It’s been a busy couple of days, and what I’ve really learned is that when I ask for things, I need to be more specific.
On Thursday, the shit hit the fan (so to speak) and we actually did get fired – because of something that happened in another department (ye gods, how I love the film industry).
Here’s how it went down:
We did as much of the rig as we could on Wednesday, because of the party. First unit’s call time in the morning was 10 am, with the balloon tech* and set lighting on a one hour pre-call.
Rigging’s call was 6 am, so we got there, found our driver, moved the carts over from the stage to the theater and then started to complete the rig (normally, you’d flip that – complete the rig first, and then move the carts, but we were going to lose the drivers because they had to move the trailers which is something they should have been able to do the night before, but there was that party) – until the guys who’d come in with the projection screens (they had a big banquet scene with giant screens all around the set) discovered that whomever had set up their stuff the night before had put the screens in the wrong place and they couldn’t get a sharp focus, so the screens had to move because the projectors couldn’t. Which meant the stage had to move, which meant the tables (all of which had a lamp on them which had to be powered) had to move – again.
Unexpected obstacles are the nature of the business, but we had so much to do that we would just barely have had enough time to get everything done even if nothing had gone wrong (we’d asked to come in at 4:30 or 5 am, but the production office said no). So, when the stage and tables moved (the first time – they ended up moving twice. Each time, set dressing had to strip off the place settings and then reset them, and we had to move all our lights from around the stage and re-wire the tables) we knew we weren’t going to be ready.
Rigging crews have nightmares about still being on set working when first unit walks on. A great deal of the appeal of working on a rigging crew is that one avoids the chaos, panic and gratuitous random blaming (“we were fine until those bozos got in our way”) that shooting crews sometimes fall into – when one is rigging, the goal is not only to never be seen, but never have the higher ups even notice your work**.
Then, the balloon tech came in half an hour late – the victim of a traffic jam caused by a horrible accident on the freeway – also stuck in the same traffic snarl were the director and our main actor.
So there was no way in hell they were going to start on time, but the Director of Photography, standing on set surveying the chaos at 10 am, chose to blame the rigging crew for the delay.
The first unit best boy pulled our boss aside around 11 am and said “Hey, DP thinks you guys caused the delay, and I’m hearing he wants you all fired. I’m going to sit him down at lunch and try to explain to him what happened.”
Yeah, good luck with that. There are some “shooters” out there who have a really solid understanding of what it takes to get all that stuff set up and the potential for delay, but trust me, this guy’s not one of them.
At our lunch break (which was the first time all day we’d been able to sit down), our boss said it best: “It doesn’t matter what anyone says. If the DP wants us gone, then nothing can save us.”
We all sat for a moment and looked at each other before simultaneously pulling out our phones and dialing – just as our boss got the official word. Note to production: never, ever fire a crew at lunch. We all could have just as easily walked away and told you to go rig your own fucking set – but we didn’t, because that would have been a) unprofessional, and b) would have made the gaffer look bad.
After I’d made a few calls, I ran into our Paramount lot best boy***, and told him the story. “Can you help a sister out?” I asked.
“Lemme see who’s picking up for tomorrow.”
In 10 minutes he had me on the phone with the best boy of another show. “Sure, I’ve got a second unit slot for tomorrow. You want it?” he asked.
Does a bear shit in the woods? Of course I wanted it. My thanks to all of you from the bottom of my black little heart for another day’s employment.
A few minutes after that I got another call (Paramount’s a small lot – word travels fast) “Hey, heard you guys got fired. Sorry to hear it, but I’ve got some days next week for you. Call me Monday.”
The fact of the matter is that with below the line crew, firings are completely meaningless. We had all gotten work (and on better-paying shows, I might add) by the end of the day, and to be brutally honest I’m more than a little bit glad to be walking away from that cluster fuck. The only thing I’m going to miss are the crew, who are all terrific folks and with whom I’ve had a lot of fun.
Oh, well. Color me itinerant. I’ll see ‘em all on another show and we’ll have a good laugh.
I’d wanted some overtime, and boy did I get it.
Call time Friday was 6:30 am, wrap time was 10:30 pm. As my feet started to hurt and my reaction times got longer and longer with fatigue, I just kept chanting “double time baby, double time”.
Mama needs a new car soon.
Which brings us to Friday (hey, it was taken on Friday, but after a 16 hour day I’m not coming home and sitting in front of the computer) Photo:
Can you spot the paparazzo?
More importantly, since I’ve never seen the show, is there anyone on Nip/Tuck who warrants being followed to the bowels of North Hollywood by a stalker photographer?
Just for the record, the guy seemed okay. He stayed hidden, and when a co-worker and I finally spotted him (I have no idea how long he was there) and waved, he waved back. When one of the ADs politely asked him to pack up and move on, he did so graciously.
*Note – the link to Airstar is intended for illustrative purposes only.
**Yeah, yeah. I know that just seems wrong, but it’s true. If a producer or an executive notices me, then I’ve somehow fucked up.
***When you work on a studio lot, your show has two best boys. One best boy for the show, who handles manpower, scheduling and the like, and the lot best boy, who deals with equipment.
Couch of the Day:
From Frances Danger, who also just got fired, but who will also soon have a much better job (I’m sure of it):
Filed under: couches, Photos, Work