Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Beachside barbeque

It’s hot. Really, really hot.

Normally, in Southern California, it’s hot inland and cool near the beach, which makes said beach an ideal spot for summertime day exteriors.

Unfortunately for most of us, inland seems to be the preferred summertime shooting location, so when I  got a call to work  on a low budget shooting at the beach with a bunch of really wonderful guys, I had a brief moment of joy.

Beach in Ventura? Sure. It’ll be nice and cool. It’s always nice and cool up there. Hell, I might not even have to run my car’s air conditioning during the 90 minute drive.

Except that now it’s not cool at the beach. And we weren’t shooting on a beach so much as a dusty highway turnout on a cliff above the ocean with no shade anywhere – no trees, no tall buildings, nothing. Just the sun, the heat, the wind and a haze of fine dust which permeated any fabric and formed a coating on skin, teeth, eyeballs, toes, etc…

The first day we lucked out and it was a relatively brisk 90 degrees F. Craft service only had one small cooler so most of the bottled water was also a relatively brisk 90 degrees. One of our more intrepid makeup artists put a teabag in a water bottle, set said bottle on a rock and brewed tea. The sun beat down all day. Had there been a way to get to the water, I would have jumped in – and I did briefly consider just jumping off the cliff, but with my luck I’d hit the rocks, break every bone in my body and just bake there because no one had cell service to call an ambulance.

Not even my hat helped me.

I have yet to find the perfect hat for hot weather. Ball caps don’t provide enough coverage, and anything with a brim seems to either just hold in heat (if it’s cloth or felt) or let sun through the holes in the straw.  I’ve got tiny little sun damage dots on my forehead from straw hat leakage.

I tried a damp bandana underneath the hat, but I changed my mind and wrapped in around my face as a dust mask in the failed hope of eating marginally less dust.

 

Day two sprouted some EZ ups so there was a bit more shade, and chairs under the shelter became hot property – as soon as one got up for any reason, one’s chair would be occupied.

Also, they only had two bathrooms for 40 people, so the restrooms very quickly became unusable, which meant that people didn’t drink any water to avoid having to brave the toilets, so one PA passed out.

The actor has been 90 minutes (at least) late to work every single day, so we do nothing for the first two  hours we’re there. This particular production team seemingly haven’t caught on to the fake call time trick.

Tonight we’re downtown – and it’s projected to still be 99 degrees in the late afternoon, which is when we’re scheduled to go into work.

Hopefully they won’t run out of water.

Filed under: hazardous, locations, long long drives, movies, Work, , , , , , ,

Tour de Courthouse

A few weeks ago, as I was leaving work, I was pulled over.

I had a burned out headlight, and given how incoherent I was after a 14 hour day, I’m surprised the cop didn’t haul me out and administer a field sobriety test, but he just gave me a fix-it ticket.

As he was finishing up, he told me I could go to any police station in the city to get a sign-off on the repair, and then go to any courthouse in the county to pay the small fine.

Sweet. I currently reside within a ten minute walk of both a police station and a (small) courthouse.

I figured I’d get the headlight fixed, get it inspected, then get it off the books and not even have to burn a gallon of very expensive (for America) gas.

So this morning, I rolled up to the West LA police station, ticket in hand, and asked at the desk to have someone check my car.

I was met with blank stares from the attending officers.

After an uncomfortably long pause, one of the civilian volunteers said “I’ve got this” and handed me a sheet explaining that the LAPD isn’t authorized to inspect vehicles and I’d have to drive to one of the county sheriffs’ inspection stations to get my signature.

Fine.

Except that the nearest inspection station happens to be in Beverly Hills.

I hate driving in Beverly Hills.

Under normal circumstances, the traffic is horrific because it’s apparently déclassé  to time one’s stop lights, but now it’s springtime and the tourist bloom is beginning.

In spring and summer, the normally crowded streets of Beverly Hills become impossibly clogged with tour busses and rental cars.

Which is great – the city and the county greatly appreciate your visit and your tax revenue, but residents tend to snap when traffic speeds drop from ‘slow crawl’ to ‘perambulate’.

This results in tempers accelerating from ‘recreational asshole’ to ‘nuclear war’.

Generally, I prefer to bike or bus it through the area – I can either sail past the problem or be encased in the T.Rex of vehicles and be safe from random punchings or headlocks.

But, if I must drive into the fray, 10 am on a weekday is a good time to do so.

Rush hour’s mostly over, and the lunchers haven’t started stalking parking spaces.

So, off I went – thinking I’d get inspected and paid off and then be back home in time to catch the afternoon talk shows.

I guess I wasn’t surprised when the clerk told me that although I got my inspection in Beverly Hills, because my officer had checked the ‘Chatsworth’ box on the ticket, that’s where I’d have to go to pay the fine.

To those of you not familiar with Los Angeles, Chatsworth is not near anything.

Not a freeway off ramp, not any sort of landmark, not any sort of train or bus stop or life support.

So because I’d tried to save gas by not driving, I then drove to the edge of civilization.

Where I stood in line for what seemed like an eternity behind a woman arguing with anyone who would listen that her failure to appear for her court date wasn’t her fault because she’d lost her phone and had written the judge a letter proving her innocence.

Lucky for me another window opened and I paid my $25 and then fought traffic back home.

I have work tomorrow (non-union, but it pays and it’s with a bunch of guys that I really like), and since I’m going downtown I’m going to take the bus.

I’ve had enough of the car for now.

 

Filed under: life in LA, long long drives, Los Angeles, mishaps, Non-Work, Off-Topic, overspending, travel, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sometimes I don’t want to be right

I was really hoping my prediction about getting all my week’s calls for the same day was going to be wrong.

Nope – four calls for Tuesday and then nothing for the rest of the week.  Not ideal, but not a bad thing, either, as yesterday it started to rain and, predictably, all of Los Angeles went into panic mode and the terrifyingly wet streets.

So I cleaned the apartment, did the laundry, did some work on a side project that’s been keeping me too busy to write posts as often as I’d like, brushed the cat and got my annual physical (my cholesterol is good but my blood pressure has me at death’s door in the next week or two. Damn parents. This is their fault).

Since next Thursday is a holiday, there will only be three work days next week so although I’ll be happy to get some work I’m not holding my breath.

Since I’ve been roped into doing some cooking for Thanksgiving (cornbread, herb rolls, carrot cranberry salad and kale chips), it might not be bad to at the very least have Wednesday off.  The cornbread’s my great-grandmother’s recipe and has to be started Tuesday as the cornmeal needs to ferment (I know, it sounds gross, but it’s really good).

We’ll see. I’ll be happy for any day I get.

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

Traffic

I will never understand traffic patterns in Los Angeles if I live to be 100.
Yesterday, as I was drinking my morning coffee and watching the amazing commercial-free BBC Olympics feed via a proxy server (NBC will never stop sucking, so why fight it?),  the best boy of Doctors in Love texted me wanting to know if I could come in to cover someone who called in sick.

The answer, of course, was yes, but since Doctors in Love shoots almost, but not quite, all the way across the city, I figured I was in for an incredibly annoying two-hour drive.

Not so much.

I threw on some clothes, headed out the door and didn’t get stuck in any traffic at all.

I’m not kidding. 8 am – the height of rush hour in one of the most traffic-clogged cities on planet Earth and there was no traffic. At all.

I travelled from my house to the set in under an hour.

This, or course,  made me nervously scan the sky for horsemen as I drove onto the lot.

Finding none, I parked, grabbed a walkie and proceeded to have a wonderful day working with people who I like a whole lot and don’t get to see nearly often enough.

Then, driving home at 10 pm on a Tuesday, I got stuck in traffic for an hour and a half.

Filed under: life in LA, long long drives, mishaps, studio lots, Work, , , , , , , ,

CicLAvia!!

I love CicLAvia.

I’d love it in any other city, but the fact that car-crazed Los Angeles actually closes streets to traffic so a bunch of bike-riding deadbeats can have fun is nothing short of amazing, and makes me giggle like some sort of a super-villian.

Every time the event is held, it gets bigger and bigger, so clearly I’m not the only one who enjoys it.

This year, it was really crowded, but still fun. Since pictures are supposedly worth a thousand words, please enjoy a novel:

Stationary cyclists

Photo OP

4th st bridge

Pinata District

Double Dutch

Traffic jam

Bike Polo!!!

parking problems

Power Rangers!

Fire hydrant, drinking fountain

Next event is October 14. Awesome.

Filed under: camera, life in LA, Los Angeles, Non-Work, Off-Topic, Photos, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , ,

Wow, things got busy!

There I was, expecting the usual not-so-busy December, and out of nowhere suddenly work is going gangbusters. Not that it’s a bad thing, it’s just… unexpected.

I’m bouncing back and forth between two shows crewed by awesome folks that I love to work with – a one-hour ensemble drama (let’s call it Been Done Before) and Yet Another Cop Show.

The two have been syncing up nicely. This week, I have four days rigging on Been Done Before, and Friday working the set on Yet Another Cop Show.

Since BDB is rigging, the hours are shorter (normally not over 10 hours), except today which was a bit longer because we had to rig at the world’s smallest loft.  Had we a cat handy, there wouldn’t have been room to swing it. Seeing a largish production trying to cram a crew into the space was probably hilarious, but I’ve very glad I didn’t have to work the set.

After helping the shooting crew move to the loft (the day’s second location), we went back to wrap our first location at the old LA Times building.  We were shooting in the currently unused Chandler-era executive offices on the top floor in a room called the Round Table – which features, unsurprisingly, a big round table. You’ve seen it in about a bazillion movies.

I really do believe that being honest (within reason) is the best way to live one’s life, but I have to tell you all – had there been a way for me to sneak the original Paul Horiuchi painting out of the building, I’d have done it. It’s just hanging on the wall in an empty office, making no one happy instead of inspiring joy and general well-being, which is a painting’s job.

Oh, well.

Once we’d gotten the shooting crew moved and wrapped, it was right in the middle of rush hour, so a co-worker and I went and had some Pho at a place around the corner from the Times building. Hot noodle soup is perfect on a cold night.

By the time we finished eating, the traffic had died down enough for me to venture onto the freeway towards home.

Tomorrow, we’re wrapping the world’s smallest loft, which shouldn’t take very long, and then Friday, it’ll be a split on YACS.

Five days this week! Yay!!!

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

Weekend Photos

Of course the collective freakout and mass exodus meant empty streets and quiet (oh, how quiet it was. Like a little slice of heaven).  The few people left in town proceeded to take photos of the empty freeway, just because it’s so very disconcerting to see it like this. Between empty roads and the silence,  it almost felt like living through The Omega Man. Only, you know, without the vampires.

We should do it every weekend!

The 405, empty

The 405, empty

The 405, empty

Filed under: camera, life in LA, Los Angeles, Non-Work, Photos, , , , , , , , , , ,

The four wheels of the apocalypse

Here in Los Angeles, we love our cars. Really, really love them. We do anything we can to avoid using our feet, our legs, or any form of public transit. Should we need to reach some far (or near) destination, we travel via our network of free highways (“freeways” for those of you not familiar with Southern California automotive nomenclature).  They’re clogged with traffic, marred with graffiti, strewn with trash and king-sized potholes, but eventually they get us where we want to go.

It’s a love/hate relationship, and although they make us miserable at times, we just can’t imagine life without them.

Until this coming weekend, when CalTrans will close – that’s close as in completely shut down – a 10 mile section of the 405, one of the busiest stretches of road in the country, if not the world.

To our car-centric culture, this is nothing short of a Biblical-sized catastrophe.

Carmageddon. The Sepulcalypse*.  We collectively flap our hands and hyper-ventilate as we contemplate the idea of not being able to drive.

The newsbots have been raising the alarm about this for weeks, and now the city of LA has resorted to the awesome power of faded television stars to try to calm the masses:

Said masses obstinately refuse to be calm and now hysterical panic is sweeping the city.

Many people are planning, like rats fleeing a sinking ship, to leave town.

“Yeah, we’re just going to drive up the coast Friday, get a hotel for the weekend and just chill out.”

“Wait. You’re driving to a hotel where you’re just going to sit around all weekend? Why not just stay home?”

“Stay home? What if we have to drive somewhere?”

And so it goes.

Unfortunately for me,  I now live west of the 405, and some surface streets in my neighborhood will be closed, making any sort of vehicular egress on my part impossible.

I won’t be able to make the union meeting (on the other side of town, of course) on Saturday or to the three parties downtown, so I plan to do my commuting to the beach on my bicycle.

And take photos of what will be either hilarious chaos or  eerily empty streets.

*The surface street alternative to the 405 is Sepulveda Blvd, which will not be closed, but might as well be, since no one has any illusions about traffic moving at anything faster than a painfully slow crawl.

Filed under: humor, life in LA, Los Angeles, mishaps, Non-Work, , , ,

Shooting the poop

Today’s work involved poop. Not the rhetorical kind, the real (well, movie real, which we all know isn’t the same as real real) kind. The rodent kind.

Hero waves flashlight (not a normal one, a special movie one) around, discovers said poop, proves some plot point. Or something. I kinda zone out whenever I try to read the script.

Aside from the fact that shooting poop – even fake poop – is a ‘gimme’ day for bad shit-related puns (“I didn’t like that take. Let’s call it the flusher”), it was also a short day at 10 hours, so I got stuck in rush hour traffic on the way home from work.

Any other time, this would suck shit (see, I’m still doing it), but the recent February mini-heat wave we’ve had has made the city’s copious amounts of night-blooming jasmine start to flower so the drive home, while slow, smelled fantastic which abated my normal traffic related rage. Note: I hate synthetic jasmine perfumes, but I absolutely love the real thing. Right now, I’ve got all the windows in the house open and it smells so good even the cat’s happy.

If you’re ever in LA in the late spring or early summer, just step outside and breathe through your nose. You’ll smell it. You can’t get away from it. It permeates everything here, which is impressive considering that such a powerful smell comes from something that masquerades as an innocent shrub to which no one ever pays any mind.

I don’t think it’s summer quite yet (we’re due for more rain early next week), but it’s definitely on the way.

Filed under: hazardous, toxic waste, Work, , , , ,

An unexpectedly busy week

Last weekend, I worked on a friend’s vanity project as a favor – they were paying what amounts to pocket change, but beggars can’t be choosers so when they asked of course I said yes. I ended up working Thursday and Friday, too, and couldn’t turn that down either (since that was actual paying work on a ‘real’ show) so  knew I was going to get fucked on the turnaround, but as of late my own death is the only reason I’ll turn down work.   I got home from work about 10 pm Friday, and had to be on the friend’s set around 7 am Saturday morning. So, of course, something went wrong with my car.

The key got stuck in the ignition and since there wasn’t anything I could do about it at 10 pm on a Friday night (other than throwing a temper tantrum and calling the car some really horrible names, of course. A friend once said that what you yell at the car when you’re mad is it’s name – now mine’s named something I can’t repeat in mixed company), I called and arranged for a ride to work Saturday morning.

The weekend job went fine – everyone was really nice and it was fun. Since it was mainly lit by changing the tubes in the building’s existing fluorescent fixtures, we didn’t get worked very hard which is always the best case scenario when one is working for a very low rate.

Monday, I took the car into the mechanic I usually patronize and was told that he can’t fix it as the newer cars have to be programmed at the dealer when certain repairs are made, which made me very, very nervous since the last time I had a car that needed to have work done at the dealer I couldn’t even walk in the door without it costing me a grand.

I borrowed a car to get to work Tuesday and Wednesday and took the car to the dealer on Thursday – thankfully it wasn’t as expensive as I’d feared (but was more than I wanted to shell out for a car I just bought) and now I’ve got the car back complete with new shifter (apparently some whatyamacallit in the shifter was making some thingamabob in the ignition do something. Or not. It’s all Greek to me).

I also got caught in the Obama traffic cluster fuck three times in two days – once coming home from work on Wednesday night and twice yesterday.

Me: “Why is the street blocked?”

Stone-faced Secret Service Guy: “The president’s staying in this hotel, ma’am. We had to close the street.”

Me: “But I voted for the guy! The worst thing I’m going to do is yell something encouraging out the window of the car.”

Stone-faced Secret Service Guy: “The administration thanks you for your continued support. Please turn around.”

Me: “Fuck.”

It’s all fine now, though. The President’s out of town again and I have a working car once again.  Plus, all I have to do this weekend is take my spent batteries to the electronic waste drop off point and go to the gym.

Filed under: Work, , ,

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