Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Friday Photo

Dimmer board mood lighting:

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

Friday Photo

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Prop guns in between takes.

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

Knees, don’t fail me now

During the rare but not unheard of Sunday rigging call, we were in a very expensive boutique hotel on the Sunset Strip, which, given the only reason the hoi polloi shell out to stay there are hopes of catching a glance of a movie star, is surprisingly hostile to film crews.

We weren’t allowed to be in the hotel before 4 pm, which really sucked since the shooting unit had a 5 pm call and since there was no way we were going to get all the cable run in an hour, our boss begged or bribed or something and got us in early – on the condition that we be very, very quiet. Which, when one is rigging, is harder than one imagines.

I suppose it’s possible to gently set down a 100 lb. (45 kilo) coil of cable, but my back just wants me to drop it.

The other thing that slowed us down was the stairs. Oh, the stairs.

This particular hotel was built during an era when handicapped people were fucked (so why even let them out of the house), and therefore has no ramps. Anywhere.

The area we were rigging wasn’t accessible  any other way than stairs, which meant that cable carts were useless – we could get them about halfway to the set, and then had to pick everything up and walk it the rest of the way.

Actually, it was two sets of stairs.

This one:

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And this beauty:

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That second set is so narrow two people can’t pass on it, so the person with the lighter load yields. Unless it’s a guest, and then one squeezes to the side and waits, like Atlas, while cursing the universe.

Lucky for us the rig wasn’t that big and it wasn’t too hot – also I was working with a fantastic group of guys that make any situation fun, so it was a good day, even though at the end I would have handed back my entire day’s pay just to sully the hotel’s lovely pool with my dirty blue-collar cooties.

It was only a one-night shoot, so we were back this morning to wrap everything. Upon arriving, we were informed that the shoot had gone past the scheduled out time (shocked. I am shocked, I tell you) and the hotel management were a wee bit cross (something about the location manager’s head and a pike, but I didn’t get details), so we needed to double time it to get out of there.

As we started to gather equipment, it became apparent that, at some point during the wee hours, the hotel management mistook the shooting crew for cats and turned on the sprinklers in the hope that it would make them run away.

If only that worked.

Thirty minutes into the day we were soaking wet and smeared with dirt, and I guess my appearance was scary enough that when I greeted a guest with a cheery ‘Good Morning’ her response was a hissed suggestion that I go fuck myself.

If only I could. I’d never leave the house.

After carrying everything back down the stairs, we loaded the truck and rigged our second location – a theater with ramps. Lots and lots of ramps.

Of course it has stairs, too, but we didn’t have to deal with them.

I love you, cable carts. I’ll never take you for granted ever again.

Tomorrow, we wrap the theater and then unload the truck at the rental house.

 

 

 

 

 

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

Stunts ahoy!

Stunt days are usually slow for us. We light the shot, and then read the newspaper while the stunt guys do… stunt stuff.

Especially in light of recent train track events, stunt people are very resistant to being rushed. The set up takes as long as it takes, and if you don’t like it feel free to stroll over to crafty and help yourself to a big cup of shut the fuck up.

So most of yesterday was sitting and waiting for the stunts to get set up.

To these particular stunt guys credit, they moved pretty fast, but we still had a 14 hour day.

Which was fine with me, since it’s going to be completely dead in about a week.
Our last shot was inside a hallway of an empty building in an office park. It was another stunt, so we were in there well past dark.

When we stepped outside, we heard this:

Night music from Peggy Archer on Vimeo.

Frogs. Such a strange thing to hear in drought stricken Southern California. Not at all unpleasant, mind you, just odd.

Call time: 7 am.

Wrap time: 10 pm.

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

I haven’t spent an entire day lifting cable in some time.

This is both a good thing and a bad thing.

It’s good because, well, I haven’t had to lift cable in quite some time, and bad because the only thing that gets one fit for lifting cable is lifting cable. Last I checked, they don’t have a 4/0 machine at the gym.

I got a call from the union hall (haven’t had one of those for a while) to wrap a location yesterday at one of our local sports arenas. Arenas are great because they have nice wide ramps and large freight elevators, but bad because most rigging gaffers feel the need to run cable all the way around said arena.

As most arenas are not small,  that’s a lot of cable.

I don’t have any problems pulling (rolling the stretched out cable into a coil – it’s called pulling because one straddles the cable and pulls it into a coil while it’s flat on the ground) cable. I can use the overdeveloped swimmer’s muscles on my back all damn day – plus it increases my sprint speed in the pool, so everybody wins.

What hurts me is lifting the cable – and moving cable from one place to the other is just about the same as it’s always been.

One picks up the 100+ lb coil of cable. One deposits said coil onto some sort of wheeled contraption. Then, one wheels the cable to the truck and lifts it again.

Coil, lift, drop. Coil, lift, drop. Coil, lift, drop. Lunch (light, unless you want to puke while you’re lifting), then repeat.

We were very, very lucky that the temperature stayed relatively low at 78 degrees, so the heat wasn’t the factor that it will be later in the year.

After we finished loading the truck, the best boy asked me if I wanted to unload the truck at the lot today.

I was sore, but work is work – and these are really nice guys that I’d love to call me back again, so of course I said yes.

The sequence for unloading the truck is just about the same for loading it, but without the coiling part.

Lift, drop, count, lift. Lift, drop, count, lift. Lift, drop, count, lift. Lunch (light, unless you want to puke while you’re lifting),  repeat.

Someday I’m going to produce a ‘Get Fit With Cable’ exercise video and make a mint.

Or not. The shipping costs would kill any profit margin.

Since I haven’t been doing many cable lifts lately, I started to hurt a little bit before lunch on Thursday, and really, really started to hurt before lunch today.

Right after lunch, we found out we had to rig two sets, which was a bit of a relief as it would allow me to use different muscles for a couple of hours.

By the time we were dismissed, I was filthy, smelly and sore. I briefly considered going to the Korean spa and soaking myself in the hot tub, but settled for  take-out (I am so not cooking tonight) and got the side-eye from just about everyone in the place.

Fuck them. I’m eating dinner after enjoying a very hot shower and a smearing of the biceps with ointment.

Filed under: crack of dawn, locations, long long drives, studio lots, Work, , , , , , , ,

A rare opportunity makes me silly happy

I almost never get to ride my bike to work.

Usually, I’m working in either some far-flung place or too many hours to brave a bike commute home when the drivers start getting drunk.

So yesterday, when I had a 9 am call for what was predicted to be an eight-hour day at a lot 3 miles from my apartment, I gleefully loaded up the bike bags with my work gear and headed out.

I giggled as I sailed past the traffic on the more than usually clogged up Santa Monica Blvd, and then glided through the full-to-the-brim parking lot (valet on the dungeon level and good luck finding your keys), then dismounted right in front of the catering truck. One egg white omelette (with a side of bacon) later and I rode over to the stage.

Sweet.

I did take the precaution of locking my bike, as I don’t want to lose my commuter to one of the lot bike “borrowers”.

We worked about 6 hours, had a very good time with super nice people, and then I rode home while it was still light – and even managed to make a stop at the pet store to get the cat’s ridiculously expensive (but she’s worth it) food.

I wish I could do this more often.

Unfortunately, although I’m working on the same lot tomorrow, I’m going to make a long day longer by going to masters swim before work, and I can’t make the ride from the pool to the lot in time.

So, car it is. But the swim makes it totally worth it.

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

Friday Photo

Update: Posted this on Thursday. I lost a day in there somewhere. I really have no idea how that happened.

When warning labels rage out of control:

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I get padding the pointy parts of the helicopter when the film crew is around. We’re clumsy and prone to not looking where we’re going.

I can’t help but imagine that the pilot knows damn well to remove those things before flight. Also, you know how people run to the helicopter and duck to avoid the spinning rotor blades?

They’re nuts. Those things are scary and not very far off the ground. I’m not going anywhere near the damn helicopter until they’ve stopped spinning.

Filed under: hazardous, locations, Photos, Work, , , , , , , ,

It’s that time of year again!

Time for the sort-of annual W-2 (and 1099) competition.

The person with the most W-2 and 1099 forms (or your country’s equivalent) will win this super fabulous bottle of Weight Loss Elixir ™ given to a hapless crew as either a wrap gift or a practical joke. No one’s quite sure which.

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That’s right. Elixir, in Italics – the action typeface. Plus, the pink label makes you burn more calories so drink up, you fat fucks.

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Organic Liaison sounds vaguely dirty. Like the Coast Guard getting nasty on the comms with the Army. No preservatives though. It’s an organic liaison.

Leave the number of forms you got in the comments and the person with the most wins it!

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

Go on, say it.

Did I say I had steady work coming up?

Whoops.

What I meant was I thought I had a gig but the best boy made a change at the last-minute (as in the Friday before I was to start), and didn’t tell me.

These things happen, and I’m sure he had a good reason – there are so many folks who are really, really hurting right now. It’s possible that whoever replaced me is going to lose his/her house or insurance or become destitute save for this gig.

I’ll never know. It stings a bit, of course, but I just have to let it go and hope that it’ll all work out for the best.

It usually does (most of the time).

The first thing I did was get on the phone and start informing people I was available.

My “I need work” texts must have seemed sufficiently desperate as I’ve managed to scrape up one day this week, which is better than nothing,  but still…

Right now would be the appropriate time for the  ‘I told you so’ chorus.

Remind me to spend the rest of my life at financial DEFCON 1 no matter how well work is going.

On the bright side, I’m now officially too broke to drink so my liver gets a nice vacation. Hooray!

Filed under: mishaps, overspending, Work, , , , , ,

A crash and a bang and that’s lunch.

I’m starting a show next week (hooray for work!), so I’ve not really been looking for work – just getting some random projects done around the house (fun fact: the walls in my apartment are not plumb, as I discovered when I tried to anchor a bookcase to the wall. Awesome).

But I’m certainly not going to turn anything down, so when I got a call to work a stunt unit yesterday, of course I agreed.

Stunts are a producer’s nightmare – they take forever and you cannot for any reason rush a stunt performer. Because if you do, and there’s an accident…

I don’t really need to finish that sentence, do I?

So we set up, lit the very small set and then we sat. And sat and sat and sat. Then, we went to lunch, came back and sat some more. The actors sat. The camera people sat. The producer sat and gnashed his teeth.

This particular movie had a very bad experience with a thing called an accelerator rig (cable system to pull a stunt performer through the air rapidly), so they won’t use them any more* – the ‘kick the bad guy right through the ceiling’ scene had to be shot in little bits, which isn’t a bad thing as we got to do some lighting.

The last shot of the day was a fist fight on top of a train scene – which was really a fight in front of a greenscreen with fans blowing for extra realism. Aside from the scuffing of a very expensive costume, it was uneventful.

The main challenge was to light the actors without casting shadows onto the greenscreen. Easy on really big greenscreen set ups (you can get the actors way away from the walls), not so much on small ones – you can’t get your action far enough away from the screen to make it easy (the screen has to be lighted separately from the actors, and there can’t be any cross contamination – the actor light has to stay on the actor, and the greenscreen light has to stay on the screen).

But again, once it was done, we sat. Lucky for me my co-workers were really wonderful folks and we had a very good time.

I have to give the director credit – we did three really huge, complicated stunt scenes in under 12 hours. That’s amazing.

* I wasn’t there, but I’m told a part of the rig failed (mechanics, not human error) and almost bruised a very expensive actor.

Filed under: movies, studio lots, Work, , , , , , , , , ,

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Halfway through a wrap day

Get something out of those jockey boxes, I dare you.

Electricity and water

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  • New blood pressure medication. Lightheaded and having trouble standing for more than a few minutes doc sez tough it out. Oy. 2 days ago
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