer. It eats the better part of a day, and requires extra equipment and manpower, so it’s not worth it for one short scene), so then we do what’s called a poor man’s process.

Poor man’s process is when the car sits stationary on a stage and we use lighting to create the illusion that it’s moving.  In this photo, we’re using a projection screen behind the car which really helps to sell it on film, but many people skip this step. There are lights placed around the car, and each light’s got a crew member (usually a grip, but since this process is labor intensive, the electricians help out, too) with it waving a solid flag in front of it periodically in order to mimic the shadows that fall across a car as it moves through traffic.

When done properly, it’s damn near impossible for the viewer to tell the difference.

Here’s a really excellent video showing (and doing a better job of explaining) a poor man’s process.

Filed under: Photos, Work, , , , , , ,

A short, hot day.

It’s time for the annual “fall” heatwave.

Over the past couple of days, the heat has blasted across the city like a cartoon supervillain bent on destroying life as we know it here in Los Angeles. Even the breeze is hot, and stepping out the door of the house feels exactly like it does when one opens an oven door to check on whatever’s baking in there.

So although I normally don’t like to work super long days, I was really hoping that we’d get at least 13 hours yesterday- with a 7 am call, that would have put us out at 9 pm (the one hour break for lunch doesn’t count) – hopefully after it had cooled off slightly, but instead we got the fastest director west of the Mississippi who shot six and a half pages in nine and a half hours (that’s really, really fast. Six and a half pages normally takes much closer to 12 hours).

Fucker.

Don’t get me wrong, I normally really like this director, but I swore under my breath when they called wrap and the heat poured in through the newly opened stage doors.

I went to the gym after work and swam, but when I got home well after dark it was still hot.

According to the news, the heat should break by the end of the week.

I really hope they’re right.

Filed under: Work, , , , , ,

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