July 22, 2014 • 9:02 pm 1
There aren’t a whole lot of options available, if one needs to shoot in a jail. For obvious reasons, shooting in a working prison can be.. problematic, so we’re restricted to closed jails, which, in Los Angeles, means either Sybil Brand or Lincoln Heights, depending on if one wants ‘old timey‘ jail or modern jail.
For the past few days, we’ve needed modern jail, so we’ve been at Sybil Brand.
What freaks me out so much about Sybil Brand is the complete lack of anything plastic. Due to what I can only assume was budget, the prison wasn’t updated at all before it closed, so it’s a treasure trove of silly looking stuff that was the cutting edge in 1963:
And now it’s all in limbo, pending a review of how best to spend the taxpayers’ money – renovate or rebuild?
Until then, it’ll stay a shooting location and dog training center:
July 8, 2014 • 9:51 pm 2
Back in the days when the film industry was young and innocent, someone clever noticed that real snow, when brought onto a set with really hot lights, immediately melted.
The solution was to pile up a shitload of soap flakes or white-painted cornflakes (no, really), but those had… issues. Bugs and rats love cereal flakes and when humans are exposed to soap flakes for long periods of time the line for the toilet starts to get very long – not to mention the mess when it rains.
Then, someone very, very, clever devised a solution. A substance called Phoamaide or Foamite, very similar to the stuff in fire extinguishers, mixed with asbestos or those trusty soap flakes.
This is what we used for years – well, except the asbestos. I think they stopped using that last year*.
Then, someone came up with the brilliant idea to use small flakes of plastic. It won’t melt, it glitters just like real snow and it wafts gently to earth just like those nice big perfect flakes you want to see on Christmas morning unless you have to drive.
Also, it can be quickly vacuumed up (and reused) and won’t attract vermin or give your expensive actor a weapons-grade case of the shits.
The plastic is still used in cases where the snow needs to fall from the sky.
But if the snow is just sitting on the ground productions usually use a combination of paper snow, blankets, and foam (keep it away from animals and foliage). It doesn’t fall nicely, but it won’t kill fish if it washes into the watershed (okay, maybe the foam will make them sick but they’ll get better), so there’s a satisfying lack of guilt.
But the paper stuff is extremely dusty, and creates a haze in the air which even the manufacturers warn not to breathe.
It doesn’t bother me when we’re outside (unless it gets wet and I walk through it. Then it has to be chiseled off the bottom of shoes and good luck getting it out of the car), but as soon as I get on a closed stage with it, its non-stop misery.
My eyes itch, my nose stops up, my head hurts, my throat burns and I start to cough like a tubercular Victorian poet.
And that’s just with the stuff lying on the ground minding its own business.
This particular show is using effects fans to blow the flakes into the air, creating even more dust. They’re also spraying the shit out the “realistic” plastic ivy with foam, but I suspect that’s the least of my worries.
Today is day two of the episode and I already feel like crap – the last day of the show is Monday, so I have four more days of this to endure.
*I’m joking. I think they stopped using the asbestos in the late 1980s.
June 11, 2014 • 8:13 pm 3
It’s been a very long time since I fell asleep at the wheel while driving home.
The first time, it was after a 16+ hour overnight in the high desert and I dozed off while stuck in rush hour gridlock. I woke up when my face hit the steering wheel, but luckily my foot never came off the brake.
There have been a few more times over the years – mostly just weaving on the road and having to roll down the windows or stomp the floor of the car with my left foot.
It just became a thing. Night work meant a fun drive home trying to out-weave the drunks, but I never felt concerned (if I should have is another post).
But I was really frightened Saturday morning when I dozed off while travelling southbound on the 405 at approximately 80 mph.
Luckily, I just weaved in my lane and then stomped the hell out of the floor of my car and made it home.
Wait.. let me back up.
This time of year work is thin, so when I got a call to work Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I said yes before I asked any questions.
It was only after I was booked that the best boy told me it would be all nights on the other side of town.
Nights bother me a lot more now than they did when I was younger – I have a much harder time adjusting, and if I’m flipping between days and nights it’s even worse.
It would have been bad form for me to say ‘no’ after accepting the job, even with the construction in the unit above me (they say they’re remodeling it, but really I just think they’re chopping holes in the walls, patching them and cutting them out again just for practice), so I was stuck.
Lucky for me I was with a wonderful bunch of guys that I really like a lot – but that construction starts up at 7 am and I can’t sleep later, even with earplugs and a white noise machine, so even with the interim days off I spent an entire week on so little sleep I think it might have qualified as cruel and unusual.
As an added bonus, Friday’s pre-call ‘breakfast’ of a seemingly harmless turkey burger resulted in a three-day bout with rotavirus.
I got picked up for this week as well, which is great, but it’s been 7 am call times all week. Between the sleep loss and the power cleanse today was the first day I’ve felt even vaguely human.
Tomorrow, our call time is 6 am in west bumfuck, so I will have to get out of bed at 4:30. AM.
We have 9 pages to shoot, but it’s all day exterior and we don’t have enough lamps to make daylight*, so it can’t go all that late.
Since I didn’t post anything last week, please enjoy an apology photo of uplit trees and a condor with someone besides me in the basket:
*It is possible to shoot day exterior at night, but you need a lot of equipment. Like a 48 foot trailer full of HMIs. Then, when the sun goes down, we unload the truck and curse our poor life decisions.
May 16, 2014 • 8:00 pm 0
Most of the time when we unload our truck at the end of a show, we’re not missing much. On the whole, we’re really diligent about counting and re-counting.
But there’s something about stingers.
Everyone wants them, everyone takes them, uses them, drops them when they’re done and then fails to tell us where.
So at the end of a show we’re almost always missing a few. It drives best boys mad, but it’s just the way it goes.
Except today, when we unloaded the “truck” (so small that it took two of us 15 minutes to empty and the rental house guys less than an hour to count), and laid out all the stingers, we weren’t missing any.
Everyone was shocked.
Not literally, of course, but I can’t remember the last time the stinger count matched the paperwork.
March 10, 2014 • 7:47 pm 0
I need my hands to do my job. So one would imagine I’d be extra careful, but still it’s the body part I manage to mash and smash more than any other.
After waiting a week to get in the ocean after Los Angeles’ torrential skywater catastrophe, some friends and I decided to go for a swim. Our usual spot in Santa Monica wasn’t an option as it was parking for the LA Marathon – and near the street closures – so we went a bit south to Venice beach, thinking that we’d have an easier time with traffic and parking.
Which worked out very well. Plenty of parking, light traffic for those who drove (I rode my bike as I had to traverse the most congested part of Santa Monica to get to the beach).
And then we approached the water, and came face to face with 6 foot waves.
I’m not particularly fearful of the ocean once I get past the surf (if something gets me, it gets me. C’est la vie), but I get a little nervous in surf much higher than my head.
Okay, that’s an understatement. Any waves bigger than about three feet and I’m a panicky idiot who needs supervision to ensure I won’t do anything stupid.
Needless to say, I didn’t get past the surf, and the one swimmer who did had to come back because it took so long to get my heart rate down from ‘coked out hummingbird’ that we ran out of time.
I would have hung my head in shame, but my neck was too sore from getting tossed in the surf.
So, with my proverbial tail between my legs, I slunk off to breakfast and then decided, last-minute, to try to get some sort of workout in and make a yoga class at the gym.
As I was rushing out of the house and using my foot to keep the cat from running outside, I pulled the door shut and didn’t move my finger quite quickly enough.
So it got slammed in the door.
If you’ve never done this, I can assure you it’s excruciatingly painful.
After screaming a few choice words, I looked at said finger and saw the nail turning black.
I’m told that’s bad. There are numerous tutorials on the internet to deal with this in the comfort of your home, but since I am lucky enough to still have insurance, I can go have a doctor do that for me, for only the cost of a very pricey night out.
So instead of going to a yoga class, I went to urgent care.
Where the very nice doctor numbed up my finger (FOUR shots in the nerves) and drilled a hole through the nail to let the blood out.
If you’ve never had a doctor drill (actually, it’s a burn. They BURN a hole though the nail. The smell is… unfortunate. I may never eat again) into your nail, I can assure you it’s really gross and also – take the ‘digital block‘ option. You do NOT want the doctor burning through your fingernail with no pain meds. Trust me.
So now I have a hole in my fingernail. Surprisingly, it’s not that painful. It’s just gross, as we’re over 24 hours on and it’s still bleeding.
Although I think the post-burning photo of the fingernail gushing blood is funny, I’ll be nice and post a photo taken today – the grossest thing about it now is how badly I need a manicure.
Right now, it’s a pathetic excuse for pilot season here in Los Angeles, so although it’s busy, a day off isn’t a bad thing.
I’ll make work calls tomorrow.