Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Half a weekend

Last week, we had a 6 day week, as we had to re-shoot the pilot episode of this show. Don’t ask why, I don’t know.

Although we were expecting the worst, day 6 turned out to be not so bad (only 10.5 hours), as the director came in very prepared and burned through the stuff.

I was home before midnight, which I hadn’t expected.

The advantage of four cameras is that it’s possible to shoot 26 pages in a day; something that’s completely out of reach for single camera shows (a misnomer, since most single camera shows use two cameras).

This show is 99.9 percent wonderful.

I really like the rest of the crew, the hours are easy, it’s close to the house and I’m really happy to be here.

The main problem I’m having is craft service.

Not the person – she’s a very nice lady who is exceptionally good at her job, but she doesn’t put out the healthiest stuff. She’s trying to make an entire crew of overgrown children happy, so she puts out comfort food.

Pasta, meatballs, chicken fingers, sliders, bacon wrapped bacon, weenie tots, onion rings, pastrami, etc..

Which is fine, as most people like that stuff and won’t complain.

Hell, I like that sort of stuff, but if I spend the next 6 weeks eating deep-fried whatsits three times a day my arteries (and my waistline) are going to explode.

Simply not eating for 12 hours isn’t an option, so I need to figure out a way to bring my own snacks without offending her.

It would be easy if we had a dorm fridge in our gold room, but we don’t.

If I bring food I have to put it in her fridge, so it’s not like I can sneak it past her.

Vegan? Gluten free? Nut allergy? Sanctimonious uber-organic locavore? These are all plausible, but I think I’m just going to tell her that I’m a super picky eater with an extremely sensitive stomach and this way is going to be easier for both of us.

Hopefully, she’ll understand and not poison my bagged lunch.

 

Filed under: Work, , , , , ,

Hooray!

The powers that be finally (after almost two weeks) approved my application and activated my membership, so today was my first day getting use the Sony gym.

I lifted some weights, since we weren’t going to have a particularly strenuous day (then, of course, I had to go up into the perms to drop out cable), and I have to say I really enjoy the gym.

They’re missing a few bits of equipment that the other gym has that I like, but it’s super clean, and they were playing 80s hip-hop on the sound system, which was extra awesome.

The gym I go to – the normal gym – is fairly small and I know everyone, so it’s a friendly place.

I wave and smile at people, ask how they’re doing, chit-chat about workouts, progress, the weather, etc..

People at this gym are less smiley and chatty. Maybe it’s because I went during the lunch rush (we had a 2 pm call time so I got there at 12:30) and maybe folks were just trying to get in that workout on lunch, but they didn’t strike me as a particularly friendly bunch.

One lady, after I’d said hello, started and responded with “Oh, were you talking to me?”

Oops. Guess I’d better cool it with the friendly.

I finished my workout and then stretched on the super awesome weird cage thing that I really wish my gym would buy.

Sadly, it looks like most of the really good classes are at times when I’m going to be working, but I do love being able to work out and then walk five minutes to the stage.

I might regret the expenditure when it’s dead and I’m broke, but right now it’s so worth it.

 

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

It doesn’t count if it’s not on

The way our schedule on this show works is that we shoot Thursday and Friday, and Monday – Wednesday we light.

For folks from single camera world, this is bizarre beyond belief.

Block it, light it, shoot it, move on.

But multi cameras don’t work that way.

We hang some of the big lights, they block. We hang some more lights, they rehearse and change the blocking. We hang more lights after moving all the previous ones, and then finally we shoot.

Which is fine – the rig days are shorter as our call time is after they finish rehearsing, but as soon as the actors and important people leave, they turn off the air conditioning on the stage.

In case you hadn’t been informed, it’s currently hotter than the proverbial four-balled tomcat here in Los Angeles.

So when we rig after the rehearsals, we go up into the lighting rig using either lifts or ladders.

Since heat rises, this makes the temperature in our working environment approximately 500 degrees.

Last night when I came home from work I was able to wring out my bra.

Ick.

Say what you will about desert heat, it’s considerably less sweaty than tropical humidity.

We’re all glad that tomorrow is a shoot day, so we’ll have chilled air for the entire day.

Hooray!

 

 

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

My phone explodes!

Normally, May and June are slow months. The television shows are on hiatus, the pilots are done, and any movies left in town are already crewed or haven’t started yet.

Movies – especially the ones that shoot in the desert – like to wait until it’s really super fucking hot to start principal photography.

So, just like January, I curtail my spending as much as possible, and use the time to complete some projects around the house, reorganize the dresser drawers, brush the cat, sell unwanted stuff on eBay, etc..

But this May has been different. Not only have I been working pretty consistently, I’m getting calls for multiple jobs the same day at least once a week.

It’s freaky. Not bad, mind you, but not expected.

Of course, I’m answering ‘yes’ to every call I can.

Sadly, this means I’ve had some very short turnarounds the past few days, as minimum ‘off’ time rules don’t apply when one is moving from one show to another.

Tomorrow, my call is 11 am – an hour drive from my place, which means I’ll work until 11 pm and be home by midnight – at the earliest , and then I have an 8 am call on another show Friday morning.

It’s all wonderful – work while it’s available and rest later.

Filed under: crack of dawn, locations, long long drives, 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, , , , , , , ,

Have yourself a busy pre-Christmas

This has been an odd year. Totally dead, and then a completely frantic fourth quarter. I might have work between Christmas and New Years, which almost never happens.

No, I’m not complaining. Work is work and there’s nothing like an 8 month dry spell to really make one appreciate that paycheck (and the qualifying hours so I can keep my insurance. That’s nice, too).

I’d originally been booked (on a TV show featuring a former movie star who understandably likes the TV hours better) for three rigging days this week (Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday), which then became two (Tuesday, Friday). It happens. Things change.

Then, I got the call at 6 am Monday morning to come in and cover someone on first unit (the shooting crew) who had called in sick.

The only downside was that I’d been out the night before, and thinking I wasn’t working the next day, had a bowl of spicy ramen with extra garlic (and then grated more garlic over it – after all, the cat was the only one who was going to have to smell me) and sake.

The sake wasn’t the problem. It was the garlic. It was coming out of my pores, and whenever I exhaled, a malodorous cloud hung in front of my mouth.

So, I made my apologies about the way I smelled as soon as I got there, and then tried not to breathe on anyone for the rest of the day.

Originally the plan had been for me to work the rig Tuesday, but since there was still a sickness related opening on the crew, I stayed on the production unit and someone else was called in to rig.

Which was fine – the shooting crew are wonderful nice folks that I really enjoy working with, and we were on a stage – which, although overheated (our actress gets cold at any temperature below ‘brimstone’), is still nice.

Out of the sun, actual flush toilets handy, and a set that pretty much lights itself, so my biggest problem was finding power drops for the stinger-related needs of the crew.

My sick co-worker got better, so I was off today.

I rode the bike to the garden, did some digging and some hand-wringing over the raised-bed wood replacement I’m going to have to do very soon, and then headed home.

I’m off tomorrow, so I’m safe to eat garlic tonight.

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

All or nothing

Sunday night, I got a work call, which is really unusual. Most of the time, best boys fill their Monday calls by Friday, unless someone gets sick or there’s some extenuating circumstance.

It took me almost an hour to return the call, as I was in the pool and didn’t bother to check my phone (hey, it was Sunday), but when I got out I texted back that I would love the day if he still had it available.

Lucky for me, he did, so I got booked to work on the rigging crew.

Most of our day was spent sitting around waiting for equipment – it’s still fairly busy out there and since most of the rental houses sent astounding amounts of gear out-of-state, it can be a bit of a scramble to get certain things, even when it’s only moderately busy, as it is now.

Apparently it’s been such a scramble that one-day rigs have been getting turned into two-day rigs just because of equipment delays.  Although this rig should have taken about 10 hours, we were only going to be able to complete the cable runs due to not having… stuff.

So we sat, talked, taped cable, sent what we had up into the perms, went to coffee, taped some more cable and then, right before lunch, the rest of the order showed up.

While we finished our cable runs, I got four texts to work the next day. Four. Right in a row. Since I’d taken the first one, I had to turn the other three down and made the joke that I probably wouldn’t get anymore days this week as they all came in clumped up into one.

After a shortish turnaround (day exteriors in winter – early calls to get as much of the light as possible), I worked a 10 hour day on an insert unit where we only had to light the last few shots, so I was fully awake by the time I actually had to do any work.

Sure enough, I didn’t get any work calls for later in the week, but I wasn’t expecting any.

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

Friday Photo

When working up high, it’s very, very important to stay safe and be certain that nothing falls. Even something seemingly harmless like a roll of tape or a pen can cause problems if it plummets 40 feet.
So, everything is either kept in a container (a box, a milk crate, etc…) or tied off to the rails.

Like this:

20131004-191306.jpg

Normally, one wouldn’t bother to tie off a can of iced tea, but this happened to be in a high traffic area (near the ladder) and clearly someone felt the need to stay safe. And keep their tea out of the cardboard box of water and soda we’d brought up with us.  Anything in the main drink/snack stash is community property and subject to drinking by anyone at any time. But a can, tied off to a railing is clearly private property.

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

Oh, crap! A job!

Yesterday, as I was frantically sending out “Got any work” texts, I got a call from someone I’ve only worked with a few times.

“We need a dimmer board operator, and I got your name from (mutual friend). it’s three weeks of work. Do you want it?”

Do I want it? I’ve never heard such a silly question. Of course I want it.

Downside? It’s a console I haven’t had a lot of practice on, but apparently all the other dimmer board operators are working as they’re willing to be patient with me while I figure it out.

I’ve got a one on one booked at the company that makes the console, I’ve watched all the video tutorials, and I have a friend who knows said console on speed dial. I might not be ready, but I’ll sure as hell be able to fake it.

Sweet.

And it’s on  a stage, so I’ll have some air conditioning, which is awesome as it’s currently hot as ass here in LA.

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

A delicate balancing act

There’s an art to work calls (texts these days, but the same rules apply).

One needs to contact various best boys often enough to maintain contact, but no so often that one becomes a nuisance.

This contact/nuisance threshold varies with each individual best boy. Some folks get annoyed if they’re contacted more than once a month, some folks forget you exist if they’re contacted once a week.

I’ve yet to figure it out beyond just remembering it, mostly.

I try to open with some variant on ‘hows the family’ so if I fuck up I’ll get something along the lines of ‘same as they were Tuesday, why?’ instead of accusations of stalking followed by not getting hired.

The worst thing one can do is appear desperate (unless it’s a close friend, and then beg away). Desperate means that one isn’t getting hired by anyone, and that’s pretty universally seen as a personal failing, even when it’s not.

And we all thought we’d left high school.

Not appearing desperate, though, is sometimes difficult, especially in years like this when it’s been slow for over 6 months and that 400 hour requirement for health insurance is dangling over everyone’s head like some kind of Greek sword.

So, I send out “Hey, hope you’re doing well! I’m available if you need me, but really, how are the kids” texts, hoping that I’ll get the 300 hours that I need before October.

It’s just starting to get busy, so I’m still very optimistic.

In other news, the cat is still alive. She’ll turn 17 in November. Lately, it’s been a battle to get her to eat enough to keep weight. I’ve now resorted to egg-shaped bribery, but I’m not proud, so it’s all good.

Angry kitty

Enjoy the fuzziness while you can, kitty.  Soon, there will be a trip to the groomers followed by, well, more anger.

Like that’s a change.

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

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