Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Friday Photos, or why I’m afraid to go to sleep tonight

This is the cat, in her normal state of fuzzy resplendence:
Pussy, with hair

Except today, when she looks like this:

Shaved pussy

I still have no air conditioning and it’s been incredibly hot and she’s been incredibly miserable, so off to the groomer (a new one, since it’s too far to drive back to Hollywood with a wailing cat in the back seat) we went.  Now, I’m left with half a cat.

No, seriously. The pile of hair was bigger than the surprisingly small cat.

The new groomer loves said cat. Kept feeding her bits of chicken salad because she was ‘stressed’ (no idea if that applied to the cat, the groomer, or both).

Hopefully this means she’ll be too full to kill me in my sleep (the cat, not the groomer).

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

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, , , , , ,

Weekends can be dangerous

Some locations are only available on the weekends.

Parking garages in business parks, for example. Not shootable on weekdays when workers fill the spaces, but on weekends, they’re a wasteland just begging for some stunt driving, which is what we were shooting on Saturday.

This particular parking garage was in Santa Clarita, which, if you’re not familiar with Southern California geography, is north of the city and approximately three degrees cooler than the surface of the sun. It was so hot up there that I stopped having to pee despite drinking copious amounts of water all day. I’d just go to the bathroom for the opportunity to make a big puff out of toilet paper and desperately dab at whichever body part I could easily reach in a futile attempt to dry off.

We were shooting on the lower levels of the parking garage and were all very grateful for the cover provided by the roof. It was hot inside (and full of exhaust fumes, of course), but not nearly as hot as it was outside with the sun beating down and reflecting off the acres of cement and steel. Near the end of the day there was a shot on the roof of the garage (involving a helicopter and gunfire) but as we didn’t light it (a wide shot during a day exterior means little, if any lighting) our boss was the only one who had to be up there. Poor guy.

Despite the heat and the humidity (storms over the desert, while they’ve given us some lovely puffy clouds in the sky, have made it feel like Miami around here) the day went fairly smoothly – since we were doing driving shots all day the lighting was fairly simple and there’s a huge difference between the ‘artiste’ type of director and stunt directors. Stunt directors just want to get the stuff shot and move on so they can get their day while the drivers are still fairly alert.

Even the fairly simple stunts take a lot of time to set up, rehearse and shoot (and it’s not possible to rush stunt people) so we had a 14 hour day. In one of nature’s cruel jokes, just as we were leaving the temperature dropped and a nice refreshing cool(ish) breeze picked up.

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

The work expands to fit the time allotted.

I usually bitch about working for much less than scale, but this particular job was a favor for a good friend of mine, so I just couldn’t say no. The rate worked out to considerably less than half of what I normally make, but the day had a 10 hour guarantee, which meant we got paid for 10 hours whether we worked that long or not, so the plan was to get there early, ‘hit it hard’ and get the hell out before it got too hot (also, working shorter hours would make us all feel better about the low rate).

We got there just after dawn, and with only a few hundred feet of cable to run and some lamps to rough in*, I figured I’d be out early enough to do laundry and get home in time to watch The Simpsons.
Not so much.

While the facades on backlots do have installed power, this production didn’t want to use it, so we had to run our own cable from the generator, over spider-infested piles of junk and through the maze-like interiors – inside the facades, there’s no such thing as a direct route from point A to point B. Although working inside the facades gave a break from the sun, everything was covered in dust.

I guess this part of the lot doesn’t get used much as there was at least a half-inch of dust everywhere. On the floor, on the window sills, hell, even the cobwebs in these particular facades were thick with the stuff.
When we walked across the floors, big puffs of dust rose and hung in the air before settling on our clothes and into the creases of our skin. By lunchtime, we all looked like those old photos of grime-coated coal miners – even my teeth felt gritty. Of course, running cable through the dust stirred up more huge clouds of it.

As the clock ticked and we crawled in and out of the facades, trams full of tourists passed by our set, leaning out over the side, frantically snapping pictures of us working.

I imagine their conversation went something along the lines of “Gawd, why are they all so dirty? The nice studio must be trying to help out some homeless people.”

Although I wanted to whip out the camera and shoot photos of the tourists shooting photos of me (and pointing. I seem to remember it being rude to point at someone and whisper while you’re looking directly at them), any action that can even remotely considered to be aggressive towards the trams will result in banning from the lot (and any associated work that takes place there. Try explaining that one to a best boy)

The thing about short days is that they’re almost never as short as promised. Somehow the work will find a way to expand – our boss will find more things to do, more little stuff that’s got to be rigged, more stuff that’s got to be changed after he talked to the gaffer, so day ended up running the full 10 hours instead of under 8. This isn’t really a problem – after all, 10 hours still feels, to me, like a fairly short day, but the dust and the sticky and the general uncomfortable made the time just crawl.

Isn’t it funny how the dust looks grey on the ground, but at the end of the day the shower water runs off black?

*Rough in means the lights are set up roughly where the gaffer thinks they might work, but the placement’s not exact.

Filed under: studio lots, Work, , , ,

This time, Kismet works for me.

Usually, when I’m not working it’s a bad thing and I practically glue the phone to the side of my head making calls to scrounge up something – anything.

Sometimes, though, not working isn’t really all that bad.

It’s gotten hot here in Los Angeles – not only is it hot, but the monsoonal rains over the desert – while they’ve given us some beautiful fluffy clouds and a couple of truly spectacular sunsets – have made the humidity shoot up to the point that you can damn near step outside and cut the air with a knife. It’s also not cooling off at night like it usually does, meaning that opening the windows to let in the ‘cool’ night air is completely fucking pointless.

For some reason, when it’s miserably hot I get called to work in the hottest part of the city, doing something that makes me even hotter, such as spending 12 hours up in the perms on an un-air conditioned stage or pulling heavy cable through something that makes me sneeze or break out in an itchy rash. I find myself counting the days until it cools off.

Although I really want to say that the heat’s almost over, I seem to remember it being hot until Thanksgiving last year, and I can’t go that long without working, so at some point I’m just going to have to suck it up and deal with the heat, but even that’s going to have to wait.

The other thing that’s happening this week is that I’ve got a horrible case of the P.M.S.

Not only do I have a Mr. Burns caliber glower going (I frightened a small child today and I didn’t even try), but during the course of the day I’ve lost my temper and shaken my fist while cursing the very existence of the following people, places and things:

WordPress

The Internet

The French

Flip Flops

Gravity

Culver City

Eddie Money

Chevrolet

MySpace

Actually, that last one’s a stretch. Whenever I log on, I shake my fist and curse the very existence of MySpace. You’d think for the money they got when they sold that boat anchor, they’d have hired someone to make the fucking thing work.

Given my current mood, it’s probably better that I’m not at work – I’d just piss my co-workers off.

Tomorrow, since I’m not working, I’m going to either go to the beach (and not go to the beach and ride the bike because I feel like I need some exercise. I mean go to the beach and sit on a towel with a book and not do anything) or use up a shitload of my movie passes and see a bunch of movies.

Either way, it’ll keep me out of the heat.

UPDATE: Laurie over at Crazy Aunt Purl posted a photo of her truly horrifying drivers license photo. The photo’s funny as hell (in a horrifying kind of way), but the comments are even funnier. Although I now have a stitch in my side from laughing, I feel much better.

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

Happy hottest day of the year (so far)!

According to the weather-bots on the TV news, today has been the hottest day yet this summer.

It certainly felt that way to me.

I went to the laundromat first thing in the morning in an attempt to get the laundry done while it was still cool(ish). When I went in, it wasn’t so bad. When I came out two hours later, it was scorching. I’d make some sort of an oven joke here, but I don’t think my oven gets that hot. Even on “broil”.

As I walked out, I must have looked like I was suffering because the guy who was on his way into the laundromat grinned and said “You think this is bad, you should be in Miami”.

No, I think I definitely should not be in Miami. The last time I was in Miami, I damn near turned around and went home the moment I got off the plane.

At some point during the day, although all I really wanted to do was buy a kiddie pool and 100 lbs of ice and spend the afternoon in the backyard, I decided that I was going to swelter through all my errands today and spend tomorrow at the beach where it’s cooler. I’d throw the bike in the back of the truck, cruise over to the beach, ride the bike path until I got hot and then jump in the water. I’d stay there, reveling in the cold water and nice breeze (not at the same time, of course) and not come back into Hollywood until it got good and dark and cool.

Whenever I make plans like that, I get called to go to work. This time, it was four hours between the time I decided to go to the beach and the time I got the call. Had I made plans to go to the beach with someone, I probably would have gotten the call much sooner.

The only problem with working on this particular show tomorrow is that the location’s in Castaic, where it’s roughly the same temperature as the surface of the sun.

The first question out of my mouth was “is it on a stage or outside?”

Normally, I feel really guilty when I turn work down, but if I was going to have to work outside in the heat up there for 14 hours, I wouldn’t have felt bad at all about saying no.

Luckily, it’s only one day on a stage that’s supposedly air-conditioned.

Filed under: life in LA, Work, , , , , , , , , ,

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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