Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

So now I have to think.

I hate it when I break down and cry in front of a complete stranger.

Actually, I hate it when I cry in front of anyone, as I’m not one of those women who can cry and look halfway decent. When I start crying, my face turns beet red, I get the hiccups, my nose runs and for some reason my hair frizzes out and makes me look like Rosanna Rosannadanna.

But today, in the office of the career counsellor at the Actor’s Fund, I did just that.

Broke down and cried instead of doing something productive with the nice lady’s time.

What started the waterworks was when I was given the well-meaning offer of help to build a resume and get a job.

I’m sure most of the folks who come through the Actor’s Fund have had it up to here with the film industry and can’t wait to get out.

I’m not one of those. I love my job. I really love it, and I adore the people I work with. I don’t want out.

That I even have to consider not being able to continue making a living at it hurts.

Really, really hurts.

Hence the tears.

After offering me a tissue,  the counsellor said “You know, you don’t have to leave entirely. Maybe you just need to think about what I like to call a parallel career where you still work in the industry but have something else generating income.”

I peered through my fogged up lenses at the soothing blur and, except for the hiccups, stopped crying as I thought about this.

I must confess that this had simply not occurred to me.

“Think about what you’re passionate about and what you want and then, once you’ve figured that out, then you find something that will work for you”.

She then asked me if I’d thought about going back to school.

I had not, but in today’s America, that would require much more financial… ooomph than I currently possess.

“Well,” she replied, “think about it and the next time we meet make a list. Make two lists. One of the things you’re passionate about and the other of the things you want from life and we’ll go from there.”

Wow. She’s good.

So now I just have to make lists.

I’m guessing she won’t allow ‘rich husband with a weak heart’  or ‘professionally slapping sense into people who desperately need it’ as bullet points, though.

Although, when I think about it, that second one would require relocation to Washington DC, and I really don’t want to live there, either.

 

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

The Derp is Deep.

Oh, did I say ‘get a job’?

What I really meant was ‘send around a resume and make a million calls only to be told that film industry work experience doesn’t transfer over to the real world’, which I kind of already knew.

One person did tell me that I’d make a really good insurance salesperson, which I’m not sure if I should interpret as an insult or not.

For some reason I always thought jobs paying only commission were illegal, but there seem to be a whole lot of them listed. Or maybe it’s just Craig’s List.

Or maybe it’s just me.

I won’t take anything that’s going to pay less than unemployment, as the state’s UI is just barely more than my bills, so slinging fast food at the drooling masses isn’t on the card, and speaking of drooling masses, what the hell is up with people wanting a photo of applicants? Is that not also illegal?

Also, if you’re going to list a job for copywriters on the internet, the very least you could do is make sure your follow-up email is correctly spelled.

In other news, the entire town is currently in the grip of a rain related panic. Not only is the predicted hellstorm of skywater going to moisten the city like it’s never been moistened before, but it’s coming from the south so it’s warm.  The good citizens of Los Angeles can’t seem to wrap our collective minds around the concept of warm rain.

“It’s sort of like a shower, right? Except outside tand I have to wear clothes.  And it’s all sticky. Like humidity, but we’re in California so that can’t happen here.”

Save us all.

Filed under: Los Angeles, Non-Work, , , , , , , , ,

Unemployment season

Yesterday’s 14 hour clusterfuck (Churches: Big buildings with no actual space to work) was the last day of work before what I like to call unemployment season.

The TV shows are down, there aren’t really any movies shooting in LA any longer, and since I’m not willing to go to Georgia or Louisiana, I’m out of work until, well, until further notice.

Which is both bad and good.

Good, because it enables me to concentrate on other options (writing, running a half marathon), bad because, well, there’s no work, now is there?

So I’ve decided to take a radical step:

I’m going to try to get a job. And no, not a job a monkey could do. A real, grown-up nine-to-five.

The last time I had a ‘real’ job was 1996 (I think). I’d fallen off a lift gate (in the rain after an 18 hour day) and injured my back so badly that I could hardly stand up and since back then low-budget movies paid under the table I wasn’t eligible for state disability, so I found a job doing marketing for an indie record label, which mostly consisted of sitting in a chair calling up radio stations and begging them to play something – anything – from our catalog.

Of course, we had one good band, and a lot of stuff that no one would touch.

Since I was used to low-budget production, begging and pleading for a lost cause was second nature.

But then my back got better, I got called to do a movie, and I left the office behind for more pointless lifting, which was fine.

I’ve always liked my job and still do, but lately, I’m feeling my age.

After a day of standing on marble floors, my feet and knees hurt so bad I can barely walk today. The last time I had to spend 12 hours pulling heavy cable, it was a week before my back felt right.

So, between the physical pain and the fact that here in LA, there’s more competition for fewer jobs that pay less and less, I’m wondering if I can manage to stomach a ‘straight’ job.

Just for a few months, you know… and for the future. When I really am too beat up to keep doing a job that I really truly enjoy.

Hiatus seems a perfect time to find out if I can do it.

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

Know your limits

Normally, I don’t like to turn down work under any circumstances barring extreme weather, rabid bears, or Michael Bay.

Most of the time not even then.

But sometimes I get offered something that I know damn good and well is going to suck so much that it’s just better to stay on unemployment and carefully count my pennies, which means my fantasy of spending New Years riding through the streets in a limo spraying passersby with champagne is now on hold. Again.

This particular  job on offer was an internet series thing paying not very much (of course), but that wasn’t the problem.

The problem was the hours. The show had a 12 hour guarantee (which means we’d be working 14 hour days at the minimum) for a six-day week.

My problem centered around the six-day week. I’m not going to haul out the “I’m too old for this” cliché, but six-day weeks really hurt me, both physically and mentally.

Hell, I have enough trouble with five-day weeks. By day three, my feet hurt, by day four my shins ache before lunch. After lunch my knees join in and complain.  At the end of day five just walking is excruciating.

Day six? I can’t even get off the truck without the help of painkillers.

Once it’s all over, it takes two days to recover well enough to be able to do it all again the next week.

Six day weeks are beyond painful. That one day off  involves getting up, doing laundry, and then going back to sleep. No chance to clean the house, run any errands, get anything done. Bank? Forget it. Gym? Forget it. Friends? Pffft.

Oh, and since I won’t have any time to shop or cook (and we’ll get off work every night well after all my good take-out places have closed) there will be no food in the house, not even that really old jar of pickles that migrated to the back of the fridge.

I’ll eat that the second week when I wake up after a 19 hour day, ravenous because I didn’t want to eat the dubious looking second ‘meal’ that was set out at 4 am.

Not that I’ve been there a million times before or anything.

It was difficult for me to decline, since the job offer came from a very good friend, but sometimes I have to know my limits.

I’ll probably regret the decision once I’m scrounging for whatever loose change I can find in order to buy groceries, but for now it’s well worth it.

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

Living it up at the Hotel California

The two things one must watch out for when shooting in hotels are sprinkler heads and guests.

During the first part of the day we were shooting in an unused conference room which had low ceilings, so although there were no guests lurking about there was a real risk of setting off the building’s fire sprinklers.

Since our lights burn at very high temperatures and the fact that we usually want to light the actors with the lamps above them (unless it’s a horror movie), usually this means having a 300+ degree lamp 2 inches away from a fire sprinkler with a melt point of 150 or so.

In case you’ve never been in a building that’s had it’s sprinklers set off, the water smells horrible (it’s been sitting in the pipes for years), and once it starts sprinkling it can’t be shut off. The firefighters have to shut off the water main, but even after that happens, the water comes out of the sprinklers until the pipes are completely dry.

Needless to say, no one ever wants to set off the sprinklers, so we do take every possible precaution to avoid it from happening.

We never put lamps directly under the sprinkler heads and we used a thermometer to keep track of the temperature, kept heat shields over the top of the lamps – plus we had the hotel’s engineering guys with us, who also had infrared thermometers and the morning was incident-free.

Back in the day, we used to tape a Styrofoam cup over the sprinkler head itself, but that seems to upset the fire marshall (and doesn’t work as well as you’d imagine unless you fill said cup with dry ice, which also seems to upset the fire marshall), so I haven’t seen anyone do that in a long time. Nowadays we just have to be aware of the location of the sprinkler heads and make sure that we don’t put any of our equipment too close to them.

This can be a bit frustrating for the gaffer as he or she sometimes can’t get the lamps in the exact right spot, but I’ve yet to meet anyone who has had a ‘damn the torpedo’ attitude about fire suppression systems – everyone in this industry has either been on The Show That Set Off The Sprinklers or has heard the stories*

In the afternoon, we moved down for a shot in the hotel’s lobby and had to contend with the second part of the equation – the guests. For some reason the amount of common sense displayed by hotel guests is in direct inverse proportion to the amount of money they shell out for the rooms.

Guests in low and mid-priced hotels will carefully watch their step, ask if we’re shooting and if it’s okay for them to walk through a work area. Guests in expensive hotels? Not so much.

The guests at expensive hotels walk around not paying attention to where they’re going, and then when they run into something they scream at the staff, who have understandably become insanely paranoid about movie crews.

Hotel Employee: “Excuse me. You’ll have to move that light”.

Me: “The one that’s over there in the corner with red flashing “danger” signs around it being guarded by three dobermans and a nest of trained hornets?”

Hotel Employee: “Yes, that one. A guest could walk into it and get hurt”.

Guests in expensive hotels also refuse to move out of the way of anyone carrying anything or vary their planned route for any reason at all – even if said planned route means that they have to clamber over the lower rungs of a ladder which is blocking a door to an outdoor patio instead of diverting four feet to either side and using an unobstructed door.  Really, at that point if you’re that invested in not veering to either side you may as well just walk under the fucking ladder.

Luckily, none of us were injured by errant guests and we only damaged the hotel a little bit.

We got finished early enough for me to go to the gym and swim for an hour, which was nice except the network hysteria about the swim team has led to a bunch of people with no clue about pool etiquette to have decided to try to break a world record after they get off work.

*Just because I know you’re wondering – I have, in fact, been on The Show That Set Off The Sprinklers. Twice.

Filed under: locations, Work, , , , ,

An extra special link just for today.

One of the wonderful commenters left this link:

http://axiumclosed.blogspot.com/

Sweeeeet. I’ll continue posting what I know here, but since I’m just a toolbelty schmuck, the above link might be a better source of information.

Oh, and my unemployment claim has been delayed for six weeks – about a year ago, I made an accounting error that resulted in a $200 overpayment, so today I got the “fuck you, buddy” letter in the mail.

I’m going to appeal it – although there’s the argument that stupidity should hurt (as the only way to alter behavior), I think a six week ‘time penalty’ and a 30% monetary penalty is a bit harsh for an honest mistake. Of course, the appeals process takes about six weeks.

Dear gods… I think I’m going to have to get a job.

You realize, of course, that the whole reason I work in the film industry is because in the ‘real world’ I’m completely unemployable. You know, like a monkey that you can’t get to stop flinging poo no matter how hard you try.

At least this should be interesting.

Filed under: Non-Work, , , , ,

So now I’m out of a job along with everyone else.

Today marked my last day of work until all this strike business blows over.

The show that I was working on is an unfortunate victim of the downsizing that’s been happening all over town – a lot of shows are getting the axe because, well, because it’s an excuse to cut some fat and cancel expensive shows that are not expected to do well for one reason or another, so we were completely wrapping out the stages – which meant having to return all the equipment and tear out the rig that’s up in the perms so as to leave the stage ‘clean’ for whichever show comes in next.

As we dropped the cable out of the perms, the talk turned to what we’re all going to do if this strike outlasts our unemployment checks. I’m at a distinct disadvantage here because I’m single – most of the guys on the crew have wives that work in other industries, so they’ll get by on one check.

After spending my entire adult life in the film industry, I’m not sure exactly what it is that I’m qualified to do in the real world. I’ve been making jokes about supplementing my unemployment check with the occasional spot of pole dancing, but the reality is that even if I could find someone to pay money to see me in a bikini my knees would probably give out and I’d make an ass of myself.

Even more so than usual.

The upside was that I was working at Sunset Gower studios, where it’s way easier to park off the lot and walk in (the parking structure fills up super fast) – which meant I was able to make  a face-to-face apology to the writers for crossing the picket line (something I’m deeply uncomfortable doing, but I have to bank every cent I can right now).

Filed under: Work, , , , , , ,

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